Cheshire Constabulary can only maintain the trust and confidence of the public we serve if we respond expeditiously and professionally to any person seeking to complain or express dissatisfaction about the conduct of our officers and staff or the manner in which we deliver policing services and if we actively promote the highest of standards of professional behaviour and personal and professional integrity.
The Professional Standards Department ensures complainants are provided with an explanation of how and why our officers and staff acted as they did; holds officers and staff to account for their conduct where warranted; and provides equitable and fair outcomes and resolutions following thorough and impartial investigations into all allegations or concerns over the standard of conduct, no matter how minor or serious.
The integrity of police officers and those who work in the policing profession has never been subject of more intense scrutiny. Time after time, studies, reports and reviews remind us that there are no endemic failings in police integrity. The Professional Standards Department is responsible for proactively monitoring the integrity of the constabulary, its officers and staff and for taking robust and proportionate action where standards of professional behaviour are breached.
The Department's work is particularly important to safeguarding the reputation of the force as a result of any real or perceived failure to meet the high expectations of those receiving our service. The Department also has a responsibility for reviewing the validity of operational actions and decisions in those incidents that escalate towards criticality for victims, families, or communities.
Key Services of the Professional Standards Department
- Receive, record, investigate and resolve public complaints under the Police Reform Act 2002, in line with the Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012 and in accordance with the IOPC's statutory guidance on public complaints
- Record and investigate misconduct allegations under Police (Conduct) Regulations 2012 and police staff managing performance procedures
- Single point of contact and force gateway for the IOPC
- Single point of contact for the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner to assist the discharge of its governance and scrutiny obligations
- Police Community Vetting and ensuring the processes and practices continue to meet National Policing Vetting Policy (2012)
- Review of serious crime investigations including public protection and safeguarding reviews
- Information compliance by ensuring that the Constabulary and its staff fulfil their statutory obligations in accordance with the information security, Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000
- Provide training, development and organisational learning to increase understanding of the College of Policing’s Code of Ethics, service integrity and performance
All members of the Constabulary are required to live up to nationally agreed standards of professional behaviour. Any breach of these standards of behaviour may result in disciplinary action.
Many less serious complaints can be resolved quickly by staff without the need for a full enquiry, with the remainder being dealt with by PSD investigators.
Very serious matters will be investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), who have their own non-police investigators and the Constabulary will always co-operate fully with the IOPC in these cases.
At the conclusion of any investigation a decision is taken as to whether any member of staff has done anything wrong and, if so, what action should be taken. This might, in serious cases, involve a formal disciplinary hearing at which the person may be dismissed, receive a final written warning, or a formal reprimand (management advice). In most cases a hearing is not necessary and a warning or advice will be considered a sufficient sanction.
Police officers facing allegations of gross misconduct have their cases considered before a Misconduct Hearing. Where the case is proven the officer may face a range of sanctions ranging from Management Advice to Dismissal.
For all cases referred to a Misconduct Hearing after 1st May 2015, the hearings will be held in public. In some cases, where there is just cause to do so, the person chairing the Hearing may exclude members of the public from all or part of the hearing.
It is imperative the Constabulary uses the information gained from investigations into complaints to improve its service to the public. The Professional Standards Department liaises closely with local police commanders and department heads to provide them with feedback on individual officers and members of staff subject of complaint and trends in order to improve future performance and take any proactive steps to identify any early or ongoing problems.
Professional Standards Department staff attend meetings and seminars, and deliver training courses at all levels throughout the Constabulary to raise awareness of these issues and to ensure the lessons learnt are passed on to the widest possible audience..
The Professional Standards Department can be contacted at the address below:
Professional Standards Department
Cheshire Constabulary Headquarters