What is a Duty Statement

A duty statement is effectively a holding position, which may be deployed in the following situations; • You are being investigated for criminal or misconduct matters • You expect to be investigated for criminal or misconduct matters Because you cannot be lawfully ordered to provide a statement about matters for which you are being investigated or may be investigated (common sense applies) for criminal or misconduct matters. There is a balance to be struck between your duties as the holder of the office of Constable & your inalienable legal right against self-incrimination. If in doubt reserve your position with a duty statement until you have sought advice from a federation friend or lawyer. If placed in the invidious position of being ordered to provide a statement before receiving advice, you may decide to limit your statement to the time you were on & off duty, together with the fact that you were involved in an incident for which you are now seeking advice. Consider the following; You are involved in a volatile or highly stressful incident such as a high speed collision/use of force. There is footage (e.g. CCTV/Dashcam/BWV), voice recording(s) (e.g. BWV/radio comms/mobile phone etc) or technical data (e.g. in car data recorder) available, but not immediately. The investigator wants a detailed statement before you retire from duty. You provide that detailed statement, committing to paper what you honestly believe to be true based upon your best recollections. It later becomes clear that data you knew existed, contradicts your statement. An assessment must be made by someone who was not there, did you; Do your best but get it wrong? Or Did red mist set in & you wrote a statement which sought to minimise your culpability, hoping you wouldn’t be caught out? It is increasingly common for officers to be investigated & later sent for misconduct proceedings or worse prosecuted, based upon the latter assessment. With that investigation must come decisions around restrictions or suspension & those investigations can last months or years. What then should you do? We know our brain does not store information in a neat chronological fashion, particularly in high stress situations. In short, our advice is that you should write your detailed account & pause, view footage- disclosing the fact-& if material differences are revealed, comment upon them & account for them-if you can-before signing your now completed statement & handing it to the investigator. In that way your account is captured intact & untainted, in addition your integrity should not be in doubt if there are differences. This best practice approach is backed by legal advice & the APP for armed policing, read the link on the Death or Serious Injury & Post Incident Procedure Page at Providing accounts stage 4.

I am being served a regulation notice, do I need anyone present?

There is no obligation to respond or say anything at the service of notice, the federation would not normally attend, you may decide to ask a federation representative or supervisor to be present where the IOPC (formerly IPCC) are serving the notice. We recommend however, that you do make early contact with a suitably trained federation representative.

My notice states I have 10 days to respond or inferences may be drawn, what should I do?

Any reference to days within the conduct regulations refer to working days. Your notice serves to warn you that should you fail to point out a line of inquiry that might otherwise be lost & which you would seek to rely on in your defence a proper inference could be drawn about why you failed to identify that line of inquiry to the investigator. An obvious example might be CCTV, but as many complaints are made months down the line the instances of an inference actually being drawn at a misconduct hearing are vanishingly small. Where you may wish to respond to the notice is something to discuss promptly with your federation representative.

I have been notified this is a proportionate investigation & asked to respond in writing, why?

Whilst the severity assessment of the allegation must be impartial-if proven as alleged, the investigating officer may on occasion avail themselves of a wealth of evidence that is strongly suggestive the complaint is unfounded & are allowed to carry out lines of inquiry which are proportionate. If the investigator decides that it is proportionate to seek to avoid a recorded interview by way of written questions & answers it will inevitably be in the interests of you (& all concerned) to save time & so public money by providing a written response. A federation representative can assist in proof reading the report to seek to ensure the answers are sufficiently clear on first submission.

What can I expect from my federation representative?

You can expect that your rep will honour their duty of confidentiality around the misconduct matter you are under investigation for, each trained rep is asked to sign an undertaking. Your rep holds the office of constable & so has a duty to prevent crime & save life. If you are being investigated for criminal offences you may decide that you want to discuss the investigation with your legal advisor only, who can assert legal privilege. The decision as to whether you involve your rep in those discussions ultimately sits with you. You may be guided by whether your investigation is criminal & (gross) misconduct, or criminal only, if in doubt ask your legal advisor to guide you. Your rep will assist by guiding & advising you through the misconduct process, will assist where necessary in instructing a suitably trained legal advisor who will be mindful of your double jeopardy of criminal & police misconduct. Your rep can also assist with negotiation, formal representations & appeals during & at the conclusion of the process.

I have been provided with a welfare officer, how does their role differ from a federation representative?

The role has similarities & importantly, significantly differences. A welfare officer is usually appointed where an officer is restricted or suspended & works at the behest of the force to deal with welfare & risk, communication to & from the force & workplace issues as they arise. Welfare officers carry out an invaluable role & have a proper interest in how you are coping with the ongoing investigation but have no duty of confidentiality& no part to play in guiding you through the investigation. A federation representative in common parlance is more properly called a police friend & defined as such within police regulations. You are entitled to advice, guidance & representation from a police friend at all stages of being investigated for a complaint, conduct or performance issue. Where you are being assisted for a complaint or conduct matter, your federation representative has a duty of confidentiality to you around the matter you are being investigated for. Conversely, your federation representative is first and foremost the holder of the office of constable & has no duty of confidentiality for; • Misconduct which you are not being investigated for, i.e. for which you are not in possession of a regulation notice. • Criminal matters-if you are under criminal investigation, give careful thought over whether or not you wish your federation representative to be present during consultation with your solicitor. • Risk of harm-your federation representative must take action if they identify a risk of harm to you or another.

I have been asked to provide evidence about my colleague(s), what should I do?

You hold the office of constable & must adhere to a standard of professional behaviour where you challenge, report or take action as appropriate where the action(s) or inaction(s) cause concern. Where you are concerned refer to the section on Duty Statements and consider taking advice from your Federation Representative.

I have been restricted in the workplace, I don’t understand why?

Any decision to restrict is based upon a case specific risk to the investigation and so to the reputation of the police. Standard restrictions are to remove someone from public facing duties, the evidential chain & remove avoidable contact with colleagues whilst evidence gathering takes place. Whilst they are subject to review & modification you should treat them as a lawful order.

I have been suspended from the workplace, I don’t understand why?

A decision to suspend is based upon a case specific risk to the investigation and so to the reputation of the police, where the decision maker is not satisfied that placing you on restrictions sufficiently mitigates the risk. In the rare event you are suspended you must hand in your warrant card & cease to hold the office of constable until such time as any suspension is lifted. While suspended you retain your pay & remain subject to the Standards of Professional Behaviour. In addition you must (via your welfare officer if suspended) apply for leave in the normal manner Any suspension should be treated as a lawful order.

I have been placed on an action plan, do I have to accept it?

Your action plan should be SMART compliant, if in doubt you should take advice from a police friend. HOG 3.18. Every police officer should have some form of performance appraisal, or what is commonly referred to in most cases as a PDR. This should be the principal method by which the police officer’s performance and attendance is monitored and assessed. It is the responsibility of the line manager to set objectives for his or her staff and it is the responsibility of all police officers, with appropriate support from management, to ensure that they both understand and meet those objectives. Objectives set by the line manager should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-related (SMART). HOG 3.34(i). Challenging unsatisfactory performance or attendance in an appropriate manner does not constitute bullying. In considering whether action constitutes bullying, forces should have regard to their local policy on bullying.

I know someone whose performance is worse than mine & they do not have an action plan, is this fair?

It is the responsibility of each line manager to manage performance. It does not necessarily assist you if you hold the opinion that a line manager elsewhere is failing in their duty, far better to focus on any relevant learning.

I am a student officer in my probationary period, how does the Unsatisfactory Performance & Attendance Procedures UPP apply to me?

Beyond performance reviews & action plans UPP does not apply. Procedures are decided by forces locally but are underpinned by regulation 13 of the Police Regulations 2003. Discharge of probationer 13.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this regulation, during his period of probation in the force the services of a constable may be dispensed with at any time if the chief officer considers that he is not fitted, physically or mentally, to perform the duties of his office, or that he is not likely to become an efficient or well conducted constable. (2) A constable whose services are dispensed with under this regulation shall be entitled to receive a month’s notice or a month’s pay in lieu thereof. (3) A constable’s services shall not be dispensed with in accordance with this regulation and any notice given for the purposes thereof shall cease to have effect if he gives written notice to the police authority of his intention to retire and retires in pursuance of the said notice on or before the date on which his services would otherwise be dispensed with; and such a notice taking effect on that date shall be accepted by the police authority notwithstanding that less than a month’s notice is given. (4) Where a constable has received a notice under this regulation that his services are to be dispensed with and he gives written notice of his intention to retire and retires under paragraph (3), he shall nevertheless be entitled to receive pay up to and until the date on which the month’s notice he has received would have expired or where he has received or is due to receive a month’s pay in lieu of notice he shall remain entitled to that pay notwithstanding the notice he has given under paragraph (3).

I am a supervisor and I am being instructed to formally performance manage an officer for poor attendance, I don’t agree, is it a lawful order?

It is the line manager’s responsibility to manage performance, to do so fairly, proportionately & promptly, taking into account health, welfare & disability. You may be aware of information about that officer, which someone else is not. The specific guidance for attendance management is at Home Office Guidance, Chapter 4. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/664940/Final_Home_Office_Guidance.pdf HOG 3.34(h). Lline managers are expected to gather relevant evidence and keep a contemporaneous note of interactions with the police officer; Ultimately, failing to manage performance may in itself be a performance issue for the line manager.

Who’s responsibility is it to manage performance?

Managing performance begins & ends with the line manager. Whilst after stage 1 of UPP decisions will be made by others, it will remain the responsibility of the line manager to assess throughout all formal processes up to dismissal. The line manager must of course do so fairly, proportionately & promptly.

I have had a clash of personality with a supervisor & I am being moved, why?

Where the dispute sits between an officer & their supervisor & a decision is made to move someone, it is the junior officer who should be moved. Where there is evidence of a broader dispute(s) involving others the following guidance may not apply; HOG 3.34(e). In cases where the difficulty appears to stem from a personality clash with a colleague or line manager, or where for other reasons a change of duties might be appropriate, the police officer’s line management may, in consultation with the appropriate HR adviser, consider redeployment if this provides an opportunity for the police officer to improve his or her performance or attendance. Where a police officer is re-deployed in this way, the police officer and his or her new line management should be informed of the reasons for the move and of the assessment of his or her performance or attendance in the previous role; HOG 3.34(i). Challenging unsatisfactory performance or attendance in an appropriate manner does not constitute bullying. In considering whether action constitutes bullying, forces should have regard to their local policy on bullying.


The SYPF Team

There are curently 25 members of South Yorkshire Police Federation Joint Branch Board, 22 of whom are workplace representatives who combine their duties as police officers with their voluntary additional work for the Police Federation. Three Joint Branch Board members, the General Secretary, Chairman and Discipline Liaison Officer work as full time representatives at the Federation Office. 

In addition we employ two members of secretarial support staff at the Federation Office, who not only look after administration matters but also give telephone advice on a range of issues from Member Service Schemes to Police Regulations. 

meet our team