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Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner

Title and Reference – PCC/D/005
Subject: Independent Panel Member Appointment and Reappointment and Appointment of Legally Qualified Advisors
Report of: Police and Crime Commissioner
Date: 20/06/2024


1.Executive Summary

Following the successful recruitment of our latest batch of Legally Qualified Chairs in 2023, it was necessary to recruit a new cadre of Independent Panel Members. This coincided with changes to the regulations and guidance around Police Misconduct Hearings. This decision report sets out the recruitment of Independent Panel Members and the changes proposed to ensure the Eastern Region is well prepared for the new regulations. These changes include the extension of our existing Independent Panel Members (IPM) for two years and the appointment of some of our Legally Qualified Chairs (LQC) as Legally Qualified Persons (LQP).


That the PCC appoints, once appropriate reference checks have been completed, the list of people identified in section 3 as Independent Panel Members for a period of five years on the Terms and Conditions attached as Appendix C. Those IPMs with IPM 2 next to their name will be able to sit as either IPM 1s and IPM 2s. Those with IPM 1 next to their name will be able to sit as IPM 1s not IPM 2s.

That the PCC appoints, once appropriate reference checks have been completed, the list of people identified in section 3 as existing Independent Panels Members for a further period of two years on the Terms and Conditions attached as Appendix C. These IPMs, because of their experience, will be able to sit as IPM 1s and IPM 2s.

That the PCC appoints the Legally Qualified Chairs identified in section 3 as Legally Qualified Persons. The appointment period will align to their existing appointment terms, as set out in the paper, as a Legally Qualified Chair on the Terms and Conditions attached as Appendix A. The new contract will cover their appointments as both a Legally Qualified Advisor and Legally Qualified Chair.

That the PCC agrees the revised appointment selection of Misconduct Panels and Police Appeal Tribunal Policy. See appendix B.

3.Background to the Proposal

The Police and Crime Commissioner is required to maintain a list of independent persons to sit on misconduct hearings under the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2020. The six police and crime commissioners in the Region maintain a joint list and have done since 2014. The Ministry of Defence Police are also joining this arrangement.

In 2014 the Eastern Region police and crime commissioners acted together to compile and maintain a list of Independent Panel Members to sit on the misconduct hearings as held across the Region (Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk).

Eighteen Independent Members were selected and appointed to serve across the Region. The term of appointment, commencing on 1 June 2014, was for an initial five-year period, subject to a further period of service, if agreed following review.
During 2018 the Member Misconduct Oversight Panel (MMOP), comprising officers from each of the offices of police and crime commissioners across the Region, considered the arrangements for the recruitment of further Independent Members and/or the current Independent Members.

Out of the 15 IPMs serving and active, 14 wished to be considered for re-appointment. All 14 IPMs who wished to be re-appointed had attended training, had all sat regularly and no issues had been raised about their service by PSDs.

In the light of these factors, the MMOP took the view that all 14 Independent Members should be recommended for appointment and further that there was no pressing need to progress to a recruitment process to secure further Independent Members.

This second term of service concludes on the 31st of May 2024. Following this period all the remaining IPMs will have served for ten years, the recommended maximum number of years that an IPM should serve.

In preparation of this, the MMOP set out a recruitment process to select a new batch of IPMs. The opportunity was promoted via all six areas with efforts being taken to reach a wide and varied selection of potential candidates. The deadline for applications closed on the 28th of January 2024 and 57 people applied.

Shortlisting was undertaken by the Essex MMOP representative, the Bedfordshire MMOP representative and an HR specialist from Essex Police. Thirty-eight people were interviewed by a panel consisting of the Essex MMOP representative, the Norfolk MMOP representative and the HR specialist from Essex Police. All MMOP members were invited to participate. The interviews took place over five days in person and online. Following this process 18 candidates are being put forward for appointment as set out below.

Changes to Regulations

In January 2023, the Government launched its review into the process of police officer dismissals. The following August the Government announced substantial changes to the police misconduct, vetting and performance systems.

The first stage of these changes involved changes to police conduct regulations through the Police (Conduct) (Amendment) Regulations 2024. These were laid in parliament on 16th of April and came into force on the 7th of May 2024.

These Regulations were being developed during the IPM recruitment process and primarily amend the composition of misconduct panels, removing the role of Legally Qualified Chair (LQC) and giving responsibility for chairing non-senior misconduct proceedings to chief officers, or their delegate.

They also introduced a new legal advisor role which will provide misconduct panels with advice on legal and procedural matters. This means that panels for non-senior officers will now consist of a chair and two independent panel members.

Under the draft Home Office guidance, the Independent Members selected in accordance with Regulation 28(4)(b) will, in addition to the first IPM, be required to have qualifications, experience or be able to demonstrate certain competencies which are relevant for the purposes of disciplinary proceedings. It is stated that this could include, but is not limited to, those who:

•can demonstrate a commitment to setting standards through senior leadership roles in other organisations or sectors,
•hold expertise in Human Resources,
•or have experience of professional disciplinary processes.

While this guidance is draft it is not anticipated that it will be substantially more prescriptive as the regulations are quite clear. Several of our recommended IPMs have relevant experience and have been identified below with a IPM 2 put next to their name. Once appointed it is recommended that they sit as IPM 2s. This would mean that they are able to sit as either IPM 1s or IPM 2s as required.

The amended regulations are not retrospective so parallel regulatory systems need to be maintained for up to two years while existing cases work their way through the system. The increase in the number of IPMs on each panel also increases the anticipated demand for IPMs. To mitigate these issues the MMOP recommend that our existing IPMs are offered a further contract of two years. This is allowable under the current regulations, allows resilience within the system and provides sufficient time for the cases under the old regulatory system to conclude. It also avoids the need to train our new IPMs on both the old and the new regulations.

The MMOP, in considering the reappointment of existing IPMs, considered the following issues:

•the wishes of the current IPMs in being re-appointed,
•the number of hearings undertaken by the IPMs,
•feedback from Professional Standards Departments (PSDs) as to the performance of any of the IPMs from the misconduct hearings.

Following this consideration, it is recommended that 11 of the existing 12 IPMs be reappointed for a further two years. These IPMs, once trained in the new regulations, will be able to sit as either IPM 1s or IPM 2s.

Further to the recommended reappointment of the IPMs, the MMOP also considered the appointment of Legally Qualified Chairs as Legally Qualified Persons. Given the recent decision in December 2023 by PCC’s across the region to appoint and reappoint Legally Qualified Chairs, as set out in decision report 186-23, the MMOP approached the current LQCs for indications of interest in sitting as Legally Qualified Persons. Twenty nine have indicated that they would like to be appointed as Legally Qualified Persons under the new Terms and Conditions set out in Appendix A.

4.Proposal and Associated Benefits

The proposed appointment and reappointments set out in the recommended decisions will provide the PCC with reassurance that there are sufficient Legally Qualified Persons and Independent Panel Members to deliver an effective Police Misconduct Hearing process.

This is important to ensure that cases of police misconduct are heard appropriately and in a timely manner, that officers who should not be in the force are removed and those who are on restricted duties awaiting a hearing are heard quickly and where appropriate are able to return to their duties.

The recommendations around adoption of the new selection policy will ensure the PCC is fulfilling their duty to publicly demonstrate how IPMs and LQPs are selected.

5. Options Analysis

The PCC has the option not to accept these recommendations, however, given that they have a statutory responsibility to recruit and provide both Legally Qualified Persons and Independent Panel Members for Police Misconduct Hearing this option is not recommended.
The PCC could decide to exit the regional arrangements and recruit and appoint LQPs and IPMs independently however this would be more costly and provide less resilience. Given the system has worked well for ten years this approach is not recommended.

5. Consultation and Engagement

Throughout the process the MMOP has stayed in close contact with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioner’s Chief Executive’s Association complaints network, they have sought input from LQCs and in the recruitment of IPMs have also liaised with the Magistrates’ Association.
The MMOP through their respective members have also liaised with each PSD in the area.

7. Strategic Links

The handling of police complaints has a direct impact on confidence in policing which is fundamental to the police and crime plan. Supporting an effective and efficient complaints system is also important to ensure the force is properly resourced and staffed.

8. Police operational implications

The decisions in this report will support an effective police misconduct complaint system which in turn will support operational policing.

9. Financial implications

The revised Police (Conduct) (Amendment) Regulations 2024 have changed the members of a police misconduct hearing panel so each hearing will have two IPMs and an LQP. This means the cost for each hearing will increase. The nationally recommended level of renumeration for IPMs is also going up after no change for ten years. This is reflected in the new Terms and Conditions for IPMs with their daily rate increasing from £211 to £357. These fees are paid from the Bedfordshire Police budget and the changes to them have been flagged with the relevant budget holder and Bedfordshire Police Finance.

10. Legal implications

The revised Police (Conduct) (Amendment) Regulations 2024 have been laid in parliament and came into force on the 7th of May. As such the PCC has a legal obligation to comply with them. As set out above the recommendations set out above align to the new regulatory system and ensure the PCC complies with them.

11. Staffing implications

There are no direct staff implications from this decision.

12. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion implications

As with the recruitment of Legally Qualified Chairs in 2023, significant effort was put into raising awareness of the IPM posts to a wide range of communities. Each area shared it through their local networks, partners and wider stakeholder groups. Local diversity groups were also used to spread this to communities that aren’t always as well represented as they should be. Areas also used newsletters and social media to encourage recruitment.

13. Risks and Mitigations

There is the risk that the reference checks for some of the new IPMs will not be adequate and appointment will not be able to proceed. To mitigate this risk the recommended decision specifically states that the appointment is only to be made after these have been completed adequately.
As with any new regulatory system there is the chance that unknown problems will arise through the process. The MMOP has taken a proactive approach to recruitment to minimise the potential impact of any unforeseen changes and ensure there are sufficiently qualified and trained people to manage any additional workload or issues.

Some areas have adopted a wait and see approach to the regulatory changes which means they are only just starting their recruitment now. To avoid this risk we continued with our existing recruitment process and adapted this process to deliver an effective system that works within the old and new regulatory system.

14. Governance Boards

This topic has been discussed at regular points at the PCC’s Senior Management Team over the last twelve months. The regulatory changes were presented on the 7th of May and proposed changed by the government were discussed throughout 2023 with the PCC providing feedback where possible into that development process.

15. Links to Future Plans

This is not linked to any specific future plans but will inform the development of the Police and Crime Plan 2024-2028, and the PSD quarterly scrutiny process.

To note decision
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner
I hereby approve the recommendations above.

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