Independent panel members
On this page you will find more information about independent panel members for police misconduct hearings.
A police misconduct hearing panel is likely to be arranged to hear allegations of serious cases of misconduct by police officers or special constables. The maximum outcome at a hearing would be dismissal from the police service without notice. Cases would include for example, allegations of criminal acts, serious road traffic matters such as drink/driving and other serious breaches of the standards of professional behaviour expected of police officers, such as neglect of duty. Misconduct hearings can also be convened to consider the final stages of action under performance regulations, where police officers can be dismissed for unsatisfactory performance or attendance.
In April 2004, the complaints system for the police changed with the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which has now become the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
As part of that system, it was necessary to compile and maintain a list of independent people who are members of the community to sit on police misconduct panels. This responsibility to provide a panel member for a police misconduct panel lies with Police and Crime Commissioners.
Independent misconduct panel members are people who have no relationship with the police service and are required to assist misconduct panels in determining a fair and evidence based judgment about a particular police officer’s conduct and agreeing an appropriate sanction.
Independent members are only required to sit on misconduct hearings (commonly referred to as misconduct panels) arising from a complaint or conduct matter concerning incidents involving the death or serious injury of any person and those in which a member of the public has been adversely affected by the actions of a police officer.
The aim of the appointment is to provide reassurance to the community that misconduct matters are properly investigated and proceedings properly adjudicated.
For this reason, members must fully understand what high standards of conduct are expected of police officers. The decisions taken by panels can affect the livelihood of police officers and therefore acting – and being seen to act – with fairness and impartiality is paramount. As individuals members are expected to abide by the strictest levels of integrity, honesty and good conduct in public life, and security clearance (vetting) is a pre-requisite to perform the role.
A panel is made up of three individuals;
- the Chair, who is an independent legally qualified professional,
- an independent member of the public (independent panel member), and
- a senior police officer who represents the local police force in conduct matters. As a general principle, appointments to a particular hearing will be conducted on a rota basis, with the next person on the list being appointed to serve on a hearing. This is to ensure that the process is fair.
The role of an independent panel member is to assist misconduct panels in reaching a fair and evidence based judgement about a particular officer’s conduct and deciding on an appropriate sanction. They also ensure that there is an independent and impartial voice on such panels and provide assurance to the community that conduct matters are treated seriously and that misconduct proceedings are being properly investigated and adjudicated.
Some of the key responsibilities include:
- attending and participating effectively in misconduct hearings as required;
- preparing for hearings by considering in advance relevant papers, reports and background information;
- constructively challenging accepted facts and views in these hearings where appropriate;
- attending training offered that is relevant to the role, and taking a proactive approach to considering what additional development would be appropriate;
- maintaining the highest standards of professional conduct and ethics.
Misconduct cases are triggered by the officer receiving notice of misconduct proceedings. Cases are unpredictable in nature, and may last a couple of days, or a number of weeks. The Police and Crime Commissioner holds a list of misconduct panel members who have been selected through an appointment process, and a member is selected for each hearing on a rota basis (depending on availability). On average, each member may be asked to attend a hearing two or three times in a 12 month period. In addition to attending misconduct hearings, there is a requirement to attend training and other relevant events.
Misconduct panel hearings are usually held in Exeter or Winfrith, however there may be opportunity to attend hearings across the South West should we receive a request from another PCCs office, for example if they cannot source an available member locally.
Ideally, an applicant for the role of independent misconduct panel member will have experience of professional regulations, tribunals or other legal processes, and of working with disciplinary procedures.
The qualities required of independent misconduct panel members will include strong analytical abilities in order to properly evaluate the evidence being put to them. In addition, self-confidence is essential to bring the required level of independence to the process, and engage constructively with the legally qualified Chair and the senior police officer on the panel. Other attributes include the ability to take a balanced, open minded and objective approach to the issues and to reach evidence based decisions that are robust and will withstand challenge, and the ability to clearly and cogently articulate views, while being receptive to other people’s opinions. Members will have high standards of conduct and ethics and a commitment to fairness and equality. They must be committed to the process and be willing to set aside sufficient time to prepare for and attend hearings.
When we have a vacancy, we will advertise this on our recruitment pages on our website, as well as through other channels as appropriate, for example the Neighbourhood Alert system (details on joining can be found here), and through relevant networks or publications. You can find out more about our commitment to enable all sections of our communities to get involved in becoming a public appointee, or a volunteer here.
Independent members of misconduct panels must be at least eighteen years of age and reside within Devon, Cornwall or Dorset.
Serving and retired police officers, police staff, special constables and staff of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner are excluded from appointment.
Appointment as an independent misconduct panel member is initially for five years, with a full review of continuing suitability at the end of that time. Subject to that review, a further period of service may be agreed, up to a maximum of ten years, unless there are circumstances during either term whereby the appointment has to be ended.
Yes. Details of the claimable expenses and fees can be found in the Scheme of Allowances within the Governance Framework, here.