HC 1929-iWritten evidence submitted by A Hitchcock QPM, ACPO Lead for Diversity and Human Rights [MC02]

In my capacity as the ACPO Lead for Equality Diversity and Human Rights, I have been passed your letter to Sir Hugh Orde dated 11 th April 2012, and will provide you with an overview and then respond to the specific questions that you raise.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is committed to providing high quality services that respond to the needs of different communities, and to protecting all communities from harm. Policing with the consent and cooperation of communities is vital in achieving a safer society, and it is equally important that communities have confidence that during any interactions with the police service persons will be treated with fairness and respect.

The Service takes any allegations of racist behaviour extremely seriously. It is a statutory requirement that all police forces undertake a thorough investigation of any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person to ascertain whether it is a criminal or civil matter.

The police service through ACPO has set out an Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Strategy (EDHR), which has been developed through extensive consultation to underpin and comply with the Equality Act 2010. The ACPO EDHR Strategy acknowledges that the effect of inequality and discrimination varies depending on individual experience and circumstances. Individual police forces use this Strategy to assist in identifying and setting their own equality objectives in line with the Equality Act 2010.

Local delivery and performance is assessed through the Equality Standard for the Police Service, which is a self improvement tool to monitor the on-going commitment across the police service the to treat everyone with fairness, dignity and respect. Work is currently underway on revisions to both the Strategy and the Standard to ensure that they are at the forefront of current thinking in relation to EDHR, and assists the Service in continuing to drive forward this agenda. It is anticipated that the revised Strategy and Standard will be published in the autumn of this year.

Specifically in Answer to Your Questions

Are there any ACPO national guidelines about police officers’ conduct in relation to racism?

All police forces within England and Wales as a public body are governed by legislation and guidance which each police officer and police staff member, including Police Authorities is required to oversee and comply with.

The Equality Act 2010 combines the previous anti-discrimination laws into one single Act. The Act includes a new public sector equality duty, bringing the three separate duties on public authorities relating to race, disability, and gender together in a single duty and extending it to cover age, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, religion and belief, sexual orientation and marriage/civil partnership. All of these are now referred to as protected characteristics.

The general duty sets out in the Act, that all public bodies and those who carry out public functions must:

Have due regard for the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and any other conduct prohibited under the Act.

Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people who do not share it.

Foster good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not share it.

All police forces will have Home Office Guidance 26/2008 which is endorsed by ACPO as the Standard of Professional Behaviour required by each police officer. This document provides comprehensive guidance and your Committee may find the most useful sections to be those relating to, Authority, Respect and Courtesy, and Equality and Diversity. I have detailed the main standards covered below:

Authority, Respect and Courtesy

1.18 Police officers act with self-control and tolerance, treating members of the public and colleagues with respect and courtesy.

1.19 Police officers do not abuse their powers or authority and respect the rights of all individuals.

1.20 In exercising their duties, police officers never abuse their authority or the powers entrusted to them. Police officers are well placed to protect individuals and groups within society. They have been given important powers and responsibilities due to the complex and difficult situations they deal with. The public have the right to expect that such powers are used professionally, impartially and with integrity, irrespective of an individual’s status.

1.21 Police officers do not harass or bully colleagues or members of the public. Challenging conduct or unsatisfactory performance or attendance in an appropriate manner would not constitute bullying.

1.22 Police officers do not, under any circumstances inflict, instigate or tolerate any act of inhuman or degrading treatment (as enshrined in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights).

1.23 Police officers, recognise that some individuals who come into contact with the police, such as victims, witnesses or suspects, may be vulnerable and therefore may require additional support and assistance.

1.24 Police officers use appropriate language and behaviour in their dealings with their colleagues and the public. They do not use any language or behave in a way that is offensive or is likely to cause offence.

1.25 Like all professionals, police officers have special knowledge and experience that many others do not possess (for example what mayor may not constitute an offence). Police officers do not take unfair advantage of the inequality that arises from a member of the public being ill-equipped to make an informed judgement about a matter in respect of which he or she does not have the special knowledge of the police officer.

Equality and Diversity

1.26 Police officers act with fairness and impartiality. They do not discriminate unlawfully or unfairly.

1.27 Police officers carry out their duties with fairness and impartiality and in accordance with current equality legislation. In protecting others’ human rights, they act in accordance with Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

1.28 Police officers need to retain the confidence of all communities and therefore respect all individuals and their traditions, beliefs and lifestyles provided that such are compatible with the rule of law. In particular police officers do not discriminate unlawfully or unfairly when exercising any of their duties, discretion or authority.

1.29 Police officers pay due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination and promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different groups.

1.30 Police managers have a particular responsibility to support the promotion of equality and by their actions to set a positive example.

1.31 Different treatment of individuals which has an objective justification may not amount to discrimination.

The full guidance can be accessed through this link to the Home Office Website http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/corporate-publications-strategy/home-officecirculars/circulars-2008/026–20081

Are there any ACPO national guidelines on what constitutes racist behaviour?

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report provided the Service with a definition of a racist incident as “... any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person”.

This definition has been embraced across the Police Service and is used within criminal investigations and within internal staff training by Forces. All Forces adhere to the Equality Act 2010 and within this is a clear articulation of the protected characteristics, and these form part of the training, policies and internal standards within the Service.

The Service has a Competency Framework which is used to assess an individual’s performance and the behavioral competencies include respect for diversity. This framework is used for promotion processes. Contained within the Framework are Occupational Standards which describe the behaviours expected of those working within policing. The activities shown below are an extract from those standards:

Effective performance will include the following:

Develop and maintain positive relationships with colleagues, regardless of their culture, religion, ethnicity, sex, marital status, sexual orientation and any disability. Ensure that you are approachable and that your conduct towards colleagues is open and honest. Deal with differences in opinion in ways which avoid offence. Contribute to developing and maintaining equality of opportunity in working practices by complying with legislation and organisational policies. Advise colleagues about equal opportunity policies and procedures.

Ensure that colleagues are treated fairly. Behave in a non-discriminatory way and challenge the discriminatory behaviour of others. Be supportive of colleagues who wish to raise issues about discriminatory practice. In addition the Police Service has a code of Professional Standards which I have described in the previous answer.

What are the appropriate sanctions for misconduct with a racial element?

All police officers who hold the office of constable are held to account under the Equality Act 2010 by their Chief Constable.

The sanctions for any form of misconduct are regulated by the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2008, and range from “Management Action” to dismissal. Following a report of misconduct an assessment is made as to whether the matter constitutes “Misconduct or Gross Misconduct”. The significant difference being that gross misconduct holds a potential for dismissal, whilst the most severe sanction available for misconduct matters is a final written warning.

Whilst every case is dealt with on its merits and individual severity assessments are made in each case, limited guidance is provided by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (lPCC) in this area. A document “Dealing with allegations of discriminatory behaviour” was published in May 2009 and highlights the individuality of cases and a list of gravity factors are provided to assist Police Forces in achieving consistency. These gravity factors include the nature of the discriminatory behaviour (Ie words, or actions), and the likely impact on the wider community.

The link below provides access to the IPCC website where the document “Dealing with allegations of discriminatory behaviour” is referred to: http://statguidance.ipcc.gov.uklPages/annex b.aspx

Where allegations are assessed as Gross Misconduct and subsequently proved on the balance of probabilities at a hearing the presumption is towards dismissal.

Are there any ACPO guidelines that deal more broadly with conduct and ethics of officers?

The ACPO Professional Ethics Group has produced a Statement of Mission and Values. Many Individual Forces have done considerable work on Values, Standards and Culture within their own organisations, and are able to utilise this work.

The Statement of Mission and Values is:

The mission of the police is to make communities safer by upholding the law fairly and firmly; preventing crime and antisocial behaviour; keeping the peace; protecting and reassuring communities; investigating crime and bringing offenders to justice.

We will act with integrity, compassion, courtesy and patience, showing neither fear nor favour in what we do. We will be sensitive to the needs and dignity of victims and demonstrate respect for the human rights of all.

We will use discretion, professional judgement and common sense to guide us and will be accountable for our decisions and actions. We will respond to well-founded criticism with a willingness to learn and change.

We will work with communities and partners, listening to their views, building their trust and confidence, making every effort to understand and meet their needs. We will not be distracted from our mission through fear of being criticised. In identifying and managing risk, we will seek to achieve successful outcomes and to reduce the risk of harm to individuals and communities.

In the face of violence we will be professional, calm and restrained and will apply only that force which is necessary to accomplish our lawful duty.

Our commitment is to deliver a service that we and those we serve can be proud of and which keeps our communities safe.

ACPO have adopted nationally the Nolan Principles as its Code of Ethicsl Statement of Values and these are attached as a separate document.

I hope that this information is helpful to you and the Committee, and if I can provide any further assistance please do not hesitate to make contact with me.

ACPO has adopted the Nolan Principles as its Code of Ethics/Statement of Values.

The Seven Principles of Public Life

Selflessness

Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public Interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.

Integrity

Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.

Objectivity

In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.

Accountability

Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

Openness

Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.

Honesty

Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

Leadership

Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

13 April 2012

Prepared 9th May 2012