National guidance on reporting concerns published

New guidance sets out clear processes to protect those raising concerns

​For the first time, national guidance has been published to help officers and staff report concerns about colleagues.

The guidance, developed by the College of Policing in consultation with the independent whistleblowing charity Public Concern at Work, sets out the routes officers and staff can take to raise issues and what they should expect from the process.

It also provides a clear guide to good practice for forces when it comes to supporting those who have reported concerns.

The policing Code of Ethics, published in 2014, makes it clear that all those who work within the service are expected to report concerns they may have about wrongdoing or poor practice. Police regulations also require officers to challenge or report improper behaviour.

However, until now all forces have had individual policies on how this should be done. The aim of the new national guidance is to provide a consistent approach across England and Wales.

It sets out that:

  • If a person raises a genuine concern, there should be no risk of reprisal or consequence if they are mistaken
  • Forces need to put robust processes in place to ensure harassment or victimisation of those reporting concerns is not tolerated
  • Reports should be kept confidential and if a person reporting a concern wishes to remain anonymous, they should be able to do so
  • The person reporting concerns must be consulted and kept updated throughout the investigation

College of Policing standards manager, Detective Superintendent Ray Marley, said: "Most officers and staff have the highest standards of integrity, which is what the public deserves. To maintain this, our Code of Ethics made it clear everyone in policing is required to report concerns about wrongdoing or poor practice at any rank or role. While there is much evidence this happens already, there are times when it may be difficult to do so.

"Consequently, it is essential that forces have simple and clear processes in place to allow them to do this. This new guidance sets out how this should be done to ensure a consistent approach to reporting concerns across the service.

"The guidance focuses on staff welfare as we recognise that reporting concerns about a colleague can take an enormous amount of courage and be very stressful. Anybody doing so should be confident in the fact that raising a genuine concern, even if they are mistaken, will not result in any sort of reprisal.

"Forces have a responsibility to put in place measures to support people who report concerns, both during the investigation and afterwards. We will not tolerate any form of harassment or victimisation of those reporting concerns."

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