Unsatisfactory Performance and Attendance Procedures (UPPs)
The information in this section is based on the Police (Performance) Regulations 2012 and Section 3 of the Home Office Guidance on Police Officer Misconduct, Unsatisfactory Performance and Attendance Management Procedures (see Home Office Circular 21/2015).
Concerns about performance and attendance in the police service should generally be dealt with informally by early intervention and management action. The formal Unsatisfactory Performance Procedure (UPP) should only be used if management action has failed or is considered inappropriate.
Unsatisfactory performance or attendance is defined in Regulation 4(2)(a) of the Police (Performance) Regulations 2012 as “an inability or failure of a police officer to perform the duties of the role or rank he is currently undertaking to a satisfactory standard or level.”
Gross incompetence is defined in Regulation 4(1) of the Police (Performance) Regulations 2012 as “a serious inability or serious failure of a police officer to perform the duties of his rank or the role he is currently undertaking to a satisfactory standard or level, to the extent that dismissal would be justified, except that no account shall be taken of attendance of a police officer when considering whether he has been grossly incompetent.”
It is the responsibility of an officer’s line manager to raise any shortcomings or concerns with the individual at the earliest opportunity. Management action procedures are not covered by the Police (Performance) Regulations 2012. There is, however, detailed information in the Home Office Guidance on Police Officer Misconduct, Unsatisfactory Performance and Attendance Management Procedures.
Where there is no sustained improvement following management action it may be appropriate to use the formal Unsatisfactory Performance Procedure (UPP) and the procedures set out in the Police (Performance) Regulations 2012.
Unsatisfactory Performance Procedure
The Unsatisfactory Performance Procedure (UPP) applies to police officers up to and including the rank of chief superintendent. It does not apply to student officers who are governed by locally determined procedures underpinned by Regulation 13, Police Regulations 2003.
There are potentially three stages to the UPP. A meeting is held at each stage. Progress will be made to the next stage in the event that performance issues are not
resolved by the previous stage.
At each stage the meeting must consider unsatisfactory performance or attendance which is similar to or connected with the unsatisfactory performance or attendance referred to in any written improvement notice. Where failings relate to a different form of unsatisfactory performance or attendance it will be necessary to commence the UPPs at the first stage.
At each stage the relevant manager must notify the officer in writing that he or she is required to attend a meeting. At the time of notification the manager must provide the officer with details of the procedure, an explanation of the reason for the meeting and details of who will be in attendance. The officer must also be informed of the right to seek advice from a Police Federation representative and of the right to be accompanied by a “police friend”. Regulation 5 of the Police (Performance) Regulations 2012 sets out the role that the police friend may undertake in the
proceedings. (For further information on the services of a police friend, contact your JBB).
A notification of a meeting must be accompanied by any papers supporting the view that the officer’s performance or attendance is unsatisfactory. Any papers to be relied on by the officer at the meeting must be submitted to the relevant manager before the meeting.
At any stage, if the officer or his/her police friend is unavailable on the meeting date proposed by the relevant manager, the officer may propose an alternative date and time. This must be accepted provided it is reasonable and within five working days of the original date.
First stage meeting
This meeting will be conducted by the officer’s line manager. At the meeting the officer concerned has the right to make representations in response to the line manager’s assessment of his/her performance. The officer’s police friend will also have the opportunity to address the meeting, as set out in regulation 8(3a). If the finding of the line manager is that the police officer’s performance has been unsatisfactory, an improvement notice will be issued. The improvement notice will set out how the officer is required to improve on his/her performance and the period within which the improvement is required to be made.
Second stage meeting
Where at the end of the time scale specified at the first stage meeting, the police officer’s performance is found not to have improved to an acceptable standard, the officer will be required to attend a second stage meeting. The meeting will be conducted by the second line manager. As in the first stage meeting, the officer concerned has the right to make representations in response to the assessment of his/her performance and the police friend will also have the opportunity to address the meeting. Where the second line manager finds that the officer’s performance or
attendance has not been satisfactory, a final written improvement notice will be issued.
In the case of an improvement notice and a final improvement notice, the period allowed for improvement will normally be three months and should not exceed twelve months. Satisfactory performance must be maintained for a twelve month period to avoid the next stage of the process. These periods may be extended if the appropriate authority deems it appropriate to do so.
In any case in which an improvement notice is given, there should be an action plan which should help the member achieve and maintain the required improvement. This should be agreed by the member and line manager. It should identify the relevant weaknesses, describe the steps the member must take and specify a follow up date and a staged review date or dates.
Third stage meeting
Where at the end of the period specified in the final written improvement notice, an assessment is made that the police officer’s performance has not improved to an acceptable level, the officer will be required to attend a third stage meeting, conducted by a three-person panel. The Chair of the meeting will either be a senior officer or senior HR professional. At least one panel member must be a police officer and one must be an HR professional. None of the panel members should be junior in rank to the police officer concerned. Under regulation 33 the officer concerned has
two opportunities to object to the appointment of a panel member. If an objection is upheld the panel member will be replaced.
Where the panel conducting the stage three meeting deems that the officer’s performance or attendance has continued to be unsatisfactory the possible outcomes are:
- Reduction in rank (performance only)
- Dismissal with a minimum of 28 days’ notice
- Extension of a final improvement notice (this will occur only in exceptional circumstances and the period cannot be extended more than once)
When the appropriate authority:
- considers that the performance of the police officer constitutes gross incompetence;
- accepts a recommendation under the Police Reform Act 2002 relating to the outcome of an investigation of a complaint; or
- has a duty under the 2002 Act to comply with a direction to that effect,
meetings at stage one and two will be omitted and the officer will be required to go straight to a third stage meeting
This stage will still be referred to as stage three. This is only for instances relating to performance matters and is not applicable for attendance issues, which must follow the full three stage process.
An appropriate authority’s consideration of performance as gross incompetence is envisaged to be initiated by a single act. It is not envisaged that it would be in response to a series of acts over a period of time.
Where an officer is required to proceed straight to a stage three meeting, without the inclusion of stage one or two in the procedure, s/he has the right to legal representation. Whilst the officer has the right to seek legal advice at any time in the UPP, this is the only time that the Police (Performance) Regulations 2012 convey the right to legal representation. In all other circumstances under the regulations s/he may only be represented by a police friend.
Where the panel finds that the performance of the officer constitutes gross incompetence the possible outcomes are:
- Reduction in rank with immediate effect
- Dismissal without notice
- Issue of a final improvement notice
The officer concerned may appeal against the outcome of the first and second stage meetings. Regulations 18 and 25 set out the details of how this appeal should be made. An appeal from a first stage meeting will be considered by the second line manager. An appeal from a second stage meeting will be heard by a senior manager.
At stage 2, there is a further ground for appeal in addition to those available of appeal under stage 1. The officer may appeal on the grounds that he or she should not have been required to attend the second stage meeting as it did not concern the unsatisfactory performance referred to in the written improvement notice.
Following a third stage meeting, where this stage had been preceded by stage one and two, an officer has a right to appeal to a Police Appeals Tribunal against the findings and/or the following imposed outcomes:
- Reduction in rank
- Where the case has been dealt with at stage three without having progressed through stage one and two, an officer has a right to appeal to a Police Appeals Tribunal against the findings and / or the following imposed outcomes:
- Reduction in rank
- The issue of a written improvement notice or final written improvement notice
Finding of satisfactory performance or improvement in performance
With the exception of cases that are dealt with only at stage three, the purpose of each stage is to determine whether the officer’s performance is satisfactory or not. Where the performance is deemed to be satisfactory, the regulations set out at each stage the notification that the officer should receive following the meeting.
Produced and issued by Research and Policy Support PFEW HQ - Updated August 2016