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Police officers must declare relationships with fellow officers

PUBLISHED: 16:30 21 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:19 22 March 2019

Auditors said lack of policy for managing personal relationships could lead to conflicts of interest being challenging to resolve  Picture: ARCHANT

Auditors said lack of policy for managing personal relationships could lead to conflicts of interest being challenging to resolve Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Auditors have recommended Suffolk police officers fill out a standard form for disclosing a relationship at work.

The contract is among regulations proposed in a report on progress of an internal audit at the force.

Under the recommendation, officers and staff would be required to disclose a personal relationship by completing a standard form for the professional standards department to review and “identify any conditions to be imposed to manage risk”.

Auditors said lack of policy for managing personal relationships could lead to conflicts of interest being challenging to resolve.

They recommend a register be developed, maintained and updated accordingly with all personal relationships at work, in an effort to prevent imbalanced workplace dynamics and avoid professional conflicts of interest.

In July 2018, the National Police Chiefs’ Council issued draft guidance for informal feedback before publishing a joint document with the College of Policing on ‘appropriate personal relationships and behaviours in the workplace’ last month.

The guidance was designed to apply to all officers, special constables, staff and volunteers, but required no further action if the individuals involved believed there was no conflict of interest.

It said: “The purpose of the guidance is to ensure that staff who are in a relationship recognise when a conflict may be created and that it does not negatively impact on the work of the service or its reputation.

“It is not intended that a register of personal relationships is created or that our approach does not recognise that relationships exist in the service.”

The audit report, based on work carried out by TIAA in Suffolk and Norfolk, recommended both constabularies implement the proposals from July this year.

Although some line managers maintained records of disclosed relationships, the report found a standard recording procedure had yet to be adopted.

It said: “Personal relationships at work can cause significant disruption in the workplace, particularly if the relationship breaks up or particular employees are perceived as receiving favourable (or unfavourable) treatment as a result of such a relationship.”

The report will be considered by the audit committee of the police and crime commissioner and chief constable on Friday.

Several large UK law firms are asking staff to sign contracts requiring them to disclose any workplace romantic relationships, in a bid to protect junior lawyers from harassment and prevent conflicts of interest

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