Misconduct hearings during lockdown – a solution?

Tue, 14 Apr 2020

With the country on lockdown there will be officers up and down the country currently awaiting hearings, those hearings now suspended indefinitely due to social distancing rules.

How could these hearings continue? The Crown courts have been swift to adapt and have utilised different platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business. These allow video conferencing involving multiple parties.

This same technology could and should be adapted for misconduct hearings.

The officer subject to the hearing would have a separate conference facility with their representative, likewise the AA would have their own with their counsel, or presenting officer.

When the hearing convenes it could all be done remotely, witnesses would be in one building, all members of the panel would simply be on a video conference call. With all parties visible on screen the evidence could be presented in the same way.

The software allows for parties to be muted, thus when not making submissions, or asking questions microphones can be turned off, to prevent unnecessary interference.

All evidence should be scanned into a digital PDF bundle, to allow everyone to access and follow.

Once all evidence has been heard and submissions made the panel could have their own separate conference to decide outcome and draft the findings.

Video conferences can be recorded, journalists could be allowed to dial in for those hearings deemed to be public, thus ensuring that not only is justice done, but it is seen to be done.

In 2020 there is no need for parties to travel miles across country to meet up when video conferencing could provide the same facilities. This way officers would not be left in limbo, awaiting their fate, and the backlog would not continue to build.

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