Police officers have the right to be accompanied and consult with a police friend at any interview during an investigation into misconduct and at all stages of the misconduct or performance proceedings. The police friend is there to support the officer when they are facing allegations of misconduct or poor performance. This role is integral to the proceedings and an important means of ensuring not only that the officer is supported during the process but also that correct procedures are followed.
A police friend can accompany a police officer at any investigatory interview at any of the stages of both the misconduct and performance proceedings. They can advise the police officer throughout the proceedings and can advise on how to gain legal representation and completion of relevant paperwork. They can make representations to the appropriate authority concerning any aspect of the proceedings under the Conduct Regulations, Complaints Regulations and Performance Regulations. Where both a lawyer and a police friend are present during misconduct or performance proceedings, the officer should be represented at those proceedings by their lawyer.
The officer concerned may choose a police officer, a police staff member or (where the police officer is a member of a police force) a person nominated by the police officer’s staff association to act as their police friend. A person approached to be a police friend is entitled to decline to act as such. A former police officer may also choose a police officer, a police staff member or a person nominated by the former officer’s staff association. Where the former officer is not a former member of a staff association, they may choose someone outside the police force to act as a police friend but this person must be approved by the chief officer of the police force where the former officer last served prior to leaving policing.
A police friend cannot be appointed to act as such if they have had some involvement in that particular case. For example, if they are a witness within the investigation. A police friend should not be asked to provide an account of the matters under investigation or subject to proceedings, for example being cross-examined or called as a witness in relation to their role as police friend or the advice provided to the person they are representing.
The police friend can:
a) advise the officer concerned throughout the proceedings under the Conduct Regulations, Complaints Regulations, and the Performance Regulations,
b) unless the officer concerned has the right to be legally represented and chooses to be so represented, represent the officer concerned at the misconduct proceedings, performance proceedings, appeal meeting, an accelerated misconduct hearing or at a Police Appeals Tribunal,
c) make representations to the appropriate authority concerning any aspect of the proceedings under the Conduct Regulations, Complaints Regulations or Performance Regulations and
d) accompany the officer concerned to any interview under the Complaints or Conduct Regulations, or meeting or hearing which forms part of any proceedings under the Conduct Regulations (apart from Part 6) or Performance Regulations.
A police friend who has agreed to accompany a police officer is entitled to take a reasonable amount of duty time to fulfil their responsibilities as a police friend and should be considered to be on duty when attending interviews, meetings or hearings.