3. Process Overview – Categorisation Levels & CPD

3.1. Flowchart Overview

An overview of the Abacus process is represented in the flowchart below. A larger version is available at Appendix A.

Abacus - Flowchart

An overview of timeframes and authorisation levels for level 2 and level 3 matters is in the matrix below.  A larger version is available at Appendix B.

Abacus - Timeframes and Authorisation Levels overview

3.2. Types of Matters Reported under Abacus

There are three main types of matters registered in Abacus, as shown in below (Types & Examples):

  • Complaints
    • All external complaints (alleged offences, serious offences, crimes and Code of Conduct breaches)
    • Adverse comments / reports from other agencies
    • Family violence matters involving police (reported externally or involving a complaint)
  • Internally Raised Matters
    • Academic misconduct (identified internally)
    • Alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct
    • Alleged offences (e.g. road safety offences)
    • Equity and Diversity Matters (not amounting to a complaint)
    • Family violence matters involving police and including an offence, serious offence or crime (identified internally and not involving a complaint)
  • Compliance Review
    • Commissioner’s Directions for Alcohol and Drug Testing
    • Death and life-threatening injury in custody
    • Firearm discharges
    • Police vehicle crashes
    • Pursuits
    • Use of force

The registration process for all types follows the process at Receiving and Registering Complaints.

3.2.1. Determining the Appropriate Abacus Category

Members registering a matter on BlueTeam™ will need to determine the appropriate category. Once categorised the system only facilitates changes to categorisation within IAPro™ (which can only be done by Professional Standards), therefore if supervisors and managers validating the matter believe it should have a different category they should note this on BlueTeam™ as it is routed to Professional Standards. Managers have a greater responsibility in giving fuller consideration to the categorisation (refer Managers’ Responsibilities).  Where any doubt exists Professional Standards can assist.

The available categories are listed at 3.3.

3.2.2. Recategorisation

At any stage of the Abacus process (up to the point of members being informed of the Provisional Finding) matters may be recategorised on the basis of new evidence or information received.  Reasons for recategorisation must be recorded on BlueTeam.  If a matter has already been referred to a district for inquiry or investigation, recategorisation should occur in consultation with Professional Standards.

3.3. IAPro and BlueTeam Report Names and Levels

Abacus - IAPro and BlueTeam Report Names and Levels

3.3.1. Levels 1, 2 and 3

3.3.1.1. Level 1 matters

This category is for minor matters which are dealt with by managerial resolution.

If a matter involves an allegation that an offence, serious offence or crime has been committed it must not be categorised as a level 1 matter.

Supervisors and managers are empowered to resolve level 1 matters immediately.  External complaints of this category may be made via telephone and other informal means – a written complaint should not be taken.  For a matter that constitutes a level 1 but involves repetition of a type of behaviour that has previously been reported, consideration must be given to categorising it as a level 2 because more scrutiny is required.  Where supervisors do not have knowledge of the member’s conduct history they are to seek advice from their manager or Professional Standards.  It is expected that managers would check EIPro holdings to provide advice or seek advice from Professional Standards.

A written complaint is required for a complaint 2 or complaint 3, no written complaint is required for complaint 1 – just a BlueTeam entry with the complaint described on the summary tab.

As level 1 matters are dealt with by managerial resolution, if they are based on a complaint they are ‘dismissed without an investigation’ under section 46(1)(b) of the Police Service Act 2003.  This does not mean that they are dismissed entirely without any further action – rather, they are not dealt with as a potential breach of the Code of Conduct and there is no inquiry / investigation.  The resolution process must involve the subject officer being informed of the allegation, however subject officers, complainants and witnesses are not required to submit written reports.  Level 1 matters may be resolved by informal resolution with all the parties and, if appropriate, apology or formal resolution. Continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities should be considered.  Procedural fairness applies to level 1 matters as with other matters.

Examples of level 1 (the specific circumstances of any example may mean it fits into another category)

Complaint

  • “Constable X was patronising, made jokes and did not take my complaint seriously.”
  • “Sergeant T told my teenage son to ‘f**k off’.”
  • “The cops drove too fast around corners while I was in the back of the divvy van.”

Internally raised matter

  • failure to submit prosecution file before statute expiry (first occurrence)
  • insubordination
  • repeated lateness
  • excessive sick leave unsupported by medical certificate
  • reckless damage to departmental property

Where it is obvious the matter is level 1 and the member receiving the complaint is a sergeant (or above), they may resolve it immediately, noting the resolution steps on the BlueTeam™ entry. Where possible the direct supervisor or manager of the subject officer should deal with the matter unless an insurmountable conflict of interest exists.  A maximum timeframe of 14 calendar days is applied to the resolution of level 1 matters.  A timeframe extension is possible but should only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

Professional Standards would only have carriage of a level 1 if they are able to immediately resolve a matter in response to direct contact from a complainant (e.g. complainant rings the Professional Standards office), or if it is intrinsically linked to a matter they are dealing with.

3.3.1.2. Level 2 matters

These matters are dealt with as a potential breach of the Code of Conduct.  They are more serious than level 1 or involve a repetition of a level 1 matter and an appropriate level of inquiry is required.

Any matter that involves an allegation of an offence (e.g. traffic etc.) is to be dealt with as a level 2 matter. Serious offences or crimes are dealt with as a level 3 matter.

Level 2 matters are not subject to the traditional investigation process; instead the level of inquiry and reporting is to be proportionate to both the circumstances and the potential outcome.

A maximum timeframe of 70 calendar days applies to level 2 matters – by that time the subject officer/s are to receive the Provisional Report, unless the matter has been suspended due to external factors (e.g. a court process, external legal advice, etc.) or finalised in some other way (e.g. informal resolution or formal resolution).  It is expected that, in the absence of external factors, level 2 matters will be completed well within the 70 day timeframe.

If a Provisional Report cannot be provided to the subject officer/s within 70 days, and the matter has not been suspended due to external factors, the district undertaking the inquiry can seek a timeframe extension.

If a level 2 inquiry finds that the Code of Conduct was breached a possible outcome is a Determination Notice and / or section 43(3) Action (limited to the range listed below).  Instances where this may be appropriate are where the:

  • member has a history of multiple similar matters
  • matter is more serious in nature
  • complainant received a minor-moderate injury
  • member is of higher rank (the higher the rank the more serious the matter is to be considered)

Professional Standards would only have carriage of a level 2 matter if it is considered in the wider organisational interest or it is intrinsically related to a matter they are dealing with.

Examples of level 2 (the specific circumstances of any example may mean it fits into another category)

Complaint

  • “When I was getting arrested for not leaving an area when I was told to, I got pushed up against a wall and now I have a graze and a bruise on my face. It was excessive!”
  • “I saw a police officer blatantly texting while driving a police car.”
  • “Sergeant X calls my children ‘mongrels’ every time he deals with them, and not in a friendly way. I have complained before but he continues to do it.”

Internally raised matter

  • falsification of Offence Report outcomes
  • failing to investigate a matter and lying about ever being allocated it
  • accessing a friend’s IDM profile
  • commencing an intimate relationship with a person the officer knows is an active criminal – and failing to declare the association

The decision as to who has responsibility for inquiry into a level 2 matter rests with the relevant district commander.  If the matter is routed to an inspector, that inspector maintains accountability for the inquiry and its outcome (within their delegated authority) unless an insurmountable conflict of interest exists. The inspector can delegate the matter to a sergeant to undertake the inquiry provided they are not the subject officer’s direct supervisor and the subject officer is below the rank of sergeant.  The inspector’s accountability extends to ensuring that the enquiry is completed in a timely manner, that the parameters of procedural fairness are satisfied and that Abacus procedures are complied with.

If the matter is to be routed to a member of a rank higher than inspector, that member has the same accountability as described above.

Following the inquiry, if it is determined that the Code of Conduct was breached, any section 43(3) Action taken will be limited to the following options:

  • inspector’s counselling
  • commander’s counselling
  • commander’s reprimand
  • fine of up to 20 penalty units
  • reassignment of duties
  • transfer

3.3.1.3. Level 3 matters

These are serious matters and are dealt with as a potential breach of the Code of Conduct.  If proven they may warrant termination of appointment and /or amount to a serious offence or crime.  An appropriately extensive level of investigation is required and a maximum timeframe of 6 months is allowed for completion.  If a Provisional Report cannot be provided to the subject officer/s within 6 months, and the matter has not been suspended due to external factors, the district undertaking the inquiry can seek timeframe extension.

Examples of level 3

Complaint

  • “My mate had a deal with a copper to sell him some choof.”
  • “Police broke my arm when they tackled me and now I have nerve damage. I wasn’t even doing anything – just standing there.”

Internally raised matter

  • stealing cash located during the execution of a search warrant
  • stealing found property
  • sexual assault
  • drink driving
  • requesting a colleague to withdraw a Police Infringement Notice (PIN) that they have issued to a friend of the requesting member

Level 3 matters involve situations where:

  • there is an allegation of the commission of a serious offence or crime, or serious breach of the Code of Conduct, that:
    • presents a significant risk to the reputation of Tasmania Police; and / or
    • involves an allegation of corruption
  • the complainant has suffered a significant injury (e.g. significant fracture; loss or permanent limitation on their use of an organ or system; or hospitalisation exceeding 24 hours)

Where a matter satisfies one or more of the above criteria, but there is a compelling reason not to categorise it as a level 3, then written authorisation from the Deputy Commissioner or Professional Standards Commander is required.

Level 3 matters are exclusively dealt with by Professional Standards except where the Deputy Commissioner directs otherwise.  A subject officer’s direct supervisor or manager is not to undertake a level 3 investigation unless the Deputy Commissioner directs otherwise.

3.3.2. Equity and Diversity Levels 1, 2 and 3

The chapter Equity and Diversity provides information about legislation, roles and responsibilities and resolution processes.  A list of categories is included with examples. Members’ Rights and Obligations apply to equity and diversity.  Broader equity and diversity information can be found on the relevant intranet page under People and Culture.

3.3.3. Compliance Review MattersAbacus - Compliance Review Matters table

3.4. Timeframes for Resolution

It is in the interests of all parties that matters are resolved in a timely manner.  Timeframes commence on the date of receipt and registration of a matter.

3.4.1. Measurable Time Points

For accountability purposes, time points are measured at the following stages in the process:

Abacus - Measurable Time Points table

Adherence to timeframes are included in six-monthly reports to the Deputy Commissioner.  Individuals and districts will be accountable for the achievement of the measurable time points.

From the end of the measurable time points there may be other processes which are outside the control of the inquirer / investigator and authoriser and are therefore not measured (e.g. the subject officer’s response and, if they choose it, application for review, the court date of a linked matter).

Abacus - Measurable Time Points table B

3.4.2. Timeframe Extension

Extensions of time to complete a level 1 matter may be granted following written authorisation from the relevant district commander.

Extensions of time to complete a level 2 matter may be granted following written authorisation from the Commander, Professional Standards.  Extension requests must be submitted 14 days before the 70th day.

Extensions of time to complete a level 3 matter may be granted following written authorisation from the Deputy Commissioner.  Extension requests must be submitted 14 days before the expiration of 6 months.

3.5. Delegated Authority from Commissioner

Under section 8 of the Police Service Act 2003 (the Act) the Commissioner may delegate any power, duty or responsibility of the Commissioner under the Act to a police officer.  In the Abacus framework the Commissioner has made such delegations, including under section 46 of the Police Service Act 2003 (investigating complaints), as follows:

3.5.1. to members attached, or seconded, to Professional Standards

  • direct any member of any rank to
    • assist in the inquiry or investigation of a complaint
    • provide any information or document or answer any question for the purpose of the inquiry or investigation
  • inquire into or investigate a complaint in any manner considered appropriate

3.5.2. to the member undertaking the duties of the District Administration Sergeant at Professional Standards

  • in addition to the delegation at 3.5.1 (above) determine the categorisation level of any Abacus matter.

3.5.3. to members of the rank of sergeant

  • direct any member below the rank of sergeant to
    • assist in the inquiry or investigation of a complaint
    • provide any information or document or answer any question for the purpose of the inquiry or investigation
  • informally resolve (conciliate) a complaint
  • inquire into or investigate a complaint allocated to them in any manner considered appropriate

3.5.4. to members of the rank of inspector

  • determine whether to
    • inquire into / investigate complaints; or
    • dismiss complaints
  • determine the categorisation level of any Abacus matter
  • direct any member below the rank of inspector to
    • assist in the inquiry or investigation of a complaint
    • provide any information or document or answer any question for the purpose of the inquiry or investigation
  • inquire into, investigate, or allocate to a sergeant to inquire into or investigate, a complaint in any manner considered appropriate
  • conciliate complaints by informal resolution or formal resolution
  • determine breaches of provisions of the Code of Conduct
  • take action pursuant to section 43(3)(a) of the Act (Inspector’s Counselling):
    • (a) direct that appropriate counselling be provided to the police officer
  • notify subject officers of action taken within the inspector’s delegation
  • notify the determination of complaints to complainants and subject officers

3.5.5. to members of the rank of commander

  • determine whether to
    • inquire into / investigate complaints; or
    • dismiss complaints
  • determine the categorisation level of any Abacus matter
  • direct any member below the rank of commander to
    • assist in the inquiry or investigation of a complaint
    • provide any information or document or answer any question for the purpose of the inquiry or investigation
  • inquire into, investigate or allocate to an inspector or a sergeant to inquire into or investigate, a complaint in any manner considered appropriate
  • conciliate complaints by informal resolution or formal resolution
  • determine breaches of provisions of the Code of Conduct
  • take action pursuant to section 43(3)(a),(b),(c),(e)and(f) of the Act:
    • (a) direct that appropriate counselling be provided to the police officer;
    • (b) reprimand the police officer;
    • (c) impose a fine not exceeding 20 penalty units;
    • (d) …
    • (e) reassign the duties of the police officer; and / or
    • (f) transfer the police officer
  • notify subject officers of action taken within the commander’s delegation
  • notify the determination of complaints to complainants and subject officers

3.5.6. to members of the rank of Assistant Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner

  • determine whether to
    • inquire into or investigate complaints; or
    • dismiss complaints
  • determine the categorisation level of any Abacus matter
  • direct any member to
    • assist in the inquiry or investigation of a complaint
    • provide any information or document or answer any question for the purpose of the investigation
  • inquire into, investigate or delegate for inquiry or investigation, a complaint in any manner considered appropriate
  • conciliate complaints by informal resolution or formal resolution
  • determine breaches of provisions of the Code of Conduct
  • take action pursuant to section 43(3)(a)-(g) of the Act:
    • (a) direct that appropriate counselling be provided to the police officer;
    • (b) reprimand the police officer;
    • (c) impose a fine not exceeding 20 penalty units;
    • (d) direct that the remuneration of the police officer be reduced within the range of remuneration applicable to the police officer;
    • (e) reassign the duties of the police officer;
    • (f) transfer the police officer; and / or
    • (g) place the police officer on probation
  • notify subject officers of action taken within the Assistant Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner delegation
  • notify the determination of complaints to complainants and subject officers.

3.6. Overview of Abacus Outcomes

The primary focus of Abacus is individual and organisational improvement.  Therefore, most outcomes will include CPD. Only matters that result in a Determination Notice will form part of a member’s conduct history.

Under section 43(3) of the Police Service Act 2003, the Commissioner may take one or more of the actions listed under section 43(3) in relation to a member who has breached a provision of the Code of Conduct (levels 2 and 3 only).  The purpose of section 43(3) Actions is to maintain public confidence, uphold proper standards of conduct and hold members accountable for their conduct.

All of the various possible outcomes for Abacus investigations are depicted below:

Abacus - Overview of Abacus Outcomes table

A discretionary decision may be made to not issue a Determination Notice for some breaches of the Code of Conduct – this is only an option when no section 43(3) Action is being taken.

If the final determination is that a Determination Notice is issued the IAPro icon turns red. This means it forms part of the conduct history of that member and may be considered in any future breach of the Code of Conduct.  Any section 43(3) Action of a reprimand or higher will affect the member’s eligibility for wearing or receiving medals.  A Commander is able to impose a limitation on the subject officer wearing or being awarded the Commissioner’s Medal or National Police Service Medal for a period up to and including 12 months. An Assistant Commissioner or the Deputy Commissioner can impose a limitation on the subject officer wearing or being awarded the Commissioner’s Medal or National Police Service Medal for a period up to and including 5 years.

Where the outcome is ‘No Breach’, ‘Breach + No Determination Notice’ or ‘Withdrawn’ the outcome will still be explained to the subject officer.

Fairness and consistency in outcomes is assisted by 6-monthly reports to the Deputy Commissioner and the availability of Professional Standards to provide guidance.

3.7. Early Identification

EIPro is a system connected with IAPro data that allows for early identification of members who have attracted higher numbers of complaints or attract a particular type of complaint within a defined period as compared to other members in the same work area. Early identification (EI) provides an opportunity to identify and, where necessary, address issues which may be affecting a member.  The issues may relate to welfare or knowledge gaps.  Addressing the issue and developing the member may prevent repetition of complaints or conduct matters; or the receiving of more serious complaints.

If a member is identified, a qualitative review of those matters is undertaken by Professional Standards.  If appropriate, a referral is made to the member’s district commander for consideration as to whether any professional development, welfare assistance or another approach is warranted.  If any assistance is required, strategies should be developed in consultation with the member.  The focus of EI is on identifying, rectifying issues and preventing further issue arising.  EI is a CPD and not a Code of Conduct process.

3.8. Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

A key objective of Abacus is to move towards a strong focus on professional development.  CPD is not an indication of wrongdoing – rather, a recognition that a member could benefit from guidance, additional training or viewing their own actions from a different perspective.

3.8.1. Devising and Implementing CPDs

The purpose of CPD is to develop the member.  CPD must be appropriate and applicable to the identified conduct and to the member. It should be considered for every Abacus matter except those that result in termination of appointment.  A CPD may or may not be a one-off event – the intention is to ensure that the improved knowledge and skills are sustained into the future.

Some types of CPD are:

  • increased or targeted supervision
  • verbal guidance
  • coaching
  • mentoring from another officer
  • retraining in an operational skills technique relevant to the conduct
  • retraining on a topic relevant to the conduct, e.g. legislation
  • maintaining a work diary
  • completion of an eLMS module relevant to the conduct
  • other individually tailored development activities

Example

An IRM is raised about a constable repeatedly submitting late files and reports. It is managed as a level 1 and the managerial resolution is CPD of verbal guidance from their sergeant.  Verbal guidance is intended not only to show the member how they are falling short of expected standards, but also to identify any underlying factors that are contributing to the problem (such as a welfare issue).  The sergeant and constable devise a plan to address the underlying problem and agree to have future discussions to ensure that the problem has been addressed and the timeliness of their file submission is at an acceptable standard.

3.8.2. Examples of CPD for Particular Conduct Issues

Note: in these examples matters dealt with as a level 2 or 3 may also result in a determination that the member breached the Code of Conduct which may involve section 43(3) Actions.

Abacus - Examples of CPD for Particular Conduct Issues table

3.8.3. Process for Monitoring Completion of CPD

Satisfactory completion of CPD is reported in the Abacus process and is essential for finalisation of a matter.  Recognising that matters will differ, the standard process is:

  • the member allocated an Abacus matter for resolution devises the CPD
  • they route the BlueTeam™ matter to the authoriser (note the matter will need to be forwarded to Professional Standards first if it has not been allocated an IAPro number)
  • if the authoriser endorses the CPD they create a ‘Task’ on BlueTeam™ (and if not endorsed may devise an alternative CPD)
  • if the authoriser is not the subject officer’s manager then the authoriser routes the matter through BlueTeam™ to that manager
  • the authoriser / manager arranges for the CPD to occur (which may involve liaising with other areas such as the Operational Skills Unit)
  • the area responsible for facilitating the CPD reports back to the authoriser / manager when the CPD has been completed
  • the authoriser / manager updates the BlueTeam Task and routes it to Professional Standards

The Deputy Commissioner receives six-monthly statistical reports on the type, district and completion status of CPD.  The Professional Standards Commander and Education & Training Commander liaise on additional requirements for organisational learning and professional development across the organisation.

3.8.4. CPD Has No Broader Consequences

The intention of CPD is developmental.  CPD implemented under Abacus cannot be used against a member into the future.  Records or documentation relating to CPD are not available for any other organisational decision-making such as awarding of medals, selection for courses, transfers or promotion.  CPD is not recorded as an adverse finding on IAPro™ and does not form part of a member’s conduct history.

3.8.5. Failure to Comply with CPD

If a member fails to satisfactorily comply with any CPD within the allocated timeframe then the matter cannot be closed.  The member’s manager must notify the relevant commander who has oversight of the matter for determination of further action, including whether or not to commence a new Abacus matter for failing to comply with a lawful direction.

3.8.6. Failure of CPD in Developing a Member

If CPD fails to reach the desired developmental outcome the member’s district commander is to consider an alternative CPD.

3.9. Organisational Learning

Just as all members need to learn from personal experiences, Tasmania Police needs to be able to identify any opportunities for organisational improvement.  It is important that this aspect is considered in every Abacus matter. For example, a training gap across the organisation may be identified or there may be a need for a TPM amendment.  Organisational learning may also contribute to legislative reform.  Organisational learning is further assisted from stakeholder surveys and data analysis described in Use of Information, Data Collection and Reporting.