Legal and Professional Standards Department - Taint procedure (P04j)
1. Summary of changes
1.1. This standard operating procedure (SOP) was reviewed in October 2023 - no amendments to content made.
2. What this procedure is about
2.1. The purpose of this SOP is to ensure that issues relating to taint are taken into consideration when determining whether or not vetting clearance should be granted.
2.2 Issues relating to taint are most relevant to members of the force who may be involved in the evidential chain.
Compliance with this SOP and any governing policy is mandatory.
3. Detail the procedure
3.1. Some individuals could be tainted if they have previous convictions, cautions, warnings, final warnings, reprimands or other judicial findings, or disciplinary enquiries or findings.
3.2 Guidance to forces on the impact of disclosure of convictions and cautions is provided in chapter 18 of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) disclosure manual. The document ensures compliance with the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA) and provides guidance on all information that will be revealed to the prosecutor.
3.3. The driver for the implementation of taint is best demonstrated through case law.
3.4 R v Edwards (1991) – this case was an appeal against a conviction for armed robbery. The senior investigating officer had been the subject of a disciplinary reprimand for forging interview notes in a previous case. This was not disclosed to the defence in the original trial. The appeal was allowed and the conviction quashed.
3.5 R v Guney (1998) – this was an appeal against a conviction for possession of drugs and firearms. A number of officers involved in the original arrest and investigation had been investigated under operation JACKPOT (an internal misconduct investigation). Details of operation JACKPOT had not been disclosed to the defence in the original trial. Again, the appeal was allowed. In this case, the following judicial comment was made: “Evidence of previous misconduct may help demonstrate that the weight to be attached to the evidence of a witness is limited or derisory”.
3.6 When a police officer, member of the Special Constabulary or police staff employee is required to give evidence in Court in their official capacity, they are required to complete a form MG6B, revealing relevant information, such as:
details of any criminal convictions, cautions, reprimands, warnings or final warnings whether spent or otherwise
details of any criminal proceedings that have not been completed, or offences for which summons have yet to be issued
fixed penalty notices for disorder
details of any adverse judicial findings, or adverse comments in a criminal or civil court where an individual has misled the court or otherwise behaved inappropriately in terms of honesty or integrity
exceptional occasions when the interests of justice require that other information is revealed to the prosecutor, and disclosure considered. An example here might be a local intelligence record that an individual had been arrested for a criminal offence and was not prosecuted simply because the victim withdrew consent
disciplinary findings of guilt at a misconduct hearing/meeting, e.g. formal written warnings
disciplinary proceedings that have not been completed
3.7 Individuals should seek advice from the Professional Standards Department if they have any doubt about their obligations to reveal information, particularly in relation to determining whether formal written warnings or other judicial findings are relevant.
3.8 Any information revealed is evaluated by the CPS and may be disclosed to the defence. Such information may include, but is not limited to:
criminal convictions – the fact of and immediate details surrounding the conviction
criminal cautions, reprimands, warnings, final warnings or other judicial findings – for the purposes of taint, there is no conceptual difference between convictions and cautions, other than the requirement to admit the offence for the latter
3.9 When considering applications for vetting clearance, the ramifications of convictions, reprimands, cautions, warnings, final warnings or other judicial findings, should be carefully considered. Where these exist, it is likely that only in a limited number of cases, where there are exceptional circumstances, recruitment will follow (although the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exemptions) Order 1975 will be taken into consideration in respect of applicants for posts other than police officer and police Special Constabulary).
3.11 The impact of appointing an individual would be required to disclose convictions and cautions in accordance with Chapter 18 of the CPS Disclosure manual and CPIA cannot be underestimated. It can heavily affect the deployment of such an individual on appointment, and in some cases throughout their career. Generally, the impact of taint will lessen as the time since the “finding” recedes. Thus, when allowing an individual subject of the disclosure requirements to be appointed, they must be made aware of the impact that such a requirement will have on their career. Particular care must, therefore, be taken when clearing a candidate who will have to disclose matters outlined in paragraph 3.6 above.
4. Equality Impact Assessment (EIA)
4.1 An EIA has been carried out and shows the proposals in this policy would have no potential or actual differential impact on grounds of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, transgender, disability, age, religion or belief or sexual orientation.
5. Risk assessment
5.1 This SOP has been assessed as medium risk.
Professional Standards Corruption and Misconduct Team
Central Vetting Unit
Health and Safety
Freedom of Information
7. Monitoring and review
7.1 This SOP will be monitored, and reviewed after two years, by the force vetting manager. The monitoring will take into consideration any changes in relevant legislation or procedures impacting on taint.
8. Other source documents
9.1 Kent Police have measures in place to protect the security of your data in accordance with our Information Management policy (Policy W1000 – Information Management).