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Police Disagreements


1. Where a disagreement exists between the DS/police staff supervisor and the custody sergeant there is an escalation process in place to help resolve the dispute. Can you provide more details of this process, specifically who takes the decision to escalate the dispute?

2. In the new working practices every investigation is viewed in terms of two discrete phases and each phase is devolved to a different team of officers. The arrest is undertaken by the specialist capture team and the investigation done by the specialist investigation team. Can you confirm that I have understood the process correctly?


In relation to question 1, where there is a general disagreement between sergeants, the issue would be taken to the rank above i.e. the Insp. If the disagreement was of a more serious nature, then Section 39 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 would apply. Please see the relevant section below:- 

(6) Where - 

a)    an officer of higher rank than the custody officer gives directions relating to a person in police detention; and

b)    the directions are at variance – 

  1. with      any decision made or action taken by the custody officer in the      performance of a duty imposed on him under this Part of this Act; or
         (ii) with any decision or action which would but for the directions have      been made or taken by him in the performance of such a duty,
  2. the      custody officer shall refer the matter at once to an officer of the rank      of superintendent or above who is responsible for the police station for      which the custody officer is acting as custody officer.

In relation to question 2, as you may be aware the Freedom of Information Act allows a right of access to recorded information. For the purpose of the Act, information that is recorded or documented can be disclosed. Information will not be held for the purposes of the Act where it relates to, for example, understanding, knowledge and opinion and is not recorded. 

There is no obligation for the constabulary to create information to satisfy a request. In this instance we would need to create an answer or provide confirmation to your questions. As such the answer is not recorded. 

However, for your knowledge, an arrest may be made by a specialist team on behalf of an investigating officer. In this instance the investigating officer may retain ownership of the investigation. An arrest may also be made by an initial responding officer. It is these cases that will be considered on the basis of threat harm and risk as to who is the most appropriately skilled officer  or which is the most appropriate department to deal with the detainee and take ownership of the investigation. Please note that this information has been provided outside of the scope of the Act. Such a request is best dealt with as business as usual rather than under Freedom of Information.

FOI Reference: 192/16