Measuring performance

Legally Qualified Advisors

Our office has a statutory duty to maintain a list of Legally Qualified Advisors (LQAs) who are available to support police Misconduct Hearings.

Legally Qualified Advisors (previously Legally Qualified Chairs) are individuals who remain independent of the police in order to provide fair and impartial support to Misconduct Hearings chaired by a Chief Officer. The management of LQAs is one of the roles of our Office, that relates to the handling of complaints and the scrutiny of Surrey Police performance.

Most local policing bodies including the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner have collectively decided to maintain lists of LQAs by region. LQAs used in Surrey may also support police Misconduct Hearings in Thames Valley, Kent, Sussex and Hampshire.

The below conditions outline the terms of the selection, recruitment and management of Legally Qualified Advisors used in Surrey, Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Thames Valley.

You can view our Legally Qualified Chairs (LQC) Handbook here (open document text may download automatically). Please note that the LQA handbook is currently being reviewed so as to bring inline with the latest requirements for LQAs.

Recruitment

Appointments are made for a duration of four years and individual LQAs may also sit on lists for more than one policing region. LQAs may appear on any one list for a maximum of eight years (two terms) before they must wait an additional four years to re-apply to join the same list. This helps to prevent over familiarity with police forces or lack of independence of Advisors.

Opportunities to join local policing body LQA lists will be advertised on Commissioners’ and police force’s websites as well as through other specialist legal web pages. All LQA appointments are made in line with the judicial-appointment eligibility condition.

Particular attention is paid to ensuring, where possible, that the pool of LQAs that make up the list for the region is as diverse as possible to reflect the diversity of our communities.

For LQAs to be effective, and to allow for a trusted and fair process, they need to be selected on a consistent basis.

Communication between LQAs, our office and Surrey Police

Previously, regulations stipulated that the powers given to LQCs should include the setting of all hearing dates, allowing them to effectively support the hearing process. However, as the responsibility for setting dates and chairing of such hearings has now been passed to the Chief Officer, LQAs are now only required to provide advice to the chair on legal and procedural matters and are no longer part of the decision-making process by the panel.

The relevant Commissioner’s office will remain in close consultation with the police force’s Professional Standards Departments that have knowledge of the case so that this information can be passed on to panel members including LQAs and Independent Panel Members (IPMs).

The Police (Conduct) regulations 2020 as amended by the Police (Conduct) (Amendment) Regulations 2024 provide a clear timetable for misconduct proceedings and LQAs are provided with the case papers and other evidence in accordance with this timetable.

Selection of LQAs for Misconduct Hearings

The agreed method of selecting an LQA is the use of a ‘cab rank’ system. On establishing the need to hold a Misconduct Hearing, our office will access the list of available LQAs, for example using a digital portal, and select the first person on the list. The person first on the list should be the LQA who is selected at random and based on the last time they were involved in a case.

The LQA is then contacted and told that a hearing is necessary, sharing with the LQA as many details about the case as possible. For example, the dates when it must be heard by and an estimate of the length of the case. This information will already have been gathered by the Professional Standards Department of the police force. The LQA can then consider their availability and are required to accept or decline the request to provide advice within three working days to avoid a delay to proceedings.

If the LQA is able to support the hearing then they are formally appointed in accordance with the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2020 as amended by the Police (Conduct) (Amendment) Regulations 2024. The timetable provisions in the Regulations are then in effect. This includes the serving of a Regulation 30 Notice (written notice to an officer that they will be required to attend a misconduct hearing) and the officer in question’s Regulation 31 Response (the Officer’s written response to the notice that they must attend a misconduct hearing).

The Regulations allow LQAs to then consult with the Chair on matters such as the date for any misconduct pre-hearing and the date(s) of the hearing itself. The LQA is then responsible for providing advice to the Chair/panel throughout the proceedings.

If the LQA isn’t available to be appointed to support the proceedings, then they remain at the top of the list to be selected for another hearing. The local policing body then engages the LQA second on the list, and so the selection continues.

Further information

Contact us to find out more about the use of LQAs or the process of holding police Misconduct hearings in Surrey. Depending on the nature of your enquiry, we may also direct your questions to the Professional Standards Department of Surrey Police (PSD).

PSD can also be contacted directly here.

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