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29 June 2020
NRCPD condemns all forms of racism, discrimination, bullying and harassment in the conduct of the professionals we regulate. As part of our commitment to tackling this we are announcing the following:
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NRCPD is determined that we do everything we can to tackle all forms of racism, discrimination, bullying and harassment in registrants' professional conduct so we can maintain public trust and confidence in the professions we regulate. In order to strengthen our ability to do this we are bringing forward the announcement of our intention to make two important changes to the complaints process and Code of Conduct. The current code was published in 2015 and it limits breaches of the code to those issues arising from practice and that are the subject of a complaint: this has been of significant regret for NRCPD in a number of instances.
The first change therefore, is to extend the reach of the code of conduct so that where racism, discrimination, bullying and harassment are evident in a registrant's wider professional life, then action can be taken under the Code whether associated with a communications support assignment or not. This change to the Code will mean that in any situation where someone is acting in their capacity as a professional (such as a CPD event) or clearly identifiable as a professional regulated by NRCPD (such as an online forum), any racist, discriminatory or bullying behaviour can be subject to a complaint and investigated as a potential breach of the code under 6.1. Maintaining Public trust and confidence in you and the profession. We will also intend to widen the scope of section 1.2 to match.
The second is that where there is an overriding public interest, we will assume the power to investigate based on information received irrespective of whether someone wishes to pursue a complaint. This means that we may be able to act on information for the most serious breaches without someone having to make a complaint themselves.
NRCPD's complaints process will still be governed by civil legal procedures. This means that cases will still be heard by a Complaints Committee that is chaired by an independent legal professional and which will decide the case based on evidence and will award a sanction that is appropriate and proportionate to the breach. We intend to issue guidance on the seriousness of breaches so that cases involving racism, discrimination, bullying and harassment are given proper weight as serious breaches. These changes will not act retrospectively or operate in someone's private life, but are a clear statement of our determination to deal with these issues in future. We will consult with others before these changes can come in and will seek legal advice on implementation and on the specific wording of sections 1.2 and 6.1. We will update with dates and further details as things fall in place.
These changes have been highlighted during the current full complaints process review as a result of a pattern of registrant behaviour and conduct (across the full range of bullying harassment, racism and discrimination) over the last 18 months that was outside practice but nevertheless could be regarded as undermining public trust and confidence in the professions. However the full review will not be finished until later in the year so we are announcing these two changes earlier.
In the meantime, where a professional's conduct is such that it may be breaking criminal law (hate speech, bullying and harassment) then police authorities can be informed. Under existing rules, any charges brought by police are notifiable to NRCPD and any conviction will be considered for removal from the NRCPD registers.