Audit of the fairness of decisions in our fitness to practise procedures
What were the key findings?
- The auditors found no evidence of bias in the way our fitness to practise decision makers interpreted the guidance they use to make their decisions.
- In all cases audited, the auditors concluded that the decisions taken were in line with the guidance provided to the decision makers.
- With no departure from guidance identified, the auditors had no need to move the audit to a second stage, which would have analysed any departures from guidance.
Why did we commission this research?
This audit is part of an ongoing programme of work to ensure that our fitness to practise procedures are fair, consistent and robust. The audit considered whether the decisions made by our staff at key stages of our investigation process are consistent with the guidance provided to them to help them reach these decisions.
A previous audit found no evidence of bias or discriminatory practices in our guidance and criteria documentation for decision-makers. Given this material hadn’t substantially changed since then, it wasn’t reviewed in the current audit.
What did the research involve?
With academic advice, the auditors selected a sample of 120 cases from three key decision points in our fitness to practise procedures – 80 triage decisions; 15 provisional enquiry decisions and 25 case examiner decisions at the end of an investigation. The sample was selected from all such decisions taken between 1 November 2018 and 31 October 2019.
The auditors were provided with the relevant guidance that our decisions makers used to reach their decision as well as the evidence available to the decision maker. The auditors, all experienced legal professionals, then systematically reviewed the appropriateness of the decisions taken in relation to the guidance and evidence.