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You are here: Home Police Service Reviews Notable cases and decisions
You are here: Home Police Service Reviews Notable cases and decisions
You are here: Home Police Service Reviews Notable cases and decisions

Notable cases and decisions

Transfer – set aside (behavioural indicators / inconsistent scores)
Promotion – affirmed (feedback / final ratings / work history / panel composition)
Promotions – affirmed (selection process undertaken whilst on leave)
Promotions – set aside (interviews / referee reports / personal knowledge)
Promotion – set aside (shortlisting / age of examples / changes to ratings)
Transfer – no jurisdiction (tenure)

 


 

Transfer – set aside (behavioural indicators / inconsistent scores)

Overview of issues

Issue 1: The panel did not develop behavioural indicators for the position as required

Issue 2: The overall scores assigned to the recommended appointee’s application did not reflect shortlisting notes and therefore a lack of transparency in the way the application was assessed

Assessment of issues

Issue 1: The panel did not develop behavioural indicators for the position as required

The Review Commissioner suggested that panels need to consider both the relevant QPLF capabilities, which include behavioural indicators, and the key accountabilities of the specific job in question.

Issue 2: The overall scores assigned to the recommended appointee’s application did not reflect shortlisting notes and therefore a lack of transparency in the way the application was assessed

The generic application at short listing received the highest moderated ratings by the panel despite significant shortcomings noted by two panel members. The same generosity was not extended to the assessed ratings of the other application.

The Review Commissioner was not convinced that the panel had balanced the strength of the claims in relation to capabilities and the strength of claims in relation to the specific skills required in the job in determining the most meritorious applicant.

The accepted recommendation was to set aside the appointment.

 


 

Promotion – affirmed (feedback / final ratings / work history / panel composition)

Overview of issues

Issue 1: Timing and quality of feedback

Issue 2: Whether any other actions rendered the process flawed

Assessment of issues

Issue 1: Timing and quality of feedback

It is common practice for feedback to be provided by the Panel Convenor, but is not a requirement. Thus, the manner in which the panel provided feedback does not represent flawed process.

Issue 2: Whether any other actions rendered the process flawed

A mistake, together with the total absence of any explanation by the panel in the Comments section of the Final Individual Matrix about the reasoning of the panel in determining their final ratings provided no reassurance that the panel had seriously and methodically undertaken their role.  Nonetheless, the Review Commissioner was not convinced these failures by the panel were so substantial that they rendered the whole process flawed.

The Review Commissioner was also unconvinced that assertions relating to the length of service or the manner in which the panel considered previous work history represented flawed process.

Finally, the composition of the panel is determined by the Delegated Officer so the decision about whether a role has substantial public contact/interface rests with the Delegate. All applicants had the opportunity to object to the composition of the panel at the outset of the selection process. The failure to include an external person on the panel does not itself represent flawed process.

Despite the inadequacy, the Review Commissioner did not assess the process flaws so serious as to render the whole selection process flawed.

The accepted recommendation was to affirm the appointment.

 


 

Promotions – affirmed (selection process undertaken whilst on leave)

Overview of issues

Issue 1: The Applicant’s notification (in the application) that they would be absent on leave during the selection process

Issue 2: The Applicant had no knowledge of the impending interviews prior to taking leave

Issue 3: Finalisation of the selection could have been delayed

Assessment of Issues

Issue 1: The Applicant’s notification (in the application) that they would be absent on leave during the selection process

The Applicant assumed that an email from the panel asking to confirm dates of leave indicated that the Applicant’s absence had not been adequately considered.

Whilst the Applicant may have assumed that this was a disadvantage, the query requesting clarification does not indicate any disadvantage or lack of fairness and thus any flawed process.

Issue 2: The Applicant had no knowledge of the impending interviews prior to taking leave

The Panel Convenor stated that the Applicant should have been aware of the probable timeline and thus have been vigilant in ensuring that the panel had up-to-date contact details. The applicant further argued that there were a number of avenues open to them to remind the panel of the impending absence. The Panel Convenor insisted that the onus was clearly on the

Applicant to ensure that the panel had these up-to-date contact details.
Nonetheless, it is clear that the Applicant did not keep the panel advised of contact details for the period of the absence which is not only a requirement specifically mentioned in the Standard, but also a reasonable common sense requirement.

Issue 3: Finalisation of the selection could have been delayed

The Panel Convenor’s position was that panel members would not have been available in one location to conduct an interview with the Applicant and that this would have been likely to result in the selection having to be aborted and a new panel appointed.  Because of this, delaying the interview was not an option. The Panel Convenor also outlined actions the panel had taken or were prepared to take to accommodate interviewing the Applicant.

Irrespective of the strength or otherwise of the argument that conducting interviews over a period of time necessarily results in disadvantage to some applicants, the fundamental issue is that the panel were unable to contact the Applicant, despite the extensive efforts of the Panel Convenor. This resulted in their inability to consider any alternative methods (other than face-to-face interview) of further assessing the Applicant’s claims.

The accepted recommendation was to affirm the appointment.

 


 

Promotions – set aside (interviews / referee reports / personal knowledge)

Overview of issues

Issue 1: Interviews conducted on different days

Issue 2: Differences in time allocated to Interviewees

Issue 3: The manner in which referee comments were handled

Issue 4: How personal knowledge and potential bias were managed

Identification of the issues

Issue 1: Interviews conducted on different days

While interviewing short listed applicants on different days may have been outside the process that Queensland Police Service generally follows, the Review Commissioner was unconvinced that taken alone, the additional time the Applicant was afforded prior to interview represents a significant enough flaw in the process to render the whole process flawed.

Issue 2: Differences in time allocated to interviewees

All applicants were advised prior to interview of the intended interviews duration allocated in which applicants could present their claims by responding to questions.

At the commencement of the Applicant’s interview, they were informed by the panel that the interview duration time had been altered. The applicant asserted that this change in the amount of time he had been allocated to present his claims threw him and throughout the interview he was conscious of the reduced time.

It was the intention of the panel to advise all the applicants of the changed time. The panel then decided that in the interests of fairness they should allow all applicants the longer period to answer the questions.

Thus, no other applicant was informed at the commencement of their interview that the time would be changed.

Issue 3: The manner in which referee comments were handled

Short listed applicants were informed that their claims would be assessed on three criteria, each carrying equal weight. Those criteria were: their application; their performance at interview and the comments from their referees. This is a commendable approach by the panel. It uses three distinct selection tools for each short listed applicant and thus broadens the basis of their decision making. As a result, it is likely a more comprehensive assessment of the merit of the applicants will occur.

Instead of giving comparative weight to referee comments and ranking them – some better than others – they gave all short-listed applicants the same ‘rating’ for their referee report.

The manner in which referee reports were dealt with constitutes flawed process.

Issue 4: How personal knowledge and potential bias were managed

As is normal in regional areas, many of the applicants for the position were known or well known to one or more of those on the panel. This is not a problem and is not, of itself, likely to interfere with a fair and equitable selection undertaken in an impartial manner. Indeed, personal knowledge can provide rich information for the panel which can enhance the effectiveness of merit selection.

Critical to ensuring that this occurs in a transparent and fair way is the panel ensuring that they discuss and declare to each other their prior knowledge of applicants. This includes any assessment they have formed or that they have knowledge of others having formed about any of the applicants. This is the only way in which a fair and transparent process can be designed and fellow panel members can guarantee that pre-existing knowledge does not inappropriately bias the panel member but rather, is used in an appropriate and helpful way.

One of the Applicant’s concern was that a panel member was biased marked them poorly.

At the hearing, the panel convenor explained the panel member was a harder marker than the other panel members. However, there was no similar disparity between the scores assigned by that panel member and the other panel members for other applicants. This may not of itself have aroused concern if the panel had provided a more comprehensive account of not only the fact that they had personal knowledge but also what that knowledge was and how they, as a panel, had taken that knowledge into account and used it fairly and effectively in the selection. Had they taken this action and provided more information about what they had done, they would have ensured that no one was unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged because of pre-existing knowledge.

Selection needs not only to be fair but it also needs to be transparent and seen to be fair. In this case, there is not adequate transparency to understand why the variation in the relativity of the ratings assigned by to the Applicant differed so markedly from the variation in the relativity of the ratings assigned to other applicants.

This represents flawed process.

Process flaws of differing relative seriousness are evident in Issues 2, 3 and 4 discussed above. Taken together they combine to render the selection process flawed.

The Review Commissioner found that there were process flaws of differing relative seriousness evident in Issues 2, 3 and 4. Taken together they combine to render the selection process flawed.

The accepted recommendation was to set aside the appointment and the selection process reassessed.

 


 

Promotion – set aside (shortlisting / age of examples / changes to ratings)

Overview of issues

Issue 1: The manner in which the shortlisting was conducted – was there unconscious bias?

Issue 2: Whether judgements about the relative worth of older examples in applications fairly and consistently made and applied?

Issue 3: Changes to individual panel members’ ratings

Identification of the issues

Issue 1: The manner in which the shortlisting was conducted – was there unconscious bias?

In the Panel Convenor’s written response to the Applicant’s supplementary submission, the Convenor provides information about a conversation that had been overheard by a Panel Member. During that conversation the Applicant is alleged to have indicated to a more junior officer that they did not want to work at that location. The Panel Convenor states that this conversation did not influence the assessment of the Applicant’s application.

However, the panel member undertook short listing at a time when they had that information. The Panel Convenor reports that this information was not declared to others on the panel. Declaring personal knowledge about any of the applicants is an important part of ensuring that selection processes are as fair and transparent as possible. It is not a problem if panel members possess knowledge about an applicant. But it is critical that all the knowledge that panel members do possess (and any resultant impressions that they may have formed) is declared to fellow panel members. Other panel members are then able to ensure that the knowledge does not unfairly bias (either positively or negatively) consideration of the applicant or applicants involved.  In this case this did not occur and, as a consequence, the panel wasn’t able to discuss how to fairly manage that information.

Issue 2: Whether judgements about the relative worth of older examples in applications fairly and consistently made and applied?

There is no clear explanation of how the panel consistently and fairly dealt with older examples.

Panels must treat aged examples provided by all applicants in a selection exercise in a consistent manner. In this case it is not possible to understand how that consistency was applied.

Issue 3: Changes to individual panel members’ ratings

The individual matrices completed by panel members indicate that one of the panel members made considerable alterations to the initial ratings that he allocated to the Applicant. This is not of itself a problem; however, there is no explanation of the considerations that influenced this change in the Panel Convenor’s Reports. When asked about these changes at the Hearing, the explanation provided by the Panel Convenor could provide no further insight into the considerations that influenced those changes. Changing the individual ratings appears to have resulted in the Applicant being eliminated from further consideration.

The panel failed to provide any explanation for the changes.

Process flaws are evident in the first three areas discussed above. Neither the submissions of the Panel nor discussions at the Hearing provided adequate explanation about the considerations or decision making of the Panel in relation to those flaws. The decision making process of the panel is not transparent. Taken together and combined with the failure of the Panel to provide adequate explanation, those process flaws are serious enough to render the process flawed.

The accepted recommendation was to set aside the appointment and the selection process be reassessed.

 


 

Transfer – no jurisdiction (tenure)

Overview of issues

Issue 1: The Applicant lodged an application for review relating to a selection process for the position of OIC of a station

Identification of the issues

Issue 1: The Applicant lodged an application for review relating to a selection process for the position of OIC of a station

The Applicant received advice from the Panel Convenor that they had been nominated as the most meritorious applicant for the position. However, the delegated officer did not waive the tenure in the applicant’s existing position. Subsequently the Applicant was not offered the position.

The Applicant was of the view, that as the most meritorious applicant they should have been offered the position.

Consideration by the Review Commissioner

In the view of the Review Commissioner, a decision by the Commissioner of Police or his delegate, as has occurred in this instance, to decline to appoint a preferred applicant after a selection process to a police officer position based on the existing tenure of that officer in another position, is an industrial matter as defined in the Industrial Relations Act 1999.

A decision not to appoint the applicant who emerges from the selection process as the one selected for appointment on account of tenure issues particular to the circumstances of the applicant, do not form part of the selection procedure which a Review Commissioner has jurisdiction to review. A decision not to appoint an applicant after selection process more properly belongs to the responsibility of the Commissioner of Police which is described in detail in section 4.8 and more particularly section 4.8(2) of the Police Service Administration Act 1990.

The particular paragraphs of that subsection which are relevant here are the Commissioner of Police’s responsibility in relation to determination of priorities, control of human resources, determining the deployment of officers and internal redeployment of officers.

These elements are the responsibility of the Commissioner of Police and the various decisions that they make in pursuit of this responsibility are not the subject matter of jurisdiction of the Review Commissioner. It is particularly important to note that in discharging prescribed responsibilities the Commissioner of Police is required to comply with all relevant awards or industrial agreements, determinations and rules made by an industrial authority. The jurisdiction of the Review Commissioner is a limited one and in his view (for present purposes) relates only the conduct of a selection process. It is clear enough that the delegated officer within the police service is entitled to elect not to approve the selection of an applicant on the basis that minimum tenure has not been satisfied. The Review Commissioner took the view that his jurisdiction is limited to a review of the merit based selection process by which the applicant was chosen as the preferred applicant and did not extend to any review of a decision by the delegated officer under QPS Enterprise Bargaining Certified Agreement 2013 paragraph 13(2)(e)(iii).

The Review Commissioner’s decision was that there was no jurisdiction to deal with the application.

Last updated: 29 June 2017

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