Making a snap decision with CCTV footage to support an allegation
Published 09 September 2020
There is a well-known saying that the camera never lies… and it is one that employers seem to adopt when considering CCTV footage in disciplinary matters.
Stan was a secondary school teacher who was accused of inappropriately restraining a disruptive Year 11 pupil.
The schoolgirl’s parents complained and Stan was immediately suspended. He was told that he would be required to attend an investigation meeting.
Stan was informed by the headteacher that the incident had been captured on CCTV and it did not look good.
Given the seriousness of the allegation Stan’s career in the teaching profession was at risk if the allegation was proven.
Stan, who had worked at the West Yorkshire school for four years, was in complete shock. He was convinced that he had not done anything wrong.
However, the words of the headteacher did alarm him and caused him to seriously doubt himself.
Stan was invited to attend an investigation meeting to face allegations of inappropriate and unauthorised restraint which breached school policy.
The school disciplinary policy meant that Stan could be accompanied to the investigation meeting, and he contacted Castle Associates for help.
Employees accused of misconduct do not have the statutory right to be accompanied at meetings that are purely investigatory in nature and employers will usually make this clear in their disciplinary procedure.
Stan met with our representative prior to the investigation meeting and explained that the incident had been captured on CCTV, but he had not yet been allowed to view the footage.
Our representative contacted the school and argued that Stan should be allowed to view the footage prior to the meeting in order so that he could fully prepare to answer the serious allegation he was facing. The school eventually granted the request.
Our representative also requested a copy of the school behaviour policy, which provided advice for teachers about the use of reasonable force.
At the investigation meeting our representative was able to use the CCTV footage to point out that the female pupil had been confrontational and the physical contact between her and Stan was fleeting.
She had briefly walked into his arm, which was outstretched to prevent her from entering a classroom to confront another female pupil she had been fighting with earlier.
Our representative argued that in the circumstances Stan’s actions were reasonable and did not breach school policy on the use of reasonable force.
Following a short adjournment to the investigation meeting Stan was informed that the allegation would not be pursued.
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