Related Sector: Complaints, Health & Social Care

In the normal course of investigations, information obtained from complainants, witnesses and those being investigated, will hold key evidence as to the seriousness of those issues under investigation and potentially offer direction towards resolution.

Often overlooked is the concept that this information can be altered by a variety of influences on the individual. These influences are often described as "human factors". Human factors are the natural unintended or contrived agendas that come to the fore when people become involved in challenging situations or come under scrutiny.

Indeed, the motivation behind complainants, victims, witnesses and persons of interest in investigations as well as their actions are all subject to the influence of human factors such as past experience, working practice, culture, the nature of relationships and expectations; to name but a few. These human factors may to a greater or lesser degree effect the credibility of the evidence and ultimately the reliability placed on such evidence.

Modern investigators must recognise and evaluate any potential influences that human factors may have which could prejudice their practice and findings.

Patrick Keenan, Bond Solon Subject Matter Expert in Complaints Handling and Investigations and former Senior Manager Complaints and Litigation at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, with a wide experience of dealing with human factors in investigation, states:

“It is important from the outset that the investigation looks to identify and manage human factors from wherever they present. It is, of particular importance, when using interview models such as PEACE during the planning and preparation phase and actively during the live parts of the interview, that human factors are managed. Everyone comes to the table with some influences benign or otherwise. Investigators must look to identify and work with such factors in order to maintain objectivity and attach the appropriate weight to this evidence".

Best practice in investigations is about identifying and evaluating all the evidence and producing a report that is factually based, where any reader can see and understand the logical progression from incident through to recommendations.

Reducing the likelihood of misdirecting investigations in their early stages and helping to eliminate the possible accusation of bias when presenting conclusions goes a long way towards building the credibility and transparency of the investigation and towards resolution.  

Bond Solon provides a range of one-day courses and a national recognised qualification in complaints handling and investigations to provide you with the essential knowledge and skills to conduct a complaints investigation to best practice standards.

Please visit our course webpage for more information.

Bond Solon
020 7549 2549

This article was first published on the 4th December 2018.

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