In Crawford v Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, the Court of Appeal made comments about the appropriateness of involving the police and suspending employees in misconduct cases.
The Court of Appeal reinstated a decision of the Employment Tribunal that two nurses had been unfairly dismissed for gross misconduct in restraining elderly dementia patients in an unauthorised manner. The Court of Appeal held that the Tribunal had been entitled to conclude that the dismissals were unfair because of procedural errors: the Trust had insufficient evidence, based on an inadequate investigation.
Commenting on the decisions to suspend the two employees and to refer the matter to the police, Lord Justice Elias added a significant footnote (although the comments do not form part of the decision). Employers owe duties to their long serving staff and should not subject them to possible criminal proceedings without the most careful consideration and a genuine and reasonable belief that the case, if established, could be described as criminal. He also commented that suspension is often wrongly viewed as being in the employee's best interests and reiterated a warning made in previous cases that if suspension is a "knee-jerk" reaction, it will be a breach of the duty of trust and confidence towards the employee.