The key behaviours of investigators



The key behaviours of investigators

The purpose of an investigation is to gather information to establish the facts that gave rise to the allegation of prohibited conduct. In order to do this, the panel must act at all times in accordance with these principles:

Objective Findings are to be based on substantiated facts and related analysis, not suppositions or assumptions


Do not advocate for either party or show any bias in favour of any party


Do not seek to resolve / mediate and disclose any potential conflict of interest


Do not misrepresent facts


Only investigate matters presented and in scope of the terms of reference


Be polite, professional, and non-confrontational


Act promptly - do not delay without good reason that has been documented


No unauthorized disclosures


Act fairly and reasonably, without bias, explore all relevant lines of enquiry, looking at inculpatory and exculpatory evidence


How to do all this in different contexts is explored in this toolkit.

Relevant provisions:


Taking account of the emotional context within an investigation

The panel is being asked to gather information and establish facts. This is an analytical exercise. However, investigations are about real people and often take place in a highly charged emotional context. Being an excellent investigator involves acknowledging these emotions and taking account of them in the process, whilst never straying from the key competencies of investigators.

Here are some of the possible emotions witnesses, affected individuals and alleged offenders may feel during an investigation:

  • Over the nature of the conduct
  • About being involved


  • Because of the impact, on them or on others
  • Cultural predisposition


  • Over the process
  • About the role of the investigator


  • Of the system
  • Of the people including investigators or decision maker


  • Of retaliation or repercussions
  • Of speaking out
  • Of impact on reputation 


  • About the behaviours
  • Because it was tolerated
  • Because of unfairness

Panel members need to be aware of the potential for an emotional response as:

  • they will be relevant to how the panel will conduct the interviews. For example, witnesses may need a break or a support person present during an interview and
  • they may be relevant to the panel’s fact finding (e.g. Sophie had a clear mistrust of the investigation process, tending not to respond to questions until pushed and querying the panel’s authority to investigate. She frequently mentioned her concern as to what would happen to the individuals being investigated. The panel finds that Sophie may have withheld some information as a result of these concerns).

If the panel has concerns about someone’s wellbeing during an investigation, the panel should advise them of available support mechanisms, such as the Staff Counsellor. If concerns arise during the course of an interview, for instance, if the interviewee appears unwell or distressed, the panel should take a break before proceeding.

It is important to remember that the panel’s role is to establish facts. It should not make recommendations or suggestions to the affected individual, the alleged offender or the witnesses. If they express a wish for mediation or informal resolution, the panel can inform them that this option exists, without making any recommendations that would call into question the panel’s impartiality.

Relevant provisions: