I have written a piece about Segregation of Duties and Toxic Combinations on my linkedin blog. The bulk of the article talks about how to organise staff roles and responsibilities to meet the standard admin/developer segregation of duties rules in IT organisations but it also talks about the need to apply segregation of duties in the justice system. I say a bit more here and comment on lessons for the Labour Party.

In the world of police and justice, the need for a segregation of duties has been long understood. It is known that an uncontrolled police force is the mark of a totalitarian society. In most democracies, the police investigate a crime identifying witnesses and evidence, independent prosecutors take the decision to prosecute, and courts hear the case with the role of Judge who issues penalties, and jury who assess the facts and determine guilt being an additional separation of duties. Measures are taken to eliminate conflicts of interest by having judges step down if there is a conflict of interest, for instance if they are a participant in the case as either complainant/defendent or a witness, and to ensure that crimes committed within each of these roles cannot be covered up. Whether the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the Bar Association, the Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman or their international equivalents are enough is a question for debate, but their existence is a crucial part of the defence of justice.

In the febrile atmosphere of the Labour Party today, the lack of control over the General Secretary and his staff together with the failure to adopt a modern segregation of duties, means the General Secretary acts as investigator, and prosecutor. He is also the employing manager of the Regional Directors who often also act as Judge & Jury. This growing and serious problem is, in many cases, compounded by a lack of grievance and whistle-blower processes. The aggressive use of the complaints process and the often, dual role of complainants and role holders in the process is also a problem. The Chakrabarti report saw the lack of professional lawyers, a legally qualified Head of Legal, partly as a skills issue but a professional lawyer’s strong binding to act both as an officer of the court and to preserve their professional registration would be a significant advance to what we have today, a bunch of people trained in the worst of student and trade union politics where winning counts for more than justice and there is no accounting of collateral damage.

Toxic Combinations
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