By Brendan Roberts

The Police Association recently conducted a members’ survey to gauge perceptions across ranks relating to Victoria Police’s Performance Development Assessment.

The survey results revealed that the majority of both those subject to assessments and those conducting the assessments do not view the PDA favourably.

The broad reason for this is the subjective use of the system in practice and the way in which it fails to uphold its stated intention.

Members overwhelmingly state that the current system has evolved away from performance development and towards a management tool that is easily used for the wrong purposes, with only 21% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that the PDA system is fit for purpose.

Members also indicated that the PDA is used as an evidence-gathering tool for the purposes of transfer and promotion and is also used by some as a bullying tool.

63% of assessees viewed the PDA as a punitive tool, compared to 13 per cent of assessors.

64% of assessees saw it as a disciplinary tool, compared to 12 per cent of assessors

54% of assessees believe the PDA is used to set quotas aligned with Victoria Police’s objectives and goals, compared to 29 per cent of assessors.

TPAV Secretary Wayne Gatt said the results of the survey were overwhelmingly critical of how the PDA operates.

"The issue that we’ve got is that members unilaterally are saying the system is not doing the job it is intended to do. When you have a system that 17000 people are participating in and the majority of those people say that it is giving them limited to no value, surely you’ve got to ask yourself is it worth the effort that’s being put into it?" he said.

Those conducting the assessments and those being assessed disagreed over how frequently they meet to discuss performance, with only 61 per cent of respondents reporting that they are meeting with their assessor every six months.

That was in contrast to 84 per cent of assessors surveyed, who indicate that they are meeting with the members they assess every six months.

These discrepancies indicate that PDA meetings are not being conducted as consistently as required, further evidencing the subjective nature of the PDA system.

Not having enough time and assessed group changes were the most widely cited reasons identified by assessors as to why they did not meet with the members they assess at least every six months.

"In an environment where 61 per cent of responders are saying that they are not meeting every six months, that highlights how the system is having little to no value in the context of development," Wayne said.

"This is hundreds of thousands of hours of police time that could be better spent providing a policing service to the community."

He said the fact that time challenges and staffing issues were identified as contributors to the inability to carry out assessments every six months, highlighted the need for minimum staffing standards in all police stations.

"If Victoria Police is going to wed itself to systems that require people to sit down in the same room and have conversations about their development, then they need to resource police stations to make it happen. Clearly these figures say there are not enough people to enable that to occur. This is a tool that works fine in an office environment but is clearly struggling in the context of a policing service and it should be scrapped."

TPAV intends to share the results of this survey with Victoria Police in a bid to seek much-needed reform to the current PDA system.