The Role and Powers of the Investigating Committee
The Investigating Committee is bound to consider all cases referred to it and assess whether any allegation should be considered by the Fitness to Practise Committee. It operates as a screening committee, meeting in private. It does not hear oral evidence and it has the power to direct that further investigation be carried out. It may seek legal, clinical or other specialist advice and may adjourn for further consideration of the allegation until such time as the relevant additional information is available to it.
On concluding its investigation the Investigating Committee may:
• Issue a warning to the registrant (pharmacists/technician) concerned;
• Issue advice to the registrant concerned;
• Issue advice to any other person or body involved in its investigation;
• Dismiss the case;
• In relation to a health allegation, require the registrant to undergo a medical examination;
• Agree undertakings;
• Refer the matter to the Fitness to Practise Committee;
• Initiate criminal proceedings.
Where a fitness to practise allegation or a disqualification allegation has been referred to the Investigating Committee the person concerned must receive the following:
• A Notice of Referral to the Investigating Committee;
• Copies of all documents and relevant information which will be placed before the Investigating Committee;
• A copy of the Threshold Criteria.
The Referral Notice must:
• Particularise the allegation;
• Set out any recommendations for disposal of the case made by the Registrar;
• Specify a date for the Investigating Committee meeting where they will consider the allegation which must be no less than 28 days after the date of service of the notice of referral;
• Outline the Investigating Committee’s powers;
• Request the registrant to indicate whether the particulars of the allegation are denied or admitted not later than 21 days after the date of service of the notice;
• Invite the registrant to make written representations no later than 21 days after the date of service of the notice;
• Advise the registrant that written representations may be shown to the informant, if any, for his comment;
• Advise the registrant that the Investigating Committee may seek further information from any source, including from the registrant’s employer for the purposes of investigation.
On completion of the investigation by the Investigating Committee, the registrant must be notified of the Committee’s decision no later than 10 days after the date on which the decision is made. The notice must outline the reasons for the decision and be accompanied by any legal advice considered by the Investigating Committee.
Where the Investigating Committee has considered a fitness to practise or a disqualification allegation and decided not to refer it to the Committee; it may have regard to the original allegation if within five years from the date of service of the notice the Council receives a new allegation about the person concerned. It may then refer both the original allegation and the new allegation to the Committee. Further, where the Investigating Committee has disposed of a fitness to practise or disqualification allegation, and within five years of that decision receives new evidence/information which makes the reconsideration of that decision either necessary for the protection of the public, for the prevention of injustice, or otherwise necessary in the public interest, it may reconsider the allegation.
The Investigating Committee may also reconsider an allegation where it receives information that the Council has erred in its administrative handling of the case and it is satisfied that it is necessary in the public interest to do so.