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Special Interest Group (SIG) Operating Practices

The establishment of Special Interest Groups by Member Networks has been approved by the Board of Trustees according to the rules of the society.

Each Special Interest Group, also known as a faculty or divisional branch, is required to operate within this guidance which was approved by the Board of Trustees in January 2024.

The operating practices are set out below. They should be read in conjunction with the Member Networks Operations Manual which provides guidance on best practice and operational processes.

1. Legal status

1.1. These Operating Practices are subject to the Royal Charter, Statutes and Rules of the British Psychological Society and should be read in conjunction with the policies and procedures of the society.

1.2. Proposed alterations to these Operating Practices must first be approved by the Board of Trustees or its delegated body. Any SIG wishing to suggest changes should contact the Legal and Governance Team who will co-ordinate any requests. Any agreed changes will apply to all SIGs.

1.3. The SIG is not a legal entity and accordingly is not able to enter into contracts, employ staff or own property. The SIG does not have authority to enter into any legal obligations on behalf of the society or to commit the society to expenditure without authorisation from the Board of Trustees or its delegated body.

1.4. The SIG and its members should be constantly aware that any views expressed may be interpreted as the official position of the British Psychological Society and could, in some circumstances, cause reputational harm. They should be cautious about making statements or issuing publications which may be interpreted in this way and should seek advice from the society if they are in any doubt, before doing so. They should also ensure that the content of events is carefully considered so as not to cause offence or appear to contradict the publicly stated policy of the society.

1.5. The society may request that the SIG or its members make public statements or issue publications on particular issues, according to their expertise and specialism.

2. Purpose and Membership

2.1. The purpose of Member Networks is to connect members around areas of psychological practice, research, and interest, and geographical regions, in order to: provide community; advance psychological knowledge and practice; support professional development; promote psychological education; and raise the profile and impact of psychology and psychologists, including their contribution to wider

2.2. The aims, responsibilities and objectives of each SIG will be clearly defined by the establishing network.

2.3. The committee of the establishing network will retain ultimate accountability for the activities and expenditure of the SIG which will be reported annually as part of their annual report.

2.4. Membership of the SIG is open to members of the society who meet any criteria for membership published on the membership area of the society website.

2.5. The establishing network will set joining fees for the SIG at a level that cover the cost of the services that the SIG will provide and will review these each year. Fees will be agreed by the Board of Trustees.

2.6. For SIGs which do not charge fees, an allocation of funds will be made from the divisional subscription each year to fund their activities. This will be reviewed on an annual basis.

3. Operating the Special Interest Group

3.1. The governance, committees and operating practices of the SIG will be proportionate to its size, aims, activity plan and income and will be agreed by the establishing network. Depending on the aims of the SIG, the use of technology may allow it to achieve these and the creation of a formal committee may not be necessary.
If a committee is required:

3.2. The size will be determined by the establishing network and all members will be appointed using a process which adopts principles of equality, diversity and inclusion and is fair and defendable if challenged.

3.3. The committee will have a minimum of four members, including a Chair. It is recommended that the committee will also have a Deputy Chair or Co-Chair. The committee will be accountable to the establishing network for its activities.

3.4. All committee appointments will be confirmed to the members of the SIG.

3.5. The Chair and Deputy Chair or Co-Chair will be the society's contact persons within the SIG. The Chair will ensure that contact details provided to the society are up to date.

3.6. The committee will meet as often as necessary to ensure that the SIG is meeting its aims. If a member of the committee misses three consecutive meetings, the Chair will confirm if the member has any issues in continuing in the role and may ask them to resign, so that other members have the opportunity to fulfil the role.

3.7. No business will be transacted at any meeting unless there is a quorum of three committee members, including either the Chair, Co-Chair or Deputy Chair.

3.8.The Chair will ensure that, where appropriate, a clear decision in reached through the building of consensus or the taking of a vote. In the event of a tie, the chair will have a second or casting vote.

3.9. The terms of office for members of the committee will be up to three years and will be determined by the members of the committee or the establishing network.

3.10. The establishing network will ensure that no individual serves for more than six consecutive years on the committee, after which they must take a break from office for one year.

3.11. The committee may invite non-members of the network to attend committee meetings for a particular purpose. The Chair of the meeting will decide what (if any) information about the committee will be provided to invitees. Invitees may not vote at committee meetings.

3.12. Members of the SIG can raise an item for discussion or decision by the committee by contacting the Chair of the SIG, or Co-Chair if appropriate, at least seven working days before the meeting.

3.13. The decisions and actions from committee meetings will be made available to SIG members.

3.14. If the number of members of the SIG committee falls below four, the continuing members may only act within their previously agreed activity plans until the minimum number of committee members is met.

4. Annual reporting

4.1. At the end of each year the SIG will develop a report reviewing the activities undertaken on behalf of its members and associated expenditure against its activity plan. This will be included in the annual report of the establishing network and form part of the Trustees Annual Report and Accounts prepared for the Annual General Meeting of the society.

4.2. The report will be accessible to members of the SIG and the establishing network.

5. Issue resolution

5.1. From time to time, issues may arise between members of the committee, members of the SIG and its committee or other individuals. All interactions should be respectful and in line with the Code of conduct for members undertaking activities on behalf of the society (CCMUA). Where issues arise an informal resolution should be sought where appropriate and the Chair of the committee of the establishing network should be informed of the issue.

5.2. If informal resolution is unsuccessful, the CCMUA suggests they may raise the issue with the Chair of the SIG (or another committee member if the Chair is involved) who will arrange a meeting with relevant parties to try to resolve the issue.

5.3. If resolution fails, in exceptional circumstances, any member of the committee may be removed from the role by a vote in favour by at least two-thirds of the other members of the committee. Any member of the committee threatened with removal will have the right to circulate written representations and/or address a meeting of the committee, prior to a vote being held.

5.4. Concerns from members of the SIG which have not been resolved, should be raised in writing with the Chair of the committee of the establishing network and the Head of Legal and Governance, supported by not less than one percent or 20 members of the network, whichever is lower.

5.5. Depending on the issue, committee members may also wish to raise a concern under the society's Member Conduct Rules. In such cases, Trustees may request that a member stands aside from their role during investigation, as set out in the CCMUA.

6. Sub-Committees

6.1. The SIG may bring together groups to progress work or discussion, such as task and finish groups, working groups, or committees to organise events. It is the responsibility of the committee to ensure such groups have clear terms of reference objectives and will be time-limited and self-supporting.

7. Support for Special Interest Groups

7.1. SIGs can access specialist support and advice from various teams within the British Psychological Society, including committee and appointment support, communications, policy advice, advocacy, EDI, governance and issue resolution. There may be times when requests will be prioritised to ensure an equitable balance of services across all networks. In this case, priority will be given to Branches, Sections, Divisions and Special Groups.

7.2. For SIGs which generate income, an annual services charge will be levied by the society as a contribution towards its costs and will be reviewed annually