Theresa May giving evidence at the Home Affairs Select CommitteeHome Affairs Select Committee Member and Houghton and Sunderland South MP, Bridget Phillipson has called on the government to end the complaints roundabout by adopting the recommendations of the Home Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry into the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The Committee found that the police watchdog is woefully underequipped.

The Home Affairs Committee published its report onThe Independent Police Complaints Commissionon Friday 1 February 2013.The Committee found that:

  • The Commission is overloaded with appeal cases;

  • Serious cases involving police corruption or misconduct are left underinvestigated, while the Commission devotes resources to less serious complaints;

  • Public trust continues to be undermined by the IPCC’s dependence on former officers and the investigative resources of police forces; and,

  • In Northumbria and North Wales, the IPCC decided that the police forces had made the wrong initial decision in over half of all cases.

The Committee calls for:

  • A new “complaints competency investigation” when forces continually come to the wrong decision on complaints by the public;

  • More cases should be investigated independently by the Commission, instead of sent back to the original force on a complaints roundabout and forces should be obliged to transfer the resources to help cover the cost of such investigations;

  • IPCC investigators should take immediate control of a potential crime scene during the crucial “golden hours” of an investigation into a death or serious injury involving police officers;

  • The Government should provide a specific budget for an IPCC serious cases response team;

  • The Commission should be given a statutory power to require a force to implement its findings. In the most serious cases, the Commission should instigate a “year on review” to ensure that its recommendations have been properly carried out;

  • The Commission must move to a target of 20% of investigators who have moved directly from a career as a police officer, or fewer;

  • The Commission’s jurisdiction should be extended to cover private sector contractors in their delivery of policing services;

  • Officers should be routinely interviewed under caution in the most serious cases involving the police;

  • The Commission should be renamed to reflect its broader remit and functions, covering appeals and complaints for police, UKBA, HMRC and the NCA; and,

  • Where a threshold of 25% of appeals are upheld, the Commission must demand a written explanation from Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners, which should be followed by a six month probation period.

Committee Member, Bridget Phillipson MP said:

“It’s vital that the public has trust in the police and the complaints procedures. The Committee heard evidence that at times the complaints and appeals process is frustrating, time-consuming and frequently flawed.

“The Committee’s inquiry found that the IPCC is woefully underequipped to supervise the 43 forces of England and Wales, never mind the UKBA, HMRC, NCA and all the private sector agencies involved in policing.

“The Home Secretary must listen to the recommendations of the Committee, take action to end the complaints roundabout and give the Commission the powers and resources it needs to restore public faith in policing”.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird said:

“I welcome the Committee’s report into the work of the IPCC and will carefully study its recommendations in order to see what more we can do in Northumbria to meet the highest standards.”

Further information

To read more about the Committee’s inquiry and to download a copy of their report, click here

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