Petition Hold an Inquiry into the state of the Police Complaints System and role of IOPC
I believe that the current system for investigating police officers is broken and beyond repair.
The system needs to be reviewed and an inquiry into how the system could be amended to ensure that it is fair for all, whilst at the same time being achieved in a timely and expeditious manner.
The system needs overhauled to include
(i) Time limits for investigations and 28 day updates
(ii) Officers served notices ASAP
(iii) Final Reports served on all parties.
(iv) Disclosure processes - regulated
(v). Replace 23(7) process with a structured review process.
(vi) Regulated structure of welfare and support.
This list is not exhaustive
The system can be improved to develop & build trust in this system which currently causes pain, stress and anxiety to those who fall under investigation
This response was given on 12 June 2019
The Government is overhauling the police complaints and discipline systems to ensure that allegations of misconduct are dealt with quickly and effectively for the benefit of the public and the police.
Read the response in full
Police integrity sits at the heart of the British system of policing by consent. Ensuring that the police are held to the highest standards is crucial to public confidence in the police. It is critical that allegations of misconduct are dealt with quickly and effectively, not just for the benefit of the public, but also for officers who have done nothing wrong.
Following extensive reviews of the police complaints and discipline systems, the Government has introduced a number of reforms to date and is committed to completing the delivery of a package of measures designed to overhaul these systems – making them more transparent, efficient and proportionate.
Since 2015, the Government has been implementing a package of reforms set out in the response to the public consultation Improving Police Integrity – a consultation on the proposals resulting from reviews of both the police complaints and discipline systems (the latter conducted by retired Major-General Chapman CB).
These reforms are set out in the Policing and Crime Act 2017 (“the 2017 Act”) and build on Government’s changes in 2015 to make police misconduct hearings fairer and more transparent by requiring them to be held in public with independent legally-qualified chairs. The 2017 Act provides for wide ranging improvements to the system of policing integrity to ensure the discipline and complaints systems are more customer-focused, more efficient and proportionate.
The Government has implemented changes to extend the discipline system to officers who have left the service and introduced the police barred list (both in December 2017) and, in January 2018, implemented reforms to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) – creating the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
Recognising the crucial role of an independent body to investigate the most serious and sensitive allegations made against those serving with the police, the Government provided resources to significantly expand the IPCC – enabling a 6-fold increase in independent investigations. The 2018 changes introduced new governance arrangements that reflect this expansion, creating a single executive head of the organisation (the Director General) to streamline decision-making and improve efficiency. The reformed organisation has focused on improving the timeliness of investigations. The IOPC are now completing around 80% of investigations within 12 months compared with 68% in the previous year. Over a third are completed in six months. These figures are expected to continue to improve with ongoing work to make internal processes more efficient. The IOPC’s 3-year strategic plan includes commitments to improve timeliness, greater transparency and public engagement.
The remaining reforms to the police complaints system, when implemented, will overhaul the complaints system so that the handling of police complaints is more customer-focused and independent through an enhanced role for Police and Crime Commissioners. The IOPC will be given enhanced powers – giving it greater control of the investigations in manages and giving it a power of initiative – allowing it to launch investigations without need to wait for a referral from the police.
Simultaneously, the Government intends to implement a broad package of changes to the police discipline processes that will improve accountability, transparency and efficiency within the system – these include requirements for clearer terms of reference at the outset of investigations and a greater role for Legally Qualified Chairs in helping hearings, including disclosure, run more smoothly. There will also be a requirement for the police and IOPC to provide an explanation where an investigation extends beyond 12 months and to set out next steps. Overall, the package of changes aims to make the system more proportionate – focusing the formal discipline system on serious misconduct and encouraging more performance issues to be dealt with by line managers, with an emphasis on learning and improvement.
The Government takes police wellbeing very seriously, including the well-being of officers under investigation for alleged misconduct. In 2017 the Government awarded £7.5m to the College of Policing to pilot a National Police Welfare Service to help provide enhanced welfare support. Following two years of development and piloting, the new National Police Wellbeing Service was launched in April 2019. It is being run through a Centre of Excellence ‘Oscar Kilo’ which is developing evidence-based guidance, advice, tools and resources which can be accessed by forces, as well as individual officers and staff.
Each Chief Constable has a duty to manage and support their workforce effectively, ensuring the welfare of all officers and staff, and the new service will provide forces with advanced support to help them improve their offer to officers and staff. There will be an emphasis on prevention and helping officers to access support earlier.
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Petitions Committee requests a revised response from the Government
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