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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

Report on IOPC tells them to focus on concluding investigations into officers as quickly as possible

1 March 2022

“The IOPC has overly burdened management structures, no knowledge of policing, criminal law or police processes and lacks transparency”

This was Avon and Somerset Police Federation Chair Mark Loker’s reaction to a new Home Affairs Select Committee report that said that the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) needed to focus its efforts on concluding investigations into police officers as quickly as possible.

The report said that the IOPC had made “significant advances” in speeding up the process for dealing with officer complaints and that most were now resolved within 12 months.

But Mark said: “If I made a complaint about an organisation, would I be satisfied if it took a year to investigate? Even six months is too long in most cases.”

The Government might intervene in the future to make sure investigations are timely, said the report: “The Government should consider whether stronger guidance on the expected length of inquiries may be required.”

The report also reported concerns about “the strength of [the IOPC’s] investigations, the qualifications of its investigators and the transparency of its operations”.

But it also appeared to blame police officers for some of the delays into investigations, saying that there needed to be a “change of culture” in police forces to ensure officers cooperated with investigations.

Mark said: “Investigations into officers have a devastating effect on them and on their families, it breaks people, and it is essential that they be dealt with quickly and fairly to identify officers whose behaviour requires improvement or dismissal and to lift the cloud of suspicion from those who have acted properly.

“I can assure our communities that our officers recognise this and do not block the progress of investigations. The difficulty comes in the lack of trust and respect for the IOPC due to their diminished credibility, their lack of understanding of criminal investigation and criminal law and the amount of time it takes for them to investigate complaints.”

The focus of the Home Office report was all wrong, Mark said: “Do not subvert the real reason for the total lack of effectiveness of the IOPC by blaming lack of police cooperation, but look to hold the IOPC to account.

“We need a transparent, independent review of their practices, effectiveness and efficiency. After all, they are a Governmental organisation that seems to operate with impunity and a complete lack of accountability. Our public and our officers deserve better.”