Cumbria Police Federation

Federation Chair on the staggering costs of IOPC investigations

3 February 2021

Independent Office for Police Conduct investigations that drag on for years are costing the taxpayer “huge” sums of money and taking frontline officers off the streets, Cumbria Police Federation has said.

The Police Federation of England and Wales has estimated that an IOPC investigation that lasts up to six months costs £15,101 per officer, which goes up to £302,012 when it continues for five years or more – 20 times the amount.

The costs are even higher for suspended officers, where a six-to-12-month investigation costs approximately £67,968, and after five years it is an eye-watering £453,115 per officer. This is due to forces having to replace officers while they are suspended.

Paul Williams, Chair of Cumbria Police Federation, said: “We have evidence of investigations of officers taking not only months, but years, and the effects are serious and numerous. If an officer is suspended this is of serious detriment to the tax payer and the officer along with their family.

"The investigations can be of very poor quality with important evidence overlooked in many cases causing serious detriment.

“The stress this causes to officers and their families cannot be underestimated and very damaging to their mental health. Some never recover despite being exonerated and that is purely down to serious investigative flaws. It is unacceptable and must stop.

"This also affects the public as the resilience is reduced. The public are paying good money for policing and should not see this thrown away with officers sat in limbo unable to work while time is taken to investigate them.”

Paul added: “The numbers speak volumes. Huge amounts of money is spent on legal fees and proceedings some of which are unnecessary. The Police Federation funds legal fees and expert witnesses for those officers and the money spent is astronomical but necessary.

"I have in the past dealt with a case directed by the IOPC which went to crown court as a criminal trial. The officer was completely exonerated of all criminal and misconduct charges however the work that went into this was of huge financial cost to the Federation and its members and also mentally distressing for the officer who did nothing wrong.

“I personally had to highlight flaws in the investigation that undermined the whole case and should have been presented at the beginning. This cannot be allowed to continue, lives and livelihoods are being put under extreme stress and in some case permanently affected.”

The findings have been shared with MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee as part of its inquiry into the IOPC and the time taken to resolve complaints against police officers.

The PFEW continues its Time Limits campaign, which launched in 2019 and pushes for investigations to be concluded within a year, highlighting the impact of long investigations on police officers, their families and colleagues, as well as public trust in policing.