Derbyshire Police Federation

Federation conduct leads call for better IOPC training

6 August 2020

Better training would improve the time it takes investigators from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to decide whether officers involved in Post-Incident Procedures (PIP) are witnesses or suspects or if the case will be referred to the force or the police watchdog.

This was the message given to Kathie Cashell, the IOPC’s director of strategy and impact, when she took part in a virtual meeting with Federation conduct and performance leads last week.

The IOPC is changing the way it works and was seeking feedback from Federation representatives to help it improve its processes.

The conduct and performance leads reported that at times there seemed to be a ‘lack of empowerment’ and said IOPC investigators were slow in making decisions when involved in PIP.

IOPC director general Michael Lockwood made a commitment to notifying officers of their status as witnesses or suspects within three months during a meeting with the Federation in May when similar concerns were raised.

The reps in last week’s meeting also said better disclosure training was needed since reps often struggle to obtain materials that would be used in officers’ defence. 

Phill Matthews, the Federation’s national conduct and performance lead, said: “We will quite often ask for materials as we further our defence and we get answers either through gritted teeth or literally at the very last minute when our lawyers have to get involved. This is a waste of time, effort and energy when we are trying to prepare for a hearing or meeting.”

But he welcomed the opportunity to work with the IOPC to help it improve its processes.

The Federation stressed the need for better communication from both investigators and the IOPC media office with details given to reps and officers on the status of their case usually being ‘woefully unhelpful’.

Inflammatory language and factual inaccuracies in press releases were also an issue, the reps said, along with not being sighted on appeal decisions before they reached the media.

Tony Wetton, chair of Derbyshire Police Federation, said it was encouraging that the IOPC was keen to involve the Federation in its overhaul.

He said: “Police conduct leads are the ideal people to help shape reform at the IOPC. They are dealing with conduct cases day in, day out and they know where improvements are needed.

“We need to work with the IOPC to ensure we get a complaints system that is fair and proportionate. Improved training for investigators is one element that needs addressing immediately but lines of communication also have to be better. We can’t have officers left in the dark for weeks and weeks, and sometimes, months.”

 

 

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