Derbyshire Police Federation

Fed to tell how lengthy complaint system is costly at HASC inquiry

22 January 2021

The national Federation is set to give evidence at a Government inquiry next week and will outline the costly impact the current police complaint system can have on officers.

On Wednesday (27 January), the Police Federation of England and Wales will address the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) as part of its inquiry into the remit of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

In giving evidence to HASC, the Federation will be highlighting the detrimental and costly impact of lengthy disciplinary investigations on police officers, their families and their colleagues as part of its Time Limits campaign.

Commenting on the inquiry, Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton said: “We’ve seen lengthy disciplinary investigations take their toll on multiple colleagues both historically and currently, sometimes destroying the careers of so many valuable officers and all too often with the officer being found to have done no wrong.

“The impact this has on their mental health doesn’t just affect them, it can impact their family too.”

The Federation’s Time Limits Campaign, launched in 2019, urgently calls for investigations to be concluded within 12 months from the time an allegation is made.

The Federation is additionally calling for: 

  • Improved IOPC investigator training, particularly in relation to post-incident procedures and disclosure 
  • A move towards a system where breaching the time limit has consequences on the ability to proceed.

The Federation has already shared case studies with MPs, including a personal testimony from West Midlands PC Richard Allen-Zoarder who feels his mental health and enthusiasm for policing has been destroyed after he was subjected to conduct proceedings that he describes as a ‘massive witch hunt’.

“Cases like these are not isolated,” added Tony, “The issues surrounding investigations taking a long time is not a fresh concern and something needs to change; not just for the sake of the officer but for the complainant too, they expect their complaint to be dealt with quickly.”

The Federation’s national conduct and performance lead, Phill Matthews, has welcomed the opportunity to give evidence to HASC.

“Protracted disciplinary investigations have ruined the careers of multiple colleagues, left a mark on their mental health and placed pressure on their home lives and loved ones. It is clear the effects are devastating,” he explained.

“Public trust in the system will erode if people do not think their complaints will be dealt with quickly. This issue is already something many complainants frequently express.

“We are encouraged the IOPC is keen to work with us rather than against us. However, the issue of investigations rumbling on for more than a year still continues, and enough is enough,” he concluded.

 

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