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GMP Federation

Chair: “The Home Secretary must do more to reform the IOPC into an effective investigative body with expeditious, streamlined and accurate processes”

12 September 2019

“The Home Secretary must do more to reform the IOPC into an effective investigative body with expeditious, streamlined and accurate processes”

The Independent Office for Police Conduct could see deadlines imposed on their investigations into police officers, the Home Secretary has said.

Priti Patel, in her first major address to the service as Home Secretary, spoke about the “injustice” of lengthy investigations into the country’s cops, leaving them in limbo. She called for better, swifter processes to protect officers and the public.

She told the Superintendents' Association Annual Conference: “We cannot have investigations that just go on and on and on. We need streamlined processes. We need more efficiency. We need more effectiveness. We need more accountability. But ultimately we need swift outcomes. We cannot have officers left in limbo.

“We cannot have officers having their professional careers basically suspended while investigations and enquiries take place. That does a huge disservice and an injustice to everyone in policing, I think. To the officers in particular.”

Stu Berry, Chairman of Greater Manchester Police Federation, said: “It is encouraging to receive support from the new Home Secretary following a decade of damaging cuts to Policing.

"The era of significant austerity is hopefully coming to an end, but we are left with a legacy of high levels of sickness and stress within the Police Service due to increasing demand and reduced capacity to resource it.

“IOPC investigations continue to contribute to this issue as the careers and personal lives of our members are considerably damaged due to lengthy investigations that are simply unacceptable. The Police Service and our members are quite rightly under scrutiny from the public and that, in turn, should be no different for the IOPC.

"Their decisions and actions are accountable to the public purse, and as such I would welcome the implementation of a framework that reflects this premise."

Stu added: “The Home Secretary must do more to reform the IOPC into an effective investigative body with expeditious, streamlined and accurate processes. This will not be achieved with further investment but a change of ideology within that organisation.

“The threshold for their investigations is often far too low and, in my view, this leads to an administration which focuses on the quantity of those investigations rather than the quality.

"Many of our members are needlessly subjected to an IOPC investigation; an experience which diminishes the confidence of those officers and contributes to a detrimental consequence to future policing.”

He added: “All too often we find ourselves in a situation where the investigators possess an inadequate knowledge of the Office of Constable, general policing, policing tactics, investigative experience and involvement with immediate threat, harm and risk.

“That will never be achieved from within a book or the attendance at a training course.

“As the North West representative within the Police Federation Parliamentary Sub-Committee, I look forward to influencing change at the appropriate level.”

Ms Patel said while investigations needed to be looked at on a case-by-case basis, and that there was a lot of information and evidence to be gathered, “police officers have a deadline effectively put on them to get their jobs done. We must have exactly the same approach when it comes to the IOPC.”

She added: “Too many cases have been going on for too long, and a lot of them are historic as well which takes even longer in terms of getting evidence and information. So this is a process that absolutely has to be looked at.”

She said more needs to be done to support officers through these “really torrid experiences”.

Ms Patel has been working with IOPC Director General Michael Lockwood on the issue, after police representatives complained of the undue stress caused by lengthy investigations on officers and their families.

The Police Federation of England and Wales has called for time limits on IOPC investigations.

Det Supt Paul Fotheringham told the minister at the conference in Stratford-upon-Avon: “We fully understand the need for independent oversight of police officers, but we’re consistently seeing cases investigated by the IOPC that are taking a considerable amount of time; some years. Officers and their families’ lives are wrecked while their careers are put on hold, and this has a significant impact on them.”

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