90 days from today is Thu, 28 December 2023
26 January 2021
The Independent Office for Police Conduct – the body in charge of investigating the actions of police officers – is currently a “state-sanctioned risk to the welfare of police officers and their families”.
That’s the view of Greater Manchester Police Federation, which has witnessed the thousands of police officers it represents be subject to incredibly damaging IOPC probes – some that have dragged on for five years or more.
Chairman Stu Berry said that while police officers have no objection at being held accountable for their actions, the IOPC and its investigators spend far too long srutinising their work in what at times can feel like a “rampant and unchecked misuse of power”.
Stu said that the IOPC’s investigations had led to “a shocking situation for policing”, giving examples of two Greater Manchester Police officers who were going through extremely long investigations.
He said: “I need to highlight the situation of two officers we are currently representing within Greater Manchester Police Federation, who have 23 and 13 years of service. The first has been subject to investigation for over a quarter of their police service and the second nearly half of their police service, as a consequence of their individual IOPC cases.
“That is not a misprint. Please take a few seconds to attempt to absorb that absurd and indefensible waste of public funds.
“It is an indictment within a country purporting to be a leading light of fairness and justice, within a population policed by consent.
“The IOPC is a state-sanctioned risk to the welfare of police officers and their families in its current form, despite the new name. It was previously the Independent Police Complaints Commission and nothing has altered. This rampant and unchecked misuse of power must change. It has to change.”
The Home Affairs Select Committee is currently looking into the IOPC’s timescales for investigating police officer conduct.
As part of the Police Federation of England and Wales’s #TimeLimits campaign, the Federation will be giving evidence to Parliament tomorrow (Wednesday) on the detrimental and costly impact of lengthy disciplinary investigations on police officers, their families and their colleagues.
PFEW’s Time Limits campaign has pushed for investigations into police officers to be capped at 12 months. The IOPC’s figures from 2019/20 show that cases open for longer than 12 months had decreased from 24 per cent to 17 per cent.
Stu said the Government’s intervention was just what was needed: “My hope does not sit with IOPC leaders, as that has proved fruitless. The restoration of some measure of credibility now sits with the Government and those with the power to make a change for police officers and the service we provide to the public.
“My support, and I am sure, the support of every police officer throughout England and Wales, goes to our PFEW colleagues who will give evidence at the Home Affairs Select Committee on our behalf.”
PFEW National Conduct and Performance Lead Phill Matthews said: “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.
“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.”