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Hertfordshire Police Federation

PCCs talk of impact of lengthy conduct inquiries

19 March 2021

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) have given evidence to MPs about the “devastating impact” of lengthy conduct investigations on officers echoing a long-running Federation campaign.

Hertfordshire Police Federation chair Geoff Bardell welcomed the testimony of the PCCs to a Commons Committee saying it underlined the importance of the Time Limits campaign.

Geoff said: “We know professional standards have to continue to be maintained and improved, but there’s a human cost. We’ve seen the devastating impact that lengthy conduct investigations can have on officers and their families, and their health and wellbeing.

“They’re forced to put their lives on hold while the Sword of Damocles is hanging over them for what could be years.

“Our Time Limits campaign called for an IOPC investigation to be restricted to 12 months, and it’s pleasing to hear PCCs echoing our call.

“There’s no reason why IOPC investigations should take as long as they do, and we’ll continue to push for that with our campaign.”

The Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the role and remit of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) heard evidence from three PCCs and two academics about how police conduct complaints are handled.

North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan was among the PCCs to give evidence.

She said: “The timeliness issue was causing all sorts of issues for individual officers. In fact, the impact of it was much wider, in terms of views of lack of competency on the part of the IOPC and lack of fairness to officers.”

Sue Mountstevens, Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset, acknowledged that progress had been made at the IOPC especially in restricting the time limit to 12 months before an explanation has to be given to the PCCs, but also mentioned that greater accountability was necessary, adding: “I wonder where the accountability is to the IOPC if they go longer than 12 months.”

Alun Michael, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, said: “We ought to look at the acceptable length of time being reduced from 12 months to something much shorter than that.”

Phill Matthews, the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) national conduct and performance lead, gave evidence to the committee in late January and described the deep and damaging effects long-term investigations can have.

After this latest evidence from the PCCs, he said: “It is really positive that all seem to agree that 12 months for an investigation is more than adequate and that PCCs would like that to see that reduced and have more ability to hold the IOPC to account for the time investigations take. PFEW will continue to campaign relentlessly to ensure fairness for our members.”

 

 

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