26 January 2021
Federation Chair: Lengthy IOPC investigations, dragged out over years, into innocent officers can ruin their lives
Lengthy and drawn-out investigations by the Independent Office for Police Conduct into the actions of innocent police officers – which can last years - can ruin their lives.
That is view of Leicestershire Police Federation – the body representing officers in the county – which said that while police officers have no issue with being accountable for their actions, they should not be subject to that scrutiny for years on end.
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.
Adam Commons, Chairman and Conduct Lead for Leicestershire Police Federation, said: “We have been campaigning for some time to bring Time Limits to lengthy investigations and asking that they cannot go past 12 months.
“We have seen many cases where IOPC investigations have run into years, and the impact this has on officers and their families cannot be measured. Quite frankly it can ruin lives.”
The IOPC’s figures from 2019/20 show that cases open for longer than 12 months had decreased from 24% to 17%, but Adam said officers still needed protection.
He said: “The 12-month suggestion would complement the 2020 Conduct Regulations, as any case that currently reaches this threshold has to be referred to the Police and Crime Commissioner with an explanation as to why.
“I look forward to hearing the evidence that is put forward in the hope it can help further the #TimeLimits campaign and ultimately give some protection to my colleagues.”
The Police Federation of England and Wales is calling for investigations to be concluded within 12 months from the time an allegation is made.
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.”