A new inquiry into the role and remit of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) launched by parliament’s influential Home Affairs Committee has been welcomed by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW).
The inquiry – which was announced today (28 October) by the Committee’s chair Yvette Cooper MP – will examine how the IOPC operates within the police conduct and discipline system.
Included in this will be questions around how it works with police forces around the country to resolve complaints, and what progress has been made in reforming the system following criticisms of the time taken to deal with cases.
The Committee will also consider what reforms are required to secure public confidence in the police conduct and disciplinary system.
Reacting to the announcement, PFEW’s Conduct and Performance Lead Phill Matthews said: “We welcome any examination of the role and function of the IPOC. We have been deeply worried for some years about the standard and length of time its investigations can take to complete and have been campaigning for a 12-month time limit to be introduced to ensure the distress and anxiety caused to all those involved in the process can be minimised.”
Mr Matthews, who was speaking ahead of the Federation’s Conduct and Performance Liaison Officers’ Seminar which begins tomorrow, continued: “It is only right that the actions of police officers should be scrutinised but the current system is not working as it should and we feel there are significant areas where improvement can be made to make it quicker and more effective.
“We have seen a marked difference since Michael Lockwood took over as IOPC Director General, but one man alone cannot reform a whole organisation.
“I hope this inquiry will shine a light into all corners of the IOPC and its practices so that police officers and the public are able to have the confidence they need in such an important organisation,” concluded Mr Matthews.
Discussing the inquiry Ms Cooper said: “When the Government established the Independent Office of Police Conduct in January 2018 it was with the promise of new powers, greater independence and faster decision-making. These reforms were meant to increase transparency and build trust in the police complaints and disciplinary process.
“Nearly two years on we continue to hear concerns that the system is not working as it should. In this inquiry we expect to look at the IOPC’s powers and effectiveness but, given that most complaints are dealt with by local forces under the scrutiny of Police and Crime Commissioners, we shall also look at whether wider reforms are needed to build a system in which the public can have real confidence,” she concluded.
The terms of reference of the inquiry are as follows:
- The role and remit of the IOPC within the police conduct and discipline system;
- Progress in reforming the complaints system, including speeding up decision making;
- How the IOPC is working with individual forces and policing bodies in order to respond to complaints;
- The need for the IOPC's new powers, and their expected impact; and
- Whether further reforms are required to secure public confidence in the police conduct and discipline system.
Written submissions to the inquiry are to be made to the Committee by midnight on Sunday 8 December 2019.