More training must be given to investigators at the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC), the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) says.
The Home Secretary continues to scrutinise the watchdog, which we are encouraged by, and today (February 28) published the IOPC’s plans to improve public and police confidence in its work.
In October, Priti Patel wrote to IOPC Director General Michael Lockwood asking him to provide a comprehensive plan for delivering improvements in the timeliness and quality of investigations as well as better scrutiny around any decision making.
Mr Lockwood said it “recognises some of its investigations have taken too long” and is “addressing this”.
Responding to the report, PFEW Conduct and Performance Lead Phill Matthews, said: “We are pleased to see the Home Secretary shining the spotlight on the IOPC and will continue to do so after years of issues which have impacted our colleagues.
“Whilst it is promising to see improvements in the timeliness of its investigations and its plans for greater quality control – it must be said there is still more work to be done.
“Through our Time Limits campaign we will keep on pushing for all investigations, not just IOPC directed, to be completed within a 12-month time frame. Lengthy investigations ruin lives so there must be measures in place to stop them from rumbling on unabated for years.
“There must also be a focus on training its investigators – particularly around disclosure – and for all outstanding legacy cases to be urgently reviewed to ascertain whether they can be closed off sooner rather than later.”
He continued: “The Federation looks forward to maintaining a relationship with Mr Lockwood and his team to ensure the best outcomes for our members in the future.”
Proposed action detailed within the report includes:
- A new streamlined investigation process for lower-risk cases, which has helped to reduce the average time it takes to complete investigations.
- Engaging extensively with the Federation and other staff associations, to develop a respectful relationship and greater co-operation to action any concerns.
- A multi-disciplinary Critical Case Panel, chaired by the Director General, which now oversees particularly complex or high-risk cases to ensure cross-organisational support and assurance that work is properly resourced.
- New opportunities for users to feedback and challenge the IOPC’s work, including the introduction of restorative practice debriefs, which will allow users to discuss any concerns directly with IOPC staff.
- An External Stakeholder Reference Group consisting of a range of statutory and non-statutory external stakeholders, to challenge and influence work.
The Home Secretary, who has requested a further update from the Director General in May, said: “The vast majority of police perform their duties with the utmost professionalism - and I have been clear they have my full support.
“The progress made by the IOPC on the effectiveness and timeliness of investigations is positive for both officers and the public, but clearly further improvement is required, and I will continue to scrutinise the IOPC’s performance.”
Mr Lockwood said: “This report highlights the significant progress the IOPC is making in our work as we continue to strengthen our impact and make a real difference to policing, operationally, organisationally and culturally.
“Our plans are ambitious, and we are determined to bring about continued further improvements in our own work and across broader policing practice.”