Police Federation

Home Secretary quizzed over mental health-damaging disciplinary investigations

9 June 2021

Ian Collins, National Chair John Apter and Home Secretary Priti Patel

Ian Collins, National Chair John Apter and Home Secretary Priti Patel

During a live Q&A session at our virtual Annual Conference today (9 June), Priti Patel was questioned by members on a range of issues including the Government failing to prioritise officers during the vaccine rollout, ensuring the service attracts recruits with more life experience and the length of some IOPC investigations.

Metropolitan Police Federation rep Keith Malda, who supported five officers through a 10-and-a-half-year disciplinary investigation following the death of Sean Rigg in 2008, asked:
“The pressure of being under investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for a protracted period is immeasurable. We are talking about my friends and my colleagues, and their families, suffering from PTSD, suffering from a whole range of mental ill health issues. At the worst we are talking about funerals.

“What assurances can you give to my friends and colleagues and their families that you, as our Home Secretary, will do something about protracted disciplinary investigations?”

The Home Secretary responded: “We meet and work with the IOPC and I would like to be reflective of them. Through the police family we have made great strides in the way investigations are undertaken.

“Ten years is absolutely ludicrous and not right. We cannot put the careers and livelihood of officers at risk.

“The IOPC is much more empathetic now and has improved its way of working. Having end to end investigations with officers in no man’s land is unacceptable.

“It has changed its practice, but if it needs to do more, I will absolutely challenge it. It has been listening to what we have said.”

The Federation is lobbying the Government to introduce a one-year time limit on police disciplinary investigations from the day an allegation is made and is pressing for the quality of these investigations to improve.

Sussex PC Andy Newman asked the Home Secretary via video how the service can better accommodate those joining later in life?

The senior cabinet minister replied: “Officers are getting younger - there’s no doubt about that - but we need officers with the skills and life experience which help them form judgements out on the beat. I feel strongly about retention of officers and we want to preserve their experience.

“I want to encourage more people to come into policing later in life. As crime changes, the skills from officers need to also adapt. There is more we can do to encourage that.”

Rhana Dhillon, Metropolitan Police Federation rep, also asked via video what the Government is doing to ensure the police service and PFEW represents, reflects and looks like the diverse multi-national society we police.

The Home Secretary said: “I have absolutely prioritised this. The 20,000-uplift programme must reflect the society and country we live in. Really great work has taken place and I pay tribute to forces who are prioritising diversity. My understanding is we have over 10,000 officers, as of the end of April this year, who are from diverse communities and it’s going up and up - but there is always more we can do.”

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