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Norfolk Police Federation

Misconduct Investigations Need Time Limits, Says Federation Chairman

9 December 2019


Misconduct investigations should have time limits, to reduce the ‘mental and physical toll’ they can place on officers and their families.

Norfolk Police Federation is echoing calls from the PFEW for IOPC investigations to be concluded in a reasonable amount of time, as some cases can take years to be resolved.

One high-profile case took nearly 11 years to exonerate the officers involved.

Federation Chairman Andy Symonds says a year should be enough for IOPC investigators to conclude low-level cases.

“A time limit is massively needed,” he said.

“I see officers that I represent on the end of long investigations, not necessarily just IOPC investigations but also PSD investigations.

“It takes its toll mentally and physically and on officers’ families. I’ve been around supporting officers at their home address, visiting them, seeing how they are, and you can see the clear impact on loved ones as well when they’re going through a stressful investigation.

“We can turn around a serious investigation within months and sometimes within weeks; and murder cases where we charge people within weeks and sometimes hours, so why can it take years to investigate police officers for what are generally very low-level complaints?

“There do need to be investigations and I think 12 months is fair.”

Andy also wants to see more independent scrutiny of the police watchdog and for an investigation chair to be in place much earlier in the process to asses whether delays are justified.

“We [should] appoint a ‘legally qualified chair’ at an earlier point to assess whether those delays are fair, on the complainant or the police officer or the force,” he said.

“Get somebody independent, who’s qualified to assess the evidence that’s in front of them to say: ‘Yes you can go beyond 12 months’, or ‘No, it’s now unfair and is an abuse of process.’

“A lot of times we represent officers through these long processes and we present an abuse-of-process argument at the hearing, a gross misconduct hearing or whatever it might be, and generally – pretty much without fail – two or three years later the legally qualified chair accepts that it’s an abuse of process,” he said.

“So why not put that in earlier at 12 months for someone independent to assess it? It’s massively needed, and I fully support it.”