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5 February 2021
Independent Office for Police Conduct investigations that drag on for years are costing the taxpayer “astronomical” sums - cash which would be better spent on policing - Norfolk Police Federation has said.
The Police Federation of England and Wales has estimated that an IOPC investigation that lasts up to six months costs £15,101 per officer, which goes up to £302,012 when it continues for five years or more – 20 times the amount.
The costs are even higher for suspended officers, where a six-to-12-month investigation costs approximately £67,968, and after five years it is an eye-watering £453,115 per officer. This is due to forces having to replace officers while they are suspended.
Andy Symonds, Norfolk Police Federation Chair, said: “This astronomical amount of money being wasted could go towards extra police officers, better kit and technology to detect, solve and deter crimes. There are so many areas that this taxpayers money can be spent better protecting officers and our communities.
“It can never be right that we have many officers across the country suspended awaiting for outcomes on the investigations that they are subject of. £13 million spent on the wages of officers who had been suspended between 2013-2018. These are officers who are not working on the frontline supporting colleagues and protecting their communities.”
These lengthy investigations also have a “human toll”, Andy said: “I have represented many officers through these sorts of investigations and the impact they have on an officers’ mental health is stark. These investigations have the threat that an officer can lose their livelihood. This in turn has detrimental impact on the family of the officer in terms of financial worries about the roof over their heads.
“I have seen officers resort to anti-depressant medication from doctors due to the impact on their wellbeing. I’ve referred officers to counselling sessions as they were sliding into depression and having panic attacks due to the he anxieties they face with month after month of no conclusions and no answers.”
The findings have been shared with MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee as part of its inquiry into the IOPC and the time taken to resolve complaints against police officers.
The PFEW continues its Time Limits campaign, which launched in 2019 and pushes for investigations to be concluded within a year, highlighting the impact of long investigations on police officers, their families and colleagues, as well as public trust in policing.