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Norfolk Police Federation

Norfolk Police Federation: The Government must issue new rules on the length of time police officers can be investigated

7 March 2022

The Government must issue new rules on the length of time police officers can be investigated, Norfolk Police Federation has said, after the Home Affairs Select Committee issued a formal report into the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

The report was the outcome of an 18-month long HASC enquiry and examined the role and remit of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in relation to complaints and discipline.

The Committee explored the ‘continuing disquiet at the way in which police forces in England and Wales investigate and deal with complaints’ and concluded: “It is troubling, nine years on from the Committee’s last report on this topic, that concerns are still raised about delays to investigations that detrimentally affect people’s lives, about complexity of language and processes, and about inconsistency in updating and supporting officers and complainants during investigations.”

Andy Symonds, Chair of Norfolk Police Federation, welcomed the report and called for a process that is “fair, proportionate, necessary, efficient and timely”.

He said: "Long delays are not helpful to anyone involved in this be that the officer or the member of the public who may have made a complaint to the IOPC.

“I know we do all we can from a Federation perspective to minimise the delays by making sure officers submit their written accounts as soon as practicably possible or enabling the earliest possible date for interviews. However, we expect the same from the IOPC in the form of disclosure being made in a timely manner with nothing held back so it is an open and transparent process.”

The report recommended that the Government issue stronger guidance on expected length of investigations. But Andy said: “This is a step in the right direction, but I would want this to be stronger than guidance and actually appear in the regulations that govern conduct and complaints. This is the only way that we,  on behalf of the officers we represent, can hold the IOPC truly to account when we see failures.

“We have long been calling for time limits on these unacceptable lengths of investigations and we have seen many cases of abuse of process being won by the Federation due to the officers not being able to achieve a fair hearing due to the long and unjustifiable delays.

“These unacceptable delays cause significant mental injuries to my colleagues who in the vast majority of cases are doing an intensely difficult job in dynamic circumstances to the best of their abilities and when things are dynamic sometimes things don’t quite do to plan.”