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Sussex Police Federation

Lengthy IOPC investigations costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands per year

4 February 2021

Independent Office for Police Conduct investigations that drag on for years are costly not just for the taxpayer, but also the police officers involved, Sussex Police Federation has said.

“The cost of these lengthy investigations can be significant and damaging to our members’ mental health and wellbeing particularly when they extend beyond 12 months”, said Simon Steele, Federation Chair.

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

Simon said: “The Federation have been arguing for too long that some IOPC investigations are taking far too long. The cost of these lengthy investigations can be significant and damaging to our members’ mental health and wellbeing particularly when they extend beyond 12 months.

“Not only do these investigations impact on our members and their families but complainants are also being forced to wait unnecessarily for their complaints to be resolved. This can be damaging to the whole process and results in a lack of confidence in the independent investigative process.

“I would like to see the IOPC make a concerted effort to reduce the length of their investigations by cutting the bureaucracy that currently exists. They need to show greater urgency in progressing their investigations diligently and expeditiously and it is only when we start seeing genuine progress in this area that our members can start to have any confidence in this process.”

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.