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Wiltshire Police Federation

Lengthy investigations putting officers under undue stress

25 January 2023

Officers are still being put under unacceptable amounts of stress and pressure due to ineffective and lengthy investigations, Wiltshire Police Federation has said.

Phil Matthews, Federation Chair, said more needs to be done to speed up investigations within the force.

He said: “When officers are investigated, the majority of those investigations are settled at a low level, and a very small percentage make it to hearings and dismissals.

“This means at a local level, our officers are waiting unreasonable amounts of time to find out what is to become of them – which causes incredible stress and pressure. They are often removed from their teams and support networks while investigations are carried out.

“Our Professional Standards Department does not have enough staff and is carrying far too much work. Perhaps this is the place to focus and get our own house in order?”

Phil was speaking after Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson called on the Home Secretary to improve the way police are held to account.

He said the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) takes too long to investigate misconduct.

Mr Wilkinson told the BBC this week: “I have no confidence that they are doing it to the standard that the residents of this country would expect them to do.”

But Phil Matthews said: “There are investigations that the IOPC take on that are incredibly complex and some do take an awful long time. The Federation, at a national level, is asking that the IOPC are held to account for investigation that go on over a year.

“I wonder if the PCC would like to look a little closer to home as well as hold the IOPC to account.

“Within our own Professional Standards Department we have complaints that have gone on well over a year. Some of these have no complexity whatsoever, with only serving police officers as witnesses to the conduct issue.

“In my own dealings with the IOPC I can attest that the majority of their complaints are resolved within 12 months.”