Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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IOPC publishes draft guidance on police processes after a death

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has published draft guidance on how evidence should be collected after a member of the public dies or is seriously injured during contact with the police. The guidance has been submitted to the Home Secretary for his ratification and updates a previous version submitted by the IOPC’s predecessor organisation, the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

If ratified by the Home Secretary, all police forces in England and Wales will be obliged to make use of the guidance in the event of fatalities or serious injuries resulting from road traffic incidents, firearms operations, incidents in custody or other police contact.

The ‘Guidance to the police service on achieving best evidence in death or serious injury matters’ sets out what the police are expected to do following these incidents, to support the subsequent investigation of events. This includes:

  • identifying and preserving all potentially relevant evidence and scenes and bringing them to the investigator’s attention.
  • gathering the names and contact details of all potential non-policing witnesses prior to the arrival or involvement of the IOPC
  • taking concrete measures to prevent police witnesses (eg. the officers at the scene) from conferring about the incident under investigation.

The guidance, which has the support of senior police officers, asserts our preference that key policing witnesses are separated immediately following the incident, to promote public confidence in the process. However, the guidance also allows for robust alternative measures, such as the use of body-worn video, to monitor the post incident processes and prevent any actual or perceived conferring from taking place.

IOPC Director General, Michael Lockwood said:

“When a person dies or is seriously injured after contact with the police, it poses a challenge to public confidence in policing; so it’s vital that investigations into such incidents are transparent and meaningful.

“The public need to know that the police officers involved are providing their witness statements independently of their colleagues. One way to achieve that is to separate officers after an incident has taken place – and that’s our preference. But deaths and serious injuries can sadly occur in many different circumstances and other methods may be equally effective. Over recent years we have seen the widespread take-up of body-worn video in police forces – so our new guidance allows for procedures to be filmed, as one possible alternative to separation.

“The most important thing is that we’re able to gather the evidence we need quickly, while reassuring the public that the process for doing so is transparent and honest.”


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