Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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Recommendations for Met to reinforce changes to working practices within Directorate of Professional Standards

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has made recommendations to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to reinforce ongoing changes to working practices within its Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS).

Our recommendations were made after we investigated allegations of corruption within the DPS, the internal MPS body responsible for investigating complaints against the conduct of its officers. We found no case to answer for misconduct for eight officers and one member of police staff following accusations they used their position to affect ongoing investigations. There was no evidence to suggest that any officer or member of police staff had inappropriately interfered in the decision-making processes, or that decisions were made based on personal relationships. Our findings in relation to the alleged conduct matters were published last October.

Our investigation, which began in November 2017 and concluded in July last year, highlighted confusion and opposing processes for decision maker and management roles combined with a breakdown of communication, which had led to apparent mistrust within the DPS.

We found occasions when there was an appearance that senior officers were interfering in cases, when they were in fact managing the quality or timeliness of the investigation, and in some instances they had been legitimately tasked to conduct a review of an investigation. We further highlighted that officers and staff acting in the appropriate authority (AA) role had the right to disagree with the investigator’s view on whether there was a case to answer and that this was not corruption but a matter of professional disagreement.

Our learning recommendations, which can be found here, were designed to address these systemic and process issues and reinforce work that was already under way within the DPS to tackle some of them.

The MPS had already begun to implement the following changes:

  • Creation of a dedicated ‘Appropriate Authority (AA) Cell’ to assist with addressing issues highlighted in this investigation. The AA Cell has a smaller pool of individuals who complete the role of the AA and the individuals are supported by training and experienced AAs who provide peer support.
  • Introduction of a regular programme of ‘benchmarking’ training. This is to safeguard decisions to ensure they are appropriately discussed and challenged, and to ensure AAs are provided with continuous professional development to support their decision making role. 

The cultural issues we identified have been tackled within the DPS by developing a more open and transparent working environment.

IOPC Director of Major Investigations Steve Noonan said:

“The MPS has already improved some processes in its Department of Professional Standards but there is still work to do as part of their commitment to continuous improvement.

“We found that confusion over working practices had led to mistrust amongst colleagues and this resulted in very serious allegations of corruption being made, which required us to undertake a complex investigation.

“In a system that relies on policing by consent, the public expects the highest possible standards of conduct so the importance of the role of professional standards departments should not be underestimated. It is vital they function and operate in a way that inspires confidence to the public that their complaints will be handled in the right way.”

During our investigation we searched more than 2.8 million items of data in MPS emails and user accounts and reviewed case management system records. 

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