Monthly roundup – October 2019
27 Nov 2019 12:22 PM
Welcome to our monthly roundup, with updates about our work, performance, and organisational changes.
Introduction from Paulette Johnson-Clarke, Policy and Engagement Officer
Before joining the IOPC, I worked at the Department of Health for over 18 years. I focused primarily on policy and performance management of the NHS against key performance targets, and led on non-elective care.
I am passionate about public services, the quality of service provision and the need to continually improve and keep pace with the changing needs of society. Working in policy gives me the opportunity to identify the gaps and join the dots, using our evidence and the evidence of others to inform and influence discussions around policing practice.
My role at the IOPC has a particular focus on improving public confidence; particularly among those who we know have the least confidence in policing and the police complaints system. I am keen to help our organisation make a difference, to provide a different perspective and to influence change.
This summer, I worked on the publication of our first annual impact report. The report shows the difference we are making through all our work, including investigations. It’s an important part of ensuring accountability and demonstrating how we improve policing practice. There is still much more to do, but I am committed to helping shape our work by providing diversity of thought.
I hope you enjoy this month’s Roundup.
Guidance has been updated in England and Wales to help police officers use tactical contact more safely during moped pursuits following learning from five investigations involving tactical contact with two-wheeled vehicles.
Sent to all chief constables in England and Wales by the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s (NPCC) Lead for Police Pursuits, the new guidance, developed with the NPCC and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) helps officers weigh up the risks in fast-moving situations so that they can carry out stops effectively, and at the same time offers reassurance to the public that the tactic is used as safely and proportionately as possible.
Our Operation Kentia investigation of applications for search warrants made by Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officers as part of Operation Midland identified shortcomings and organisational failings. Operation Midland was the MPS investigation into allegations made by Carl Beech that high-profile individuals had been involved in the sexual abuse and deaths of boys in the 1970s and 1980s.
Our investigation focused on the decision to apply for search warrants relating to properties linked to Lord Brittan, Mr Proctor and Lord Bramall, and on the accuracy of the information provided to the court in February 2015. Our investigation found no evidence that any of the officers deliberately withheld evidence from the applications with the intention of misleading the district judge. However, it revealed gaps and shortcomings where there is room for improvement to reduce the risk of future failings. We made 16 recommendations to change policing practice.
Helping improve policing practice
The complaints and investigations we work on provide useful insights and learning that can inform policy, practice and processes. This is important in helping to reduce the risk of events recurring, in protecting people from harm or in better supporting police in their work at a local or national level. Some examples of learning from our work this month include:
Investigations following deaths/serious injuries
We launched an investigation following a vehicle pursuit carried out by Durham Constabulary. The driver of the pursued car suffered fatal injuries. We have gathered a range of information, including footage of the incident and initial accounts from some of those involved. We also issued a media release appealing for witnesses following a fatal collision in Watford.
Our investigation into the non-fatal shooting of a man in Bromsgrove found the level of force used was proportionate and appropriate. We found that the man was armed with an air pistol – a replica of a hand gun. The officers gave the command to ‘drop the gun’ ten times. He did not comply and pointed the weapon at them. After shots were fired, officers engaged with the man in a calm and professional manner, providing him with medical aid.
We investigated Dorset Police officers’ actions after a man was restrained prior to his death. Our investigation found that the restraint was necessary and reasonable in the circumstances. We identified learning for three members of police call handling staff.
Other investigations news
A West Midlands Police custody sergeant was convicted of assaulting a detainee who was punched in the face while on the floor. We investigated the incident after a referral from the force. We reviewed custody CCTV footage and records, took witness statements from officers and staff who were present, and studied the relevant national and local police policies and guidelines.
A former police officer pleaded guilty to common assault after our investigation into his use of force on a teenage boy in Bristol. Police officers should only use force when necessary, proportionate and reasonable in the circumstances. Our investigation was launched following a complaint into the level of force used during this incident.
A MPS officer was dismissed by a disciplinary panel over allegations that he used abusive and discriminatory language and planted evidence. He will be placed on the College of Policing’s barred list preventing him from working in the police service. Our investigation began after concerns were raised by other officers. We sent our investigation report to the Metropolitan Police Service, which decided that the officer had a case to answer for gross misconduct.
Investigation summaries published in October
Last month we published summaries of 30 independent investigations we recently closed. They covered allegations of misconduct by police officers, deaths in custody or following release from custody, and fatal and non-fatal collisions following pursuits.
Kathie Cashell, Director, Strategy and Impact, and Thea Walton, Head of Knowledge and Oversight, attended the Conduct and Performance Liaison Officer (CAPLO) conference hosted by the Police Federation in Liverpool. They spoke about the timeliness of our investigations, our oversight of how forces handle complaints and conduct matters, our impact report and upcoming legislative reforms. Their involvement was received very positively.
We ran an event for policing stakeholders in the north west to raise awareness of the IOPC’s role, values and direction of travel. The event included a range of presentations and sessions on our core operational work. Attendees included police staff with responsibility for handling complaints, Police Federation representatives and senior officers. Once we have evaluated the event, we anticipate that we will hold similar regular events across England and Wales.
A look at some of our Director General’s engagements in October
During October Michael Lockwood, our Director General, met with Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor for Policing in London to catch up on issues relating to policing in London and our general progress. They also discussed the new legislation affecting the police complaints system, which we expect to come into effect next year.
Michael met with Sean Rigg’s sister, Marcia Rigg, her lawyers and Inquest. Mr Rigg died in police custody on 21 August 2008 after being arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service earlier that day. The meeting included reflection on the positive work being done to reduce deaths in custody. While nothing can replace the loss of Sean, we are doing all we can to make sure that lessons are learnt from the events surrounding his death so that they are not repeated.
Representatives from the Crown Prosecution Service met Michael to discuss disclosure. Disclosure is the term used to describe the obligation to provide the defence with copies of, or access to, all material that is capable of undermining the prosecution case and/or that could assist the defence. We have agreed to develop a memorandum of understanding covering this area. It was a positive meeting and a step towards achieving our ambition to make sure that the whole criminal justice system works better together.
Michael also held meetings with Tim Loughton MP and David Davis MP to provide an overview of our work and listen to their feedback.
The findings of our Operation Kentia investigation into the conduct of MPS officers who applied for search warrants as part of the force’s Operation Midland investigation into allegations made by Carl Beech are available on our website.
We published our annual report on police complaints statistics for England and Wales. The report highlights that, for the first time in a decade, police forces in England and Wales are handling more complaints through local resolution rather than lengthy and complex investigations.
Investigations started and completed
In the period April 2019 – October 2019 we completed 77% of the investigations we closed in 12 months or less, compared to 77% for the same period last year.
We continue to focus effort on closing older cases, which has had an impact on our recent performance data.
*This figure may change as a result of data being recorded after the figures are collated.
The % of upheld appeals is worked out from the number of appeals upheld over the total number of valid appeals completed.
PDF version of our performance data.
Find out how we are performing against our targets.
If you have any comments on Roundup, please let us know.
Read previous issues here.