Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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IPCC redetermines investigation into conduct of Police Federation representatives after a meeting with Andrew Mitchell MP
Following evidence provided to the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC), the IPCC has identified procedural irregularities in the handling of the investigation by West Mercia Police into the conduct of Police Federation representatives after their meeting with Andrew Mitchell MP. This means that the investigation is not complete, there is no final report and decisions made are void.
As a result, the IPCC has redetermined the mode of investigation and has decided, given the public interest in this case, that it will carry out an independent investigation. The IPCC made this decision after reviewing evidence provided to the Committee. It is able to do this within current resources because of the thorough investigation carried out under its supervision, which established that this can be done separately from the major investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service into the events at Downing Street and its aftermath.
Deborah Glass, IPCC Deputy Chair said: “I made a statement on 15 October 2013 about the conduct of the Police Federation representatives of West Mercia, West Midlands and Warwickshire Police, who met Mr Mitchell at his constituency office in Sutton Coldfield on 12 October 2012.
“Since making this statement, evidence given to the Home Affairs Select Committee on 23 October 2013 revealed a number of procedural irregularities between the production of the draft and final West Mercia reports.
“On 12 August 2013, a final report was provided to the IPCC. It contained a single set of conclusions to the effect that no case to answer for misconduct was made out against any of the three officers under investigation.
“However, it is clear from CI Reakes-Williams’s evidence to the HASC that this conclusion did not reflect his opinion. His opinion was (and remains) that a case to answer for misconduct was made out. However, he mistakenly believed that his report should reflect the view of the “appropriate authorities” – the senior officers in each of the forces involved.
“The 'appropriate authorities' are the final decision-making bodies, and they are entitled to reach a different decision to the conclusions of the investigator. However, this is an entirely separate process. The procedure described above has conflated the two.
“As I said before the Home Affairs Select Committee, if the investigation was concluded, as I understood it to be when the final report was sent on 12 August, I would have no power to redetermine the mode of the investigation as to do so would be an abuse. What is now clear is that the final report I received did not contain the opinion of the investigating officer, but instead erroneously recorded the view of the appropriate authorities. Therefore, for the purposes of the legislation, I consider that in fact there is no final report. Consequently, the investigation is not complete and the decision making function of the appropriate authorities concerning whether the officers have a case to answer for misconduct is not yet engaged; the decisions they have purported to reach are void.
“I consider that to remedy the irregularities and conclude the investigation, a final report now needs to be produced that accords with the statutory regime.
“In light of the above, I am able to redetermine the mode of investigation. I have determined that a change in the mode of investigation is justified as it would be in the public interest to do so, not least because the catalogue of fundamental procedural irregularities is capable of significantly undermining public confidence in the final outcome of the investigation.
“The only mode of investigation that would satisfy the public interest and maintain confidence in the police oversight regime is an independent one, carried out by the IPCC’s own staff, and this is what will now take place.
“This decision should in no way be seen as a reflection on the work done by the appointed investigating officer from West Mercia Constabulary, Chief Inspector Reakes-Williams, who in my view carried out a thorough investigation notwithstanding the irregularities which arose at the end of it, and who has demonstrated his integrity in the conduct of that investigation and in his evidence to the Committee. Nor should it be taken to be a reflection on the integrity of any of the appropriate authorities.
“In the interests of fairness to all parties, no-one involved in the original investigation will be involved in the independent investigation which will now take place.”
Notes to editors:
A video of Deborah Glass' statement is available at this link: http://youtu.be/3V9M2XISYqc.
Re-determining this to an independent investigation does not mean that the IPCC needs to reinvestigate the work already carried out by West Mercia Police. IPCC investigators will not duplicate any existing investigative work with which they are satisfied. Once the IPCC investigators are satisfied that the investigation was sufficiently robust and challenging they will produce a new report in accordance with the Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012.
Referenced evidence provided by CI Reakes-Williams can be found on HASC transcript p2 Q7.
Background: The investigation was initially supervised by the IPCC to be consistent with a supervised investigation of the MPS into the Downing Street incident. This investigation sought to establish whether Police Federation representatives from West Mercia, West Midlands and Warwickshire forces, provided false accounts of a meeting they held with Andrew Mitchell MP in October 2012 in order to discredit him. The investigation began in January 2013, was widened in March 2013 to include West Midlands and Warwickshire officers, and concluded in July 2013. The IPCC was provided with the report in August 2013.