Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
|Printable version||E-mail this to a friend|
The IPCC notes the report of the Home Affairs Select Committee into the work of the IPCC
Commenting on the report, IPCC Chair Nick Hardwick said:
"We recognise there are areas where the performance of the police complaints system could improve but we do not believe the report presents a balanced picture of the IPCC. A fairer picture would acknowledge what has already been achieved whilst recognising much more still needs to be done.
As the Public Accounts Committee acknowledged last year, the IPCC has helped to improve access to, and raise public confidence in, the police complaints system. The PAC's report stated;
"In the four and a half years since it was established the IPCC has helped to improve access to, and raise public confidence in, the police complaints system”
Independent investigations of the police in the most serious cases are established and routine, the system is more open and officers have been held to account. Deaths in custody have fallen in each year of the IPCC’s existence.
The IPCC works within the resources and powers given to it by Parliament. The IPCC agrees with the Committee that the system is too slow and bureaucratic and is not sufficiently complainant focussed. As both the PAC and HASC acknowledge, the IPCC is under-resourced for the work it is currently asked to do.
The IPCC has taken major steps to address those aspects of this that are within its own control. Our new Statutory Guidance aims to ensure that when the police deal with complaints they concentrate on resolving the complainant's concerns in exactly the way the Committee suggests rather than solely focussing on the discipline of an officer. Where misconduct is the issue, the Guidance emphasises this needs to be dealt with rigorously. We are very surprised that the report makes no mention of the Statutory Guidance, which has been developed over the past two years and subject of wide public consultation, and which aims to address many of the concerns set out in the Committee’s report.
However, more fundamental change, where for the most part the views of the Committee and the IPCC coincide, depends on Parliament agreeing changes to the legislation that governs the work of the IPCC. The IPCC has published far reaching proposals for changes to the legislation that governs the complaints system which reflect the concerns expressed in the report. We are surprised the Committee expresses concerns about the law as criticisms of the IPCC.
The Committee chose to take evidence only from witnesses who were hostile to the IPCC and have polarised views of policing. We are disappointed that the Committee accepted and reported as fact a number of assertions these witnesses made which are demonstrably untrue. For instance, contrary to the assertion in the report, there are absolutely no circumstances in which an IPCC investigator with a police background can investigate a former colleague with whom they worked. Whilst ensuring, through the rigorous oversight of our Commissioners that we avoid conflicts of interest, we believe that the skills and professionalism of former police officers are hugely beneficial to our work. The IPCC is proud of its staff and the high quality work they produce, which consistently stands up to rigorous public examination in inquests and criminal trials. It is a measure of our staff’s integrity and the value they place on establishing truth and accountability that they want to work for an organisation such as ours.
We are surprised the Committee relies so heavily on the evidence of former Commissioner John Crawley. Before leaving the organisation two years ago, Mr Crawley shared collective responsibility for the IPCC. The level of substantiated complaints within his forces was consistent with those of his colleagues. In late 2007 he expressed a desire to be re-appointed for a second term, but only as deputy chair of the IPCC. He did not give the concerns which he expressed to the Select Committee, as his reasons for not pursuing this application.
The IPCC works in a controversial and adversarial environment. We listen to the views of our critics who have strong views for and against the police. However, we believe the high levels of public confidence in the IPCC, which are reflected in repeated independent public opinion surveys, reflect our commitment to carry out our work and reach conclusions fairly, impartially and solely on the evidence.
We welcome the suggestion of the current Committee that their successors should look again at the work of the IPCC. We hope that the new members will support the proposals the IPCC has made for changes to the complaints system and will continue to support an independent and impartial police complaints system free from political interference.
Patricia Keville, IPCC Regional Communications Officer (London)