Cambridgeshire Police Federation has welcomed the findings of a Parliamentary inquiry that called on the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to become more transparent and publicly accountable.
The report by the Home Affairs Select Committee contained praise for the police watchdog for concluding 91 per cent of its cases’ backlog, but added that it was “troubling” that there were still concerns being raised about delays to investigations some nine years on from the previous report that found this.
Cambridgeshire Federation branch chair Liz Groom said: “I think it is a balanced report that contains learning for both policing and the IOPC and professional standards departments. We certainly agree with the recommendations that there should be greater transparency and accountability around investigations.
“It is totally unacceptable to have investigations that drag on for years, in one case highlighted in the report for seven years, only to conclude with the officer being exonerated, but at great anguish to their mental health and their loved ones, and at cost to the public purse.”
The Federation is campaigning for a time limit to prevent misconduct investigations dragging on needlessly beyond 12 months in the majority of cases.
Liz added: “There is often no rationale for these delays, or they are caused by issues such as lack of disclosure or other proceedings. We support the dismissal of officers who are found to have committed misconduct, but in most cases the IOPC finds that officers are found to have done nothing wrong or simply made mistakes under pressure. We need basic fairness for officers, no different to what would be provided to any other member of the public.”
The 56-page report found that:
- Professional Standards Departments (PSDs) should be properly resourced to ensure complaints are handled to a high standard and in a timely manner
- PSDs should be more transparent and ethnically diverse
- The police discipline system needs to be simpler and more transparent
- Former police officers and military personnel serving as IOPC investigators would bring valuable experience and expertise
- Police and Crime Commissioners should be funded adequately to monitor the root causes of complaints
- Forces must adopt rapid, open and non-defensive response to complaints.
The report also recommended Police and Crime Commissioners having a role in monitoring the root causes of complaints and how their forces resolve those issues.