PCCs talk of devastating impact of long conduct inquiries


PUBLISHED 22 Mar 2021

IN News

The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) campaign to limit the length of conduct investigations has been given a boost – by Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs).

A House of Commons committee heard evidence from three PCCs about the devastating impact lengthy Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) probes can have – echoing the Federation’s Time Limits campaign.

Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom today welcomed the comments from the PCCs to the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Liz said: “Our Time Limits campaign calls for investigations to be completed within 12 months of the allegation, and to hear PCCs giving direct evidence to MPs about the impact they have on officers is a real boost.

“We know that professional standards have to be maintained and improved, but there is a significant human and a financial cost to lengthy investigations.

“They can have a real impact on officers, their families and colleagues and they also cost the taxpayer.

“Our Time Limits campaign is getting results and we’ll continue to push for improvements because protracted and inappropriate investigations are in no one’s interests.”

The Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the role and remit of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) heard evidence from the PCCs and two academics about how police conduct complaints are handled.

North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan was among the PCCs to give evidence.

She said: “The timeliness issue was causing all sorts of issues for individual officers. In fact, the impact of it was much wider, in terms of views of lack of competency on the part of the IOPC and lack of fairness to officers.”

Sue Mountstevens, Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset, acknowledged that progress had been made at the IOPC especially in restricting the time limit to 12 months before an explanation has to be given to the PCCs, but also mentioned that greater accountability was necessary, adding: “I wonder where the accountability is to the IOPC if they go longer than 12 months.”

Alun Michael, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, said: “We ought to look at the acceptable length of time being reduced from 12 months to something much shorter than that.”

Phill Matthews, the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) national conduct and performance lead, gave evidence to the committee in late January and described the deep and damaging effects long-term investigations can have.

After this latest evidence from the PCCs, he said: “It is really positive that all seem to agree that 12 months for an investigation is more than adequate and that PCCs would like that to see that reduced and have more ability to hold the IOPC to account for the time investigations take. PFEW will continue to campaign relentlessly to ensure fairness for our members.”