Fed chair: ‘Too many officers still suffering from lengthy IOPC investigations’

South Wales Police Federation has welcomed the findings of a Parliamentary inquiry into the police complaints and disciplinary process.

A report published this week, following an 18-month inquiry by the House of Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee into the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), revealed that 91 per cent of its case backlog had been cleared, but it was “troubling” that there are still concerns about delays.

It noted that these: “Detrimentally affect people’s lives, about complexity of language and processes, and about inconsistency in updating and supporting officers and complainants during investigations.”

South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne said: “There have been too many incidents of police officers being cruelly left in limbo, their lives on hold. The report noted one investigation that lasted for seven years before the officer was exonerated – just think of the cost of that, including to mental health.

“It is totally unacceptable and is why we’ve been calling, as part of our Time Limits campaign, for a cap on the length of time misconduct taken to conclude and investigation, and greater scrutiny.”

The 56-page report highlighted that:

  • The police discipline system needs to be simpler and more transparent
  • IOPC should diversify its investigation team to include those from a military sphere with relevant experience, as well as former police officers
  • 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
  • Some forces suffer from a culture of non-co-operation in investigations.

It recommended the police discipline system should be simpler and more transparent, using accessible language, and for top-down culture of rapid, open and non-defensive responses to complaints about conduct.

And that Police and Crime Commissioners are funded to record and systematically monitor the root causes of complaints and how their forces resolve those issues.

Steve added: “We support the conclusion that the IOPC must explain its decisions to the public in non-technical language, and ensure complainants are given more facts about the process, so they have realistic expectations about their complaint.”