A Government review of the national police watchdog has been described as “good news” for police officer and the public, following claims by a Yorkshire police boss that “unnecessary and long investigations” cause “untold damage to officers and their families”.
The Home Affairs Committee has announced an inquiry will examine the role and remit of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) within the police conduct and discipline system.
It will look at how it works with police forces around the country to resolve complaints and progress in reforming the system following criticisms of the time taken to resolve complaints. It will also investigate what reform are required to secure public confidence in the police conduct and disciplinary system.
Chair of the Committee, Yvette Cooper MP said: "When the Government established the Independent Office of Police Conduct in January 2018 it was with the promise of new powers, greater independence and faster decision-making. These reforms were meant to increase transparency and build trust in the police complaints and disciplinary process.
"Nearly two years on we continue to hear concerns that the system is not working as it should. In this inquiry we expect to look at the IOPC’s powers and effectiveness but, given that most complaints are dealt with by local forces under the scrutiny of Police and Crime Commissioners, we shall also look at whether wider reforms are needed to build a system in which the public can have real confidence."
The inquiry has been welcomed by West Yorkshire Police Federation Chairman Brian Booth.
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Mr Booth said: "The fact that Home Affairs Committee will be taking on a review of the IOPC is good news for officers and the public alike.
"Time and time again unnecessary long investigations cause untold damage to officer and their families. For those who raise complaints, it cannot be any better as they have to wait for a result and this must affect public confidence.
"The IOPC quote that 85 per cent of complaints are dealt with in a year, this is not a figure I would be proud to hang my hat on.
"It clearly displays a mindset that needs change and if it cannot introduce the change itself, it needs to be legislated for.
"Over lengthy investigations and risk averse decision making is costing the public a lot of money.
"Imposing time limits would be a good way of introducing a framework that both officers and the public could rely, whilst limiting the cost to the public purse."
An IOPC spokeswoman said "great strides" are being made by the police watchdog for investigations to be quicker, but stated more than 80 per cent of investigations are completed within 12 months.
She said: "Where investigations are complex, or where there are related proceedings – for example criminal or coronial hearings – the IOPC cannot control or influence the timings and our investigation may be paused."