Swifter action needed on IPCC reform

29 March 2017

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The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is being challenged over investigation delays, poor practice and mistreatment of officers that leaves members feeling short-changed and aggrieved by the organisation.
The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) is pushing for reform from the IPCC and solutions to the range of issues that have been dogging police officers since its inception.
Phill Matthews, the PFEW's conduct and performance lead, said: “We know from speaking to members that IPCC investigations frequently take a heavy toll on officers and their families over unacceptably long investigations or investigations that should not have even been brought.
“Since it was set up 13 years ago, the IPCC has put officers under appalling pressure, and in some cases they have been driven to quit the job. There are some pockets of good practice in the IPCC, but whenever we try and engage to help improve and spread that good practice, progress is glacial. We keep being told that the IPCC is reforming and things are going to improve but we’ve yet to see the evidence. We have met with the national executive of the IPCC several times and are yet to see any progress regarding our concerns.
“It is unacceptable that officers are being pulled from pillar to post, having to do more with less because of austerity measures, not to mention the added stresses that in itself entails. The IPCC needs to take a more pragmatic and cost effective view of cases it decides to proceed with.”
Mr Matthews’ comments come just weeks after it was announced that IPCC commissioner Jennifer Izekor has had to stand down after being accused of perverting the course of justice. Her handling of a probe into the actions of former Metropolitan PC Mark Gatland is being examined amid his claims that the IPCC supressed evidence that could have cleared him. Another IPCC investigator has also been suspended.
Last month Police Scotland opened an investigation into the handling of Mr Gatland’s case at the Met’s request. Last July, the IPCC acknowledged that there had been “procedural shortfalls” in its investigation of Mr Gatland, who the watchdog had accused of racism. He alleges 14 witness statements were withheld from the IPCC inquiry.
Also, in February this year it emerged that the IPCC waited several months before telling former Federation rep John Jeffrey he was in the clear after an investigation into a custody death. Mr Jeffrey’s plight came to light when a senior IPCC staff officer said he was ‘dismayed’ at the treatment meted out to the Met rep, which he believed had a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of the retired officer. 
The PFEW has a special session at its annual conference in May, where we are seeking to get a broad consensus from stakeholders to move to a more developmental approach to resolving complaints matters.