Case dropped because IPCC took so long to resolve it

21 December 2017

Disciplinary charges have been dismissed against two officers after a series of ‘stop-start’ investigations by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which took so long to resolve that it was finally deemed impossible to hold a fair hearing.

The incident in 2009 which prompted the allegations was a police pursuit when Liam Albert, 17, crashed the car he was driving in Surrey, suffering injuries which he sadly later died from.  The enquiry centred around three Metropolitan police officers: two PCs – the driver and passenger in the police car – and an Inspector who arrived at the crash scene shortly after the incident. The allegations were not related to the cause of the crash.

The Police Federation's conduct lead, Phill Matthews, has slammed the IPCC for the extraordinary length of time it took for this case to be dealt with.  He said: “The IPCC has been responsible for thoroughly poor and unsatisfactory investigation and decision making during this lengthy saga. The officers and the family of the deceased have been subjected to years of stressful waiting, unexplained delays, and lack of investigation and proper consideration of the evidence. Cases such as this do nothing to enhance public or police confidence in the IPCC as a body capable of holding the police service to account. Reform is long overdue.”

July 2009: A Surrey Police investigation managed by the IPCC looked into the pursuit and the crash.  It was declared that no disciplinary action was to be taken against any officers.

June 2010: Liam Albert’s parents were informed of the outcome of Surrey’s investigation. They subsequently made complaints to the Metroplitan Police Service against all three of their officers. This was delayed pending the inquest into Mr Albert’s death and as a result of the information which emerged during the inquest, held at the end of 2011, his parents reformulated their complaints.

March 2012: The IPCC investigation began again, but shortly after was discontinued with agreement from the IPCC, on request of the Metropolitan Police as it was repetitious of the initial Surrey Police investigation.

October 2012: The family judicially reviewed this decision and in January 2013 the discontinuation decision was quashed.

May 2013: The IPCC appointed a new investigator, however little progress was made as the investigator was almost immediately moved to another case.

October 2013: a new investigator was appointed and an investigation took until June 2015, some 20 months.

January 2014: The inspector and the one police constable were  served with notice that they were being investigated. This was the first time the Inspector had been made aware she was under  investigation for events nearly five years earlier. Neither was interviewed until Sept/Oct 2014.

June 2015: The IPCC investigation report concluded there were cases to answer of gross misconduct against all three officers. The report was provided to the Metropolitan Police Service, to consider what action to take. In January 2016 the Appropriate Authority concluded that gross misconduct proceedings were not warranted and that instead the matters should be addressed by different action. The IPCC disagreed and in April 2016 directed that a misconduct hearing take place, to consider matters of gross misconduct.
The hearing was delayed for a number of reasons for a further 18 months, by delays from the Met and the IPCC.

September 2017: The hearing panel finally dismiss the proceedings citing “significant inherent prejudice to both officers” and were critical of the IPCC investigation, stating the conduct of the investigation was entirely unsatisfactory and completely unacceptable, pursued with no sense of urgency and the delays were not properly explained or justified (3-4 years unexplained). They also pointed out that it was unprecedented for allegations to be pursued so long after events and this should not be allowed to happen again.