Changing from IPCC to IOPC ‘not just a new logo’

22 May 2018

Michael Lockwood

Michael Lockwood, Director General of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), said: “ We are an organisation that provokes strong opinions. But respect – from all sides – is what I would wish to achieve. Changing from the IPCC to the IOPC will not just be about a new logo.”

“We will not always agree. And the IOPC will not always be popular. But I hope an unwavering focus on true impartiality, combined with better listening and improved relationships with communities [and the police] will help us earn respect on both sides, even in disagreement.”

Investigators from the organisation have already begun training alongside officers to better understand the issues the police face. “But neither does it mean we can’t meet with community campaigners to talk about stop and search; or that we shouldn’t develop supportive and professional relationships with bereaved families through our family liaison team.”

Mr Lockwood also talked of a shift from the blame culture to one of performance and learning. He said : “ I don’t want to see officers sanctioned because of a genuine mistake which could be better dealt with as an opportunity to learn and improve. Many of those I have spoken to have supported the need for an improved approach to addressing unsatisfactory performance within the police, so that mistakes  and poor performance are recognised and treated as such – and the disciplinary route is focussed on the most serious matters.”

He admitted lengthy investigations were a problem: “I know that it can be a very difficult experience for the officers involved. The situation can be made worse if their lives are put on hold for too long, waiting for an outcome. The headline from you is that we are bureaucratic and slow. It won’t surprise you to hear that tackling this issue will be a big priority for me.”

Currently, he said the IOPC, which replaced the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in January, completed  roughly a third of their investigations within six months, and two thirds within a year. But he said delays were not just of their own making – other agencies, such as the Crown Prosecution Service, coroner, pathology services also played a part. At the end of 2017/18 they had completed 709 investigations.

Federation conduct lead Phill Matthews said he welcomed the changes: “We are beginning to see change and reform at the IOPC. We asked for a performance culture and are working with all parties to create a new process which should hopefully take a large chunk of what used to be classed as misconduct out of the system.

But he added: “There are some challenges ahead of us for sure. The Jermaine Baker decision highlights the problem with the ‘case to answer’ test. We are yet to be convinced that the IOPC have fully resolved this or fully understand the implications long time delays have for everyone involved. The recent decisions on the Sean Rigg case in the Met after a 10 year wait and the Thomas Orchard case in Devon and Cornwall after nearly six years waiting cause us concern.”

He told the Director General: “The ball is now firmly in your court. Our 120,000+ police officers are looking to you to prove that if they are investigated that they will be treated fairly, proportionately and a lot quicker by your organisation than before.”