Home Affairs Committee publishes report on the IPCC

01 February 2013

The Home Affairs Committee publishes its Report on the Independent Police Complaints Commission on Friday 1 February 2013 (Eleventh Report, Session 2012-13, HC 494)

The Committee finds that:

  • the Commission is overloaded with appeal cases;
  • serious cases involving police corruption or misconduct are left under-investigated, while the Commission devotes resources to less serious complaints; and
  • public trust continues to be undermined by the IPCC’s dependence on former officers and the investigative resources of police forces.

The Committee calls for:

  • a new "complaints competency investigation" when forces continually come to the wrong decision on complaints by the public.
  • More cases should be investigated independently by the Commission, instead of sent back to the original force on a complaints roundabout and forces should be obliged to transfer the resources to help cover the cost of such investigations.
  • IPCC investigators should take immediate control of a potential crime scene during the crucial “golden hours” of an investigation into a death or serious injury involving police officers.
  • The Government should provide a specific budget for an IPCC serious cases response team.
  • The Commission should be given a statutory power to require a force to implement its findings. In the most serious cases, the Commission should instigate a “year on review” to ensure that its recommendations have been properly carried out.
  • The Commission must move to a target of 20% of investigators who have moved directly from a career as a police officer, or fewer.
  • The Commission’s jurisdiction should be extended to cover private sector contractors in their delivery of policing services.
  • Officers should be routinely interviewed under caution in the most serious cases involving the police.
  • The Commission should be renamed to reflect its broader remit and functions, covering appeals and complaints for police, UKBA, HMRC and the NCA. “The Independent Policing Standards Authority” is one possibility.

Committee Chair Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP said:

"When public trust in the police is tested by complaints of negligence, misconduct and corruption, a strong watchdog is vital to get to the truth: but the IPCC leaves the public frustrated and faithless.

It is woefully under-equipped to supervise the 43 forces of England and Wales, never mind the UKBA, HMRC, NCA and all the private sector agencies involved in policing.

Nearly a quarter of officers were subject to a complaint last year. Many were trivial, but some were extremely serious, involving deaths in custody or corruption—it is an insult to all concerned to do no more than scratch the surface of these alleged abuses.

The IPCC investigated just a handful and often arrived at the scene late, when the trail had gone cold. The Commission is on the brink of letting grave misconduct go uninvestigated.

It is buried under the weight of poor police investigations and bound by its limited powers. The public are bewildered by its continued reliance on the very forces it is investigating.

The complaints and appeals process is frustrating, time-consuming and frequently flawed.

We must end the complaints roundabout and give the Commission the powers and resources it needs to restore public faith in policing."

Further information

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