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Federation and IPCC clash over trust in police officers

PoliceThe Police Federation of England and Wales has slammed the chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Commission for making “insulting and inappropriate” remarks about police officers.

Steve White, Vice Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, has written to Dame Anne Owers saying she made “insulting and inappropriate” remarks after the complaints chief said she was “unable to comment” on whether she had confidence in the police.

Dame Owers also told the World Tonight last week that she was hindered from doing her job because police officers “behave like sulky teenagers”.

Asked directly in a radio interview whether she trusted the police, she was unable to give an answer. After a long pause, Dame Anne said: “I don’t … I can’t answer that.”

In an open letter, Mr White said: “I found these comments and your lack of impartiality as the head of the body set up to independently investigate complaints made against the police, insulting and inappropriate.”

He said: “It is not right that as the chair of the independent body assigned to investigate such emotive cases you are offering such weighted judgements about the police during on-going investigations.

“As the head of the IPCC you are in a position of influence, you hold a public office and as such your opinion is seen to be an endorsement of fact. It therefore stands to reason that you should retain your independence and withhold personal opinion on matters to which your body is assigned to investigate. To say during a media interview that you could not answer the question of whether you trust the police was sensationalist.”

Mr White urged Dame Owers to spend more time with forces so she could see the good work going on every day around the country.

He added: “Personally I am proud to be a police officer and proud of the incredible dedication and sacrifices made every day by my colleagues keeping this country and their communities safe. It is therefore extremely frustrating that instead of trying to build public confidence in the police, as outlined in the terms of reference for your organisation, you seem intent on knocking the police and prejudicing their reputation.”

In response, Dame Anne declined to apologise but states she “recognises and appreciates” the difficult job carried out by police officers every day.

She said her remarks about trust in the police service “must be considered in context”. She said she believed the IPCC and the PFEW need to work together and offered to speak at the Police Federation annual conference in Bournemouth.

She added: “I rarely criticise the police service but it is not my or the IPCC’s role to draw a veil over attitudes or approaches that are unhelpful or unprofessional.”

Date posted: March 13, 2014

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