A formal enquiry into the time it takes for IOPC investigations to be resolved hasn’t produced any results yet, says West Yorkshire Police Federation.
Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) leaders have submitted evidence of the detrimental impact of lengthy investigations to the Home Affairs Select Committee, as part of a wider review into the police watchdog.
It’s ‘Time Limits’ campaign is urging for less complex cases to be concluded within 12 months from an allegation being made.
Brian Booth, West Yorkshire Police Federation Chairman, says that ambition has yet to bear fruit on the frontline.
“We’ve not seen any speeding up of enquires yet – the IOPC just keeps coming back with decisions which prolong the agony for officers,” he said.
“It seems to me IOPC investigators don’t want to make a decision, or are not empowered to make decisions. Whether that changes over time, I don’t know.”
Some high-profile IOPC investigations have taken seven years or more to be resolved, leaving officers and their careers in limbo. Even simple conduct cases can take over three years to be sorted, Brian said.
“I don’t know if the IOPC is capable of change at the moment. Quite often you think to yourself: how have they come to this conclusion?”
Drawn-out cases can be devastating for the officers involved and their families, Brian said, and the nightmare doesn’t always end once they have been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.
“IOPC investigations can be so detrimental to officers, their families and their colleagues who see them go through the process,” he said.
“Even the strongest officers can be dreadfully affected. It’s like telling someone they are corrupt or a bad person and that they are going to go to court and lose their job, when they know they have done a good job and the job they were trained to do.
“Can you imagine what that feels like? Over time it plays on your mind, you start questioning yourself as a person, it builds up.
“Even if the Crown Prosecution Service say there is no criminal case to answer, the IOPC could recommend you are put before a panel and lose your job. All this can take place over three years or more.
“There needs to be more openness and honesty from the IOPC.”
Date posted: November 10, 2020