MPs to examine police disciplinary system

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A group of MPs is to scrutinise the police conduct and disciplinary system and investigate whether wider reforms are needed to improve its efficiency, amid the growing number of complaints recorded against police officers.

The Home Affairs Committee will examine the role and remit of the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC), which investigates the most serious misconduct allegations, and how it works with police forces to resolve complaints.

The inquiry will also consider whether measures introduced to reduce the time that complaints take have made a difference.

Police officers have expressed concern about delays in the system as restrictions on the duties officers are able to do while under investigation puts additional workload on colleagues.

The lack of a time limit for a complaint to be brought after an incident has also been criticised.

Committee chair Yvette Cooper said: “When the government established the Independent Office of Police Conduct in January 2018, it was with the promise of new powers, greater independence and faster decision-making. These reforms were meant to increase transparency and build trust in the police complaints and disciplinary process.

“Nearly two years on we continue to hear concerns that the system is not working as it should. In this inquiry we expect to look at the IOPC’s powers and effectiveness but, given that most complaints are dealt with by local forces under the scrutiny of police and crime commissioners, we shall also look at whether wider reforms are needed to build a system in which the public can have real confidence.”

In 2017/18 there were 31,671 complaints recorded against police officers, compared with 22,898 in 2004/05.

Phill Matthews, conduct and performance lead at the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the current system was not working as it should and there are areas of the system where its effectiveness could be improved.

“We have been deeply worried for some years about the standard and length of time their investigations can take to complete and have been campaigning for a 12-month time limit to be introduced to ensure the distress and anxiety caused to all those involved in the process can be minimised,” he said.

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