184. It is clear from the evidence that we have received
that police complaints and disciplinary procedures are inadequate
both to ensure effective management and to command public confidence.
Although we differ on some details, the Committee has unanimously
concluded that this situation needs to be tackled robustly. We
have identified a series of changes to existing procedures and
other measures which will, we believe, help to resolve the problems
that have arisen. We trust that they will be speedily implemented.
List of Conclusions and Recommendations
185. Our conclusions and recommendations are as follows:
Current standards of behaviour in the police
1. Although we reiterate that only a small
minority of police officers is involved, we conclude that there
are current grounds for concern about the behaviour of some police
officers. This small minority is damaging to the overwhelming
majority who are honest. The importance of dealing with the problem,
if the confidence of the public in the police is to be maintained,
must be recognised (paragraph 15).
The system for dealing with poor performance
2. We welcome the proposed introduction to
the disciplinary system of a procedure to deal with inadequate
performance by police officers and urge that this is done without
further delay (paragraph 21).
Does the present system enable misconduct to be
identified and dealt with ?
3. We find the present lack of clarity in
[the statistics of complaint outcome] to be unsatisfactory, and
we recommend that in future the totals for 'informal resolution'
should be broken down in such a way as to indicate more precisely
the outcome in each case (paragraph 28).
4. There is a great deal of justified dissatisfaction
with elements of the disciplinary and complaints systems. Improvements
to the procedures are necessary if the system is to succeed in
dealing with, and if necessary removing, officers who are corrupt
or guilty of misconduct and if the public is to have full confidence
both in the system and in the police as a whole (paragraph 41).
The early stages of a complaint or discipline
5. It should be mandatory for all representations
which could constitute a complaint to be registered by the police
and that, if the police and the complainant disagree on the point,
the complainant must be advised that he or she can appeal to an
independent body for a decision as to whether or not it is to
be regarded as a complaint (paragraph 49).
6. We agree [that it should be possible for
a complaint to be registered directly with the PCA] and therefore
recommend that, though it should remain the case that most complaints
are made to the relevant police force, provision should be made
for a complaint to be submitted directly to the PCA where the
Authority is satisfied that the complainant has good reason for
not wishing to lodge the complaint with the police (paragraph
7. However, we do not think that a convincing
case has been made out for control over what should be resolved
informally to move from the complainant to other parts of the
system, whether the PCA or the police; such a change would run
counter to attempts to increase public confidence in the independence
of the complaints procedure. We support proposals to change the
name of the informal procedure in such a way as to indicate more
accurately that it is a serious procedure, albeit less formal
than the full investigation procedure. We see merit in the PCA's
proposal that there should be a mandatory procedure, following
resolution of a complaint under the re-named 'informal' procedure,
for making absolutely clear to complainants what they have agreed
to and requiring them to confirm their agreement (paragraph 57).
8. We accordingly recommend that police forces
make greater efforts than hitherto to resolve complaints by judicious
use of apologies and ex gratia payments (paragraph 58).
9. We are sympathetic to this proposal [for
the onus on re-starting a complaint investigation after other
proceedings have finished to be switched to the complainant],
so long as it is implemented in a way which would make it quite
clear to the complainant that they were free to continue with
a complaint (paragraph 59).
10. We are of the view that any independent
review body should be given the power to call in for possible
supervision investigations which arise from any matter, whether
or not it has been the subject of a complaint. (Paragraph 62).
The investigation of a complaint
11. There was almost no argument in the evidence
we received against the conclusion that independent investigation
would be desirable in principle, not least because of the boost
this would give to public confidence in the system. We are of
the same view (paragraph 73).
12. Whilst we hope that our other proposals
for reform of the system will have some beneficial impact-if implemented-we
recommend that the Home Office conduct a detailed feasibility
study of different possible arrangements for an independent complaints
investigation process. If the present system, as reformed, continues
to enjoy only low credibility, then independent investigation
will have to be considered. (Paragraph 81).
13. We recommend that the PCA is given the
power and the funds to commission independent investigation in
cases where there is reason to believe that the existing process
is proving inadequate (paragraph 83).
14. We recommend that investigation by an
outside force should become a more regular occurrence than it
is at present (paragraph 84).
Independence and the Police Complaints Authority
15. We consider that, unless and until there
is to be a totally new investigative body, fundamental change
to the complaints process would be premature, though some changes
to the PCA will nevertheless flow from the reforms we have proposed.
We call for the PCA to make robust use of both its existing and
its proposed new powers (paragraph 87).
Action following an investigation
16. There is a danger that the CPS can appear
to make judgements of cases involving the police which are not
properly balanced. We trust the Butler review will propose steps
to address this. One possible course of action might be to require
any decision not to prosecute, in serious cases, to be the specific
responsibility of the DPP, with a duty to state in writing the
reasons for the decision (paragraph 93).
17. We suggest that the idea of making the
Chairman of the PCA specifically responsible for any decision
not to bring disciplinary charges in serious cases might also
be examined, again with a duty to state in writing the reasons
for the decision (paragraph 94).
18. We do not rule out the possibility that
transferring financial responsibility for directed cases to the
independent complaints review body could be a further contribution
to bolstering its perceived independence, but we see difficulties
also and we do not see any need to recommend that such a step
be taken in present circumstances. Nevertheless, arrangements
should be made to allow the PCA to participate in the preparation
of cases where it has directed that a disciplinary charge be brought
19. We consider that adjudication of a discipline
hearing arising from a complaint is an area where independence
is important, particularly from the point of view of encouraging
public confidence. We recommend that the revised complaints procedures
should provide for the adjudication panel to include at least
one independent member (paragraph 99).
Legal protections for accused officers: general
20. [The Minister's] position is broadly the
right one. Certainly police officers operate in special circumstances
and in consequence should not simply be treated the same as ordinary
employees. But their disciplinary procedures should be as close
as possible to the procedures in other walks of life; high standards
are expected of them and their special position does not of itself
entitle them to protections which cannot be justified in other
terms. We conclude that the balance between these two
approaches is currently drawn too far towards excessive protection
for officers (paragraph 105).
The right to silence
21. We recommend that the modified caution
and right to silence applicable to criminal proceedings be applied
also to police disciplinary proceedings (paragraph 109).
Right to legal representation
22. We have concluded that, at first instance
hearings, officers should retain the right to legal representation
only when continuation of their job as an officer-i.e. dismissal
or being required to resign-is at stake (paragraph 113).
The standard of proof
23. There is general consensus that the civil-rather
than criminal-standard of proof should apply in determining guilt
in cases where only lesser punishments are applicable. We have
concluded, on balance, that the civil standard of proof should
also apply where the more serious penalties (dismissal, requirement
to resign, or reduction in rank) are at stake (paragraph 125).
24. We are in no doubt that the proposal to
abolish the 'double jeopardy' rule should stand. If the standard
of proof is lowered at the same time then abolition may well have
a significant effect. If the standard of proof is not lowered
however, then in serious cases the proposed Guidance notes should,
in our opinion, be redrafted to make clearer that any decision
not to bring a charge on the grounds of double jeopardy should
be entirely within the discretion of the Chief Officer (paragraph
A new offence of 'false / malicious complaint
25. We agree with fears that genuine complainants
could be deterred if there were a new criminal offence of making
a false complaint; we do not therefore recommend the introduction
of such an offence (paragraph 133).
Delays in the process
26. We welcome the commitment on behalf of
the Government to addressing as a priority the delays in the system
27. We agree that all disciplinary interviews
should be tape recorded (paragraph 140).
28. We urge the PCA to take steps to reduce
substantially the delays in consideration of reports of investigations;
performance figures for this, with separate figures for time taken
over dispensation cases, should be published in the PCA's Annual
Reports. (Paragraph 141).
29. Chief officers-who must accept the prime
responsibility-must take further action to prevent [excessive
delays in arranging disciplinary hearings] and to come within
the six month target (paragraph 142).
30. We propose that, in respect of complaint
cases, a written explanation should be sent to the complainant
whenever one of the target time limits is exceeded (paragraph
Delays due to sickness
31. If [the forthcoming report by HM Inspectorate
of Constabulary on medical retirements] identifies weaknesses
in the existing powers, then we are in no doubt that action should
be taken to remedy them as soon as possible (paragraph 152).
32. We conclude that the powers available
to chief officers to verify whether an officer is genuinely as
sick as claimed are not inadequate, though they may require a
higher degree of commitment to enforce than is shown at the moment;
we urge chief officers to show that commitment (paragraph 155).
33. We conclude that the regulations should
make clear that a chief officer be allowed to complete disciplinary
hearings in the absence of an accused officer in any case considered
appropriate (paragraph 157).
34. We agree [that judicious use be made of
the power to reduce the pay of officers who are sick for six or
more months]. But we think there is scope for going further,
in that we consider that the provisions allowing reduction in
pay should be applicable where officers who are sick are currently
suspended (paragraph 159).
Completion of other proceedings and 'fast tracking'
35. We agree that chief officers should be
able to go ahead with disciplinary proceedings in advance of criminal
proceedings where the CPS indicates that it is satisfied that
those proceedings will not be prejudiced (paragraph 166).
36. We also agree in principle that there
is a need for an expedited disciplinary process which could involve
dismissal where there is clear evidence of serious misconduct,
or alternatively for suspension on reduced pay where the circumstances
are slightly less serious (paragraph 167).
37. We accordingly recommend that the fast
track procedure should only be used where a chief constable is
satisfied-to a higher standard of proof than simply the balance
of probabilities-that the alleged incidents have occurred, and
further that use of a fast track procedure would not prejudice
a subsequent criminal trial (paragraph 167).
38. We recommend that investigating officers'
reports should be subject to disclosure on the same basis as other
documents relating to the complaint (paragraph 172).
39. We conclude that investigation files relating
to death in custody cases should generally be made available to
the deceased's family before inquests (paragraph 174).
40. We agree that it would not be appropriate
for complainants to have legal representation at a disciplinary
hearing, although this is a matter that may have to be kept under
review. As regards public hearings, we consider that these would
be generally desirable unless in the view of the presiding officer
there are exceptional reasons for requiring them to be held in
private; and we accordingly recommend that such a procedure be
introduced (paragraph 177).
41. We think that complainants should be fully
informed about the outcome of any disciplinary hearing arising
from their complaint (paragraph 179).
42. We agree that the terms of s. 98 of the
Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 should be relaxed so as
to give the PCA greater freedom to explain its work to complainants
and the public (paragraph 180).
The PCA's budget
43. The Committee recognises the constraints
faced in all areas of public expenditure, but draws the Government's
particular attention to the level of the cuts faced by the Police
Complaints Authority. There is a danger that if reduced funding
leads to significantly lower effectiveness then the public's confidence
in the complaints process could be further reduced (paragraph