Independent Police Complaints Commission - Public Accounts Committee Contents

3  Measuring the outcome of the IPCC's work

19.  The IPCC is responsible for ensuring that its recommendations have been received and accepted (or rejected) by the relevant police force. The IPCC's four regional offices have adopted widely varying approaches to tracking the acceptance of recommendations. In the Northern and Central regions the acceptance or rejection of recommendations is centrally recorded. In contrast, there is no auditable evidence of any central recording or monitoring of police responses to recommendations in either the London & South-East or Wales & South-West regions.[33] The IPCC accepted that it needed to maintain a better record of how a police force responds to its recommendations.[34]

20.  The IPCC also does not systematically monitor whether recommendations, once accepted, have been implemented by the police.[35] The IPCC has informal arrangements which rely upon the IPCC's Commissioners liaising with senior police staff before recommendations are made to establish whether they will solve the problem identified. The Commissioner will then check that the force intends to implement the change and will often liaise with the force once the recommendation has been made to check that it has been implemented.[36] The IPCC does not have the statutory power to enforce implementation since its remit is not to determine how priorities should be made for policing.[37]

21.  There is currently no agreement on who has responsibility for monitoring that the IPCC's recommendations, once accepted, are implemented. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary may consider specific IPCC recommendations as part of its inspections of individual police forces and systems but it does not have a specific remit to follow-up all IPCC recommendations.[38]

22.  Since 2007 the IPCC has published five 'Learning the Lessons Bulletins' in which wider lessons identified from its work are disseminated.[39] These Bulletins provide summaries of where police processes have failed and also highlight best practice. The IPCC can point to some examples where problems identified and solutions proposed have resulted in changes to police procedures. Figure 4 provides two such examples of the impact of IPCC recommendations, but such impacts are not centrally recorded.[40] Failure to monitor the implementation of recommendations systematically is a significant shortfall in the system for ensuring that poor police practices are put right. It also weakens the IPCC's ability to assess its overall effectiveness, and fails to provide the necessary assurance to the public that the IPCC is having the impact expected of it.Figure 4: Examples of the impacts stemming from IPCC recommendations[41]
Example 1: A man killed himself in a cell having tied a noose around a plughole strainer. Following an investigation the IPCC recommended that police forces should change the design of their plugholes, and they have done so preventing further such incidents.

Example 2: Witness protection arrangements broke down in one police force and two people were killed as a direct consequence. Following IPCC recommendations the police force concerned now has one of the best witness protection systems in the country.

33   C&AG's Report, para 3.9 Back

34   Qq 12-13 Back

35   Qq 12-13, 38, 60 Back

36   Q 39 Back

37   Q 41 Back

38   C&AG's Report, para 3.8 Back

39   C&AG's Report, para 3.10 Back

40   Qq 39, 60 Back

41   Q 39 Back

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Prepared 31 March 2009