House of COMMONS









Tuesday 23 February 2010




Evidence heard in Public Questions 1 - 101




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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Home Affairs Committee

on Tuesday 23 February 2010

Members present

Keith Vaz, in the Chair

Mr James Clappison

Mrs Ann Cryer

David T C Davies

Mrs Janet Dean

Gwyn Prosser

Martin Salter

Mr Gary Streeter

Mr David Winnick


Witnesses: Ms Deborah Coles, and Ms Marcia Rigg, gave evidence.

Q1 Chairman: Good morning. This is a one-off session into the work of the Independent Police Complaints Commission. I would refer all those present to the Register of Members' Interests where the interests of Members of this Committee are noted. We will begin our session with evidence from those who have had contact with the IPCC. We are concerned not about individual cases; we are concerned about process. The aim of this Committee is to try to get a very brief report together before the recess at the end of March. We want to look at the way in which complaints are made and dealt with, therefore, rather than the events that have led up to the particular complaint. We are very pleased to have Marcia Rigg here today and Deborah Coles. Ms Rigg, a member of your family was the subject of a complaint made to the IPCC. Did you contact the IPCC after the event occurred, or did they contact you? How did you know that they were there?

Ms Rigg: Basically, on the night that my brother died, at about 2.30 or so in the morning of 22 August - my brother died on 21 August, the evening before - two police officers came to the house to tell us that our brother had died. During that time, they handed a bundle of leaflets to my sister, Samantha - I was not there at the time - and in those leaflets there was information about INQUEST. At about 6.00 am that morning, we made a phone call to INQUEST. They spoke to us on 22 August and we got information about the IPCC, I believe, from them.

Q2 Chairman: The police themselves, when they came to tell you of the news, informed you that there was a way of dealing with your concerns about your brother's death?

Ms Rigg: Basically, they just told us the information that they had at the time of how my brother died. They did not have much information. They just said that they would drip feed us with information within the next number of days. In fact, that was the last time we heard from them. It was ourselves, by making phone calls with INQUEST and such, that we got to know about the IPCC.

Q3 Chairman: Ms Coles, you are free to chip in if you want rather than waiting for us to ask you. Do you have something to add?

Ms Coles: The family were not given any information, on first contact, about their rights to have an independent post-mortem. That is extremely important in the context of an unexplained sudden death in police custody. Quite clearly the family's rights are paramount at such a traumatic time, and the importance of access to information about what is going to happen to them and the investigation process, of course, should be given to them at the first instance.

Q4 Chairman: Were you told about the powers of the IPCC at all?

Ms Rigg: We were not told about the full powers, I do not think, until we had a meeting with them, which was some time in September. He had already had an autopsy. We had to fight tooth and nail as a family in order to get to identify our brother, and he had already had an autopsy. He may not have been our brother. We were very distraught about that. That was at the very early stages. We were distraught. We met the FLOs from the IPCC at the mortuary, which was on the Saturday when we saw our brother, and we later had a meeting with them. They came to our house on that date. I think that was Saturday 23 August. They came to our house and they explained some of the procedures then, but the first time we met the FLOs from the IPCC was at the mortuary when we went to identify our brother.

Q5 Chairman: Would you give us the year that this happened?

Ms Rigg: 2008.

Q6 Mrs Cryer: On that small amount of information I have from you now, who identified your bother following his death?

Ms Rigg: As far as we understand, the police officers who came to the house on the night had identified our brother. When they came to say that our brother had died, my sister said, "Well, we need to identify him," and they said, "You can't." When my sister said, "Why?" they said, "Because he's in a body bag. He's been sealed off and his body belongs to the state". They offered his passport to my sister for us to identify him from that.

Q7 Mrs Cryer: If I might say so, there is something a bit wrong here. My husband was sitting next to me when he was killed in a car accident, so I knew it was him, and I knew he was dead, but he still had to be identified.

Ms Rigg: That is right.

Q8 Mrs Cryer: And because I was very shaken they asked my daughter to identify him, but at least that was what was done.

Ms Rigg: Exactly.

Q9 Mrs Cryer: I cannot understand. In a situation like mine, where it was quite clear at the hospital, to the police and to everybody, he had to be identified, yet with your brother, in these very difficult circumstances you were not asked to do that straight away after his death.

Ms Rigg: No. We saw him on the Saturday morning and he had already had an autopsy, so he was covered from here to there.

Q10 Mrs Cryer: I know.

Ms Rigg: And we were not allowed to see the rest of his body. He was behind a locked glass door - which was devastating - and the family had to insist that we went inside. When we eventually did get inside, there were wounds to, well, I cannot really discuss the case, but there were wounds on my brother, on his head.

Q11 Mrs Cryer: How many days was it after his death that you were notified about the existence of and the duties of the IPCC? Was it within a very short time?

Ms Rigg: We were a very proactive family. From the very beginning, when the police officers came and told us what had happened to Sean, we found things just did not add up at the time. We made phone calls ourselves and looked on the internet. We were doing our own research, basically. INQUEST were very helpful and that is how we know about the IPCC. We got hold of the investigator at the time, which was Mr Christopher Patridge, who was the original investigator at the time, and we were speaking to him on the telephone by the Friday evening, trying to get to identify our brother, to see our brother. We found him on the telephone.

Q12 Mrs Cryer: As soon as you knew of the IPCC's existence and they started to work on this case, how long did it take and what did they do?

Ms Rigg: How long did it take to?

Chairman: To complete the investigation.

Q13 Mrs Cryer: To complete the investigation, but, also, what did they do in the initial stages?

Ms Rigg: First of all, the investigation was completed this month, so that is at least 18 months since the death of my brother for the report to be done. In the meantime, as a family we felt that we personally have had to push and push and push the IPCC for the most minute sort of question to be answered. Initially they contacted us on a weekly basis. Sometimes it was not, it was like every two weeks, but when they did contact us on a weekly basis there was nothing to report. Officers were not interviewed until seven months after the incident. Call handlers were not interviewed until nine months at least after the incident. On the morning of the next day when my brother died, on the Friday morning, the IPCC were at the hostel taking vigorous statements from hostel staff for nine hours, yet the police officers who were there on the night with my brother when he died had not been interviewed by the IPCC. For families there is no confidence in that. That is why it was, after two months, that we decided to make a complaint to the IPCC, because officers had not been interviewed. They contacted Sadiq Khan, our MP, who had also got involved at the very early stages and had written letters to the IPCC himself asking why officers had not been interviewed. Also, the IPCC did not cordon off the arresting scene on the night.

Chairman: Thank you. We will come to some of these other points as well.

Q14 Mr Winnick: One has the greatest sympathy, it goes without saying, about the terrible incident which occurred. It was expressed on numerous occasions in the House of Commons and I repeat it. That feeling was shared by all of us. It was a very, very tense time when it occurred. We are all deeply sad, genuinely sad, and it is an event that is not likely to be forgotten. You have made clear to my colleague, Mrs Cryer, that you are far from happy over the way the IPCC acted. Do you think they were insensitive or indifferent?

Ms Rigg: From my perspective and from meeting other families that have been in the same position as myself, losing someone in such horrendous circumstances, in suspicious circumstances, we feel that the IPCC are very much heavily biased towards the police. We found them insensitive at certain points. To them it was just another job, but for us it is losing a loved one. If we cannot get answers that make sense, just basic simple answers to questions like what happened on the night - it is horrendous how families are failed - we feel that the whole thing is out of our hands, totally out of our hands. Once your loved one dies in custody and is in the hands of the state, the body belongs to the state, and then families are literally left with nothing. That is how it feels because you are just constantly stopped at every door that is opened because there is nothing you can do. There are long, drawn-out investigations which should only take a matter of months if all the evidence is there on the night. He was in the authorities' hands from start to finish. Everything is there. Why has it taken over 18 months to complete an investigation? In our opinion the whole thing is in defence of the police. The police did no wrong.

Q15 Mr Winnick: You did not get in any way the impression that they were on your side?

Ms Rigg: No. Never.

Mr Winnick: Thank you.

Q16 Mr Streeter: You have already said it has taken 18 months to produce this report and you feel, and I agree with you, that is far too long. What kind of timescale do you think would have been reasonable to inquire into this complex matter?

Ms Rigg: Whilst the matter is complex, all the evidence was there. It was not as if my brother was murdered by an ordinary civilian and we did not know who the murderer was or where he was murdered, so therefore you have to investigate that. In this particular case everything was there. If it was the other way round and my brother had kidnapped a member of the police and put them in the back of the police van, transported them somewhere, he would have been interviewed immediately on the night. All the information was there. It is sad that when your brother dies in the hands of the state the situation is completely reversed. This is the problem that families have, whereby it is all taken out of your hands and it is long and drawn out and you do not get proper answers. In the beginning, the investigation is flawed - from the very outset.

Q17 Mr Streeter: Do you think three to six months would have been an acceptable length of time?

Ms Rigg: Yes, because I think that, in other cases, cases are done and dusted within six months, the court hearing and everything has happened.

Q18 Mr Streeter: Having seen the report, which obviously I have not seen, and I do not know if any Member of the Committee has seen it, what do you make of the outcome? I think you have hinted that you are not happy about it, but has it satisfied you?

Ms Rigg: In no way, shape or form. It has not satisfied me because I believe that the investigation has been flawed from the very outset. The report appears to be very biased towards the police. Obviously, I cannot discuss the report because it is not a public document at the moment.

Q19 Mr Streeter: What has this done to your confidence in the police force and the establishment that is supposed to be there to protect you from any wrongdoing by the police force?

Ms Rigg: I had every confidence in the police prior to my brother dying. We are a family who has never had contact with the police. We were saddened by the fact that, when you lose a loved one --- I am sorry, I have forgotten the question.

Q20 Mr Streeter: Do you have confidence in the police force and their guardianship?

Ms Rigg: I have no confidence in them now after what happened to my brother and the events that happened after that. Speaking with other families myself, I personally have met the Jean-Charles de Menezes family, the Ian Tomlinson family, the Roger Sylvester family, other high profile cases, and we all feel very much the same way, that we do not have any confidence in the police.

Mr Streeter: Thank you very much.

Q21 Gwyn Prosser: Ms Rigg, when people are tragically killed in road accidents and come to grief in other ways, police forces set up a police liaison officer. My experience in Kent is that when a family is terribly distraught and grieving, as you are, they speak so highly of the service they get from this individual police liaison officer, someone who comes along to the house, meets the family, engages with them, talks them through the process, et cetera. Apart from your formal contacts with the IPCC and the police, was there anything approaching that sort of service for you?

Ms Rigg: Where we felt that they were being nice to us?

Q22 Gwyn Prosser: Where someone had been designated as the police liaison officer.

Ms Rigg: Yes, somebody was designated as the police liaison officer, Mr Richard Omitosho. Initially, there was another lady who was involved - I cannot remember her name - but she very quickly came off the scene, for reasons unknown to ourselves. He was fairly helpful with us and quite nice with us, but the information that he was given from higher people in the IPCC was that there was no information to give us at the time. In the situation you have just explained, where a civilian was killed, the difference here is that my bother died in the hands of the state, it is quite different circumstances. Families do not feel the same caring effect when it happens when your brother dies.

Q23 Gwyn Prosser: I was going to ask you whether you would recommend others to use the service of the IPCC, but your view is pretty obvious from the service you received. Is it not the fact that most of us do not have any alternative, there is nowhere else to go, is there?

Ms Rigg: There is nowhere else to go. That is why we need another service. Some of the people who work for the IPCC are ex-police officers. For families, where is the independence in that? It does not give confidence for the family. Whilst I appreciate that officers may have the experience and so forth, why can a normal layperson not do a course whereby they can learn the skills that an officer would? Families have no confidence when there are ex-police officers involved in the IPCC. When matters of CCTV, for instance, are sent to an expert, it is an ex-police officer. Everything is sent out to ex-police, and families have no confidence in this.

Q24 Gwyn Prosser: We will be talking to the Chairman of the IPCC after you have given your evidence. Will you have the opportunity to sit down with them and go through the report and discuss the report? This is a difficult one, but which one question would you like this Committee to put to the Chairman?

Ms Rigg: Mr Nick Hardwick has announced on the radio that he has a clear picture of what happened to my brother on the night. I would like Mr Hardwick to tell me today what happened. If he has got a clear picture, then at least he can tell the family because we do not know.

Gwyn Prosser: Thank you.

Chairman: Ann Cryer has a quick supplementary before Janet Dean.

Q25 Mrs Cryer: I have a very quick question. I am sorry to burden you with this, but presumably there was a coroner's inquest into the cause of death.

Ms Rigg: There was an inquest that was opened on 28 August and has since been adjourned. Nothing else has happened. There has not been an inquest. There probably will not be an inquest until 2011, which is three years after my brother died, for us to find out how he died. There is no grieving process here. I cannot grieve because of the long drawn out case. The state drags out the whole investigation process. For grieving families, it is not nice.

Q26 Chairman: Deborah Coles.

Ms Coles: I think the question there was perhaps relating to post-mortem reports, because clearly after Sean died there have been a number. There was the initial post-mortem, which was carried out without the family's knowledge, and there have then been supplementary reports commissioned. There is conflicting evidence there that will obviously be tested and examined at the inquest, which, as Marcia has said, is not now going to take place until some time at the end of this year or next year.

Q27 Mrs Cryer: Normally a coroner's inquest is opened and then closed awaiting evidence. Usually it is reconvened within six months.

Ms Coles: Sadly, it is an important point for the Committee here, the delay both in the IPCC investigation and then, once the report is finished, the coroner can set the inquest date. One of the big problems at the moment in these kinds of cases - because they are Article 2 jury inquests - is that there is serious delay in these inquests taking place. It is not uncommon for families to wait two or three years before that inquest takes place which, as Marcia has said, adds to the grieving process. Importantly, in terms of the quality of the IPCC investigation, it will be at the inquest where the evidence that has been gathered as part of the investigation will be tested. As Marcia has explained, one of the ongoing concerns of families in these kinds of cases is the failure to treat deaths in custody or following police contact as potential crimes and do that important evidence-gathering at the beginning of the investigation. Certainly in terms of the death of Sean Rigg, the lawyers involved have made a number of complaints to the IPCC about what they believe are failings in securing crucial forensic evidence.

Chairman: Thank you. A final question from Janet Dean.

Q28 Mrs Dean: Perhaps I could ask Deborah Coles what more the IPCC can do to improve its performance in cases like this.

Ms Coles: From the initial point of contact with families it is absolutely crucial that they are given information about where to go for independent advice and support. We work with families on a daily basis and we have many, many complaints about the inconsistency of approach to investigations at the IPCC, insensitive communication and contact with families. We very much argued for an independent police complaints system because of the mistrust and the damage that had been done to the whole issue about confidence in the police following the Police Complaints Authority, and we have been disappointed that the culture of the previous system has penetrated into the new system. From the perspective of families, the fact that there are a high number of police appointments within the IPCC is an issue. Sometimes the statements of those at the top of the organisation about what they believe to be good treatment of families does not penetrate down to those who are working on the ground with families. The other issue, I would say, is that there have been concerns about disclosure of information to families during the course of the investigation and not taking onboard families' concerns about questions that they quite rightly have when a healthy young man, like Sean Rigg, dies unexpectedly in custody. You want to know, you want to have information, and you want the confidence that that death is being treated seriously. The delays in interviewing those people who had contact with the diseased do bring a lot of mistrust and suspicion. Marcia and I were talking earlier on about the initial way in which she was informed about the death and the lack of access to Sean's body. That started the damaging relationship from the outset. If you do not get things right at the beginning then the chance of a family having confidence in the system is unlikely. The other thing I would add is that the delay in getting the reports finished needs to be looked at. Quite clearly some of these cases are very complex, so I would not like to put an absolute timeframe on it, but I do think we have examples of investigations which have taken place in a timely, prompt fashion that have inspired confidence in those families concerned.

Q29 Chairman: How much of this do you think can be dealt with by more effective communication and customer service by the police when they originally come to see the victims? We have dealt with, in particular, this case, but there are many routine cases that never get into the public domain. I have found, as a constituency MP, when I write to the police that if the reply comes back quickly and is a full reply constituents are satisfied that something is done. I know it is totally different in your case because it is a very high profile, obviously hugely upsetting case for you and your family, but could we cut down on the number of complaints if we had better customer service on the part of the police? Maybe not in your particular case, but I am talking about generally.

Ms Rigg: The only reason why my case is high profile is because the family has had to push and bring it out there otherwise it would be put under the shelf, on the bottom shelf, and it would all have gone away. The report would have been done in six months with a Mickey Mouse investigation, as far as we are concerned. Had the family not pushed and pushed for there to be a reasonably fair investigation it would never have happened and, therefore, there are ongoing complaints and ongoing complaints and arguments. Nothing has changed. The IPCC has been there for almost six years in April, and, as far as other people are concerned and from what I have read on the internet and meeting other families, nothing has changed. Zero.

Q30 Chairman: Marcia Rigg, Deborah Coles, first of all I would like to reiterate the comments of Members. Our sympathy, of course, is with your family. It is a terrible tragedy that you have had to encounter. Second, thank you both very much for coming in here. If there is anything you think about after you have finished giving evidence to us that you think would be helpful in our very short inquiry, please write to us as soon as possible so that we can include that material in our final report. Thank you very much for coming.

Ms Rigg: Thank you all for listening to me.

Ms Coles: INQUEST will submit a short paper on some of the experiences, but I would also urge you to take some evidence from some of the lawyers who represent police complainants because we are looking at the system as a whole. I will certainly feedback to them that you are willing to take some short evidence.

Chairman: Indeed. Thank you so much.

Memorandum submitted by Mr John Crawley

Examination of Witness

Witness: Mr John Crawley, Ex-Commissioner, IPCC, gave evidence.

Q31 Chairman: Mr Crawley, thank you very much for being present today to be part of our very short inquiry into the work of the IPCC. The Committee was very keen to do this before Parliament rose, as this is one of the inquiries that we have been hoping to have over a number of years. You served as Commissioner on the IPCC for a number of years. Nick Hardwick, the Chairman, has suggested that one of the indicators of the success of the IPCC has been the increase in the number of complaints that have been made to the IPCC. Do you think that is a valid benchmark, a valid measure of success?

Mr Crawley: In the early stages, I think it was. There was a new system. There was a lot of publicity about a new, reformed complaint system. Clearly, that was going to invite people to complain who perhaps had not considered doing so before and to have greater confidence to do so. Six years into the system, to continue to say the increasing number of complaints and formal investigations of complaints against a background of a very, very low percentage of such complaints being substantiated - which are the statistics I have put before you in my written evidence - I have described in my written evidence as a little bit of an 'Alice in Wonderland' argument.

Chairman: Thank you.

Q32 David Davies: Mr Crawley, do you think your lack of confidence in the IPCC could stem from the fact that you obviously felt, rightly or wrongly, that it should have a different agenda from the one that it has? For example, looking at the paper you submitted to us, you obviously have concerns about the use of stop and search powers under section 60, in particular. Whether you like it or not, whether we like it or not, that is a lawful power which Parliament has conferred upon the police and allowed them to use in certain areas. Who are you to demand that that be something that be investigated by the IPCC, when we as parliamentarians have already given the police the ability to use that power?

Mr Crawley: I am not questioning the powers. The examples I gave were where those powers are being seriously abused. I gave three examples: one of potential abuse, which has been reported in the media fairly recently; a very detailed and extensive set of investigations I conducted in the West Midlands which demonstrated, I think, to all involved that a particularly intrusive power, section 60, was being widely misused; and I also gave the example, in 2008 I think it was, of the climate camp in Kent and the need eventually for complainants there to bring judicial review proceedings before the Kent Police accepted that they had misused, again very extensively misused, their PACE powers. My point in my paper is that stop and search has always been, and I think always will be, a very sensitive touchstone between the public and the police. It is where you are stopped in public view. It is where it can be very embarrassing, very humiliating. That is a very important example where the current IPCC complaints oversight does not bite adequately.

Q33 David Davies: I would agree with you that there are issues around the use of some of these powers in some circumstances, but where I would differ is that I would not have thought this was a matter for you to take upon yourself given that the IPCC was set up to look at specific complaints about police officers. Given your obvious concern about the way that policing is carried out in this country, fair concerns though they may be, has that perhaps clouded your whole perception about whether the IPCC is a good or a bad thing?

Mr Crawley: No. All the cases I dealt with were based upon actual complaint cases that have been investigated and upheld. I made it clear in upholding those complaints (West Midlands but also the Metropolitan Police) that it was not the IPCC's role to reach a finding in law; in other words, that the actual detention was unlawful. It was its role, clearly, to get to the bottom of why these powers were being inappropriately used, and complainants would expect such an investigation.

Q34 Mr Clappison: Can I take it that the job of the Commissioner is a full-time job?

Mr Crawley: Yes.

Q35 Mr Clappison: You say in your evidence to us that there have been changes in the organisation of it with some of the roles being taken away from the Commissioners, greater delegation to managers, and the Commissioners no longer deciding the seriousness of the complaint and the role the IPCC should play in investigation. You have used the word "ornamental" for them. What do they do now?

Mr Crawley: That is what I am questioning. I am saying that the Commission, as a body corporate, is a very expensive way for the taxpayer to oversee an organisation - almost uniquely so. My criticism is that Commissioners, although full-timers, do not engage with sufficient detail in the oversight of the complaints system. I give a specific example of the appeal system where I think 99 times out of 100 it is delegated too far down the system, but also I have set out in my written evidence the need for a much more robust approach to reforming how the police investigate complaints. That must be the fundamental reform. I give the figures in here for the Metropolitan Police, which in many ways are the most astonishing: 152 complaints out of 3,807 they investigated were found to be substantiated. I do not believe that is credible. That was the last year statistics were published. It is not credible that virtually all of those complainants' complaints had no merit. Fundamental to this issue is how to reform the way in which the police themselves deal with complaints, including, as the Chairman suggested earlier, obviously pre-empting the need for complaints. When there is a complaint, when a complaint arises, it has to be dealt with by the organisation. That is a good bit of my argument. I have gone on to consider the kind of very difficult, Article 2 type investigation, of which you have been hearing an example earlier today. Culturally it seems to me that dominates and organisationally it dominates the IPCC, it dominates its public profile. I have broadly concluded that to have a more robust Police Ombudsman system, which really drives reform of the basic complaint system, needs reconsidering. One option I have outlined - the only model I am aware of where this applies in a broadly similar way at the moment - is in Australia, New South Wales. I have argued that there is a case for having, if you like, a Commission that would handle serious corruption and criminal allegations against the police, which would be geared up to conduct full criminal investigations and so on, but with a beefed-up and separate Police Ombudsman Service to oversee the ordinary complaint system and make sure that it gets properly reformed. One option for that might be to have a regional approach to such an Ombudsman Service, rather than there being just one national service. I mean genuinely regional in terms of all the English regions. The IPCC has regional offices, but in the last two years it has moved to being a centralised national organisation, so it is not really, in my view, operating any more in any sense as a regional organisation.

Q36 Mr Winnick: Mr Crawley, you were four years a Commissioner. During that time you have said that you have managed to bring about some changes in investigations, including, as previously referred to, stop and search by the West Midland Police. In carrying out your duties during those four years, were you in any way obstructed by the more senior people, the Chair or the Chief Executive?

Mr Crawley: No. I would not say I was obstructed in terms of my individual activities, no.

Q37 Mr Winnick: During those four years did you make your views known about how the organisation could change, as you are now doing?

Mr Crawley: Yes. I argued, for example, quite frequently for the importance of elevating the significance of the appeal system. I was the only Commissioner who ever issued press statements, for example, about more significant appeal cases, because only if the public are aware of how the IPCC has a responsibility to handle and oversee appeals against police investigations will they gain confidence in the system. Clearly, I was a minority voice - I do not pretend otherwise - in terms of arguing for it.

Q38 Mr Winnick: Being in a minority did not in any way lead to you being undermined or told to take a different view, if you were allowed to carry on in the usual way as a Commissioner, would that be correct?

Mr Crawley: Obviously I had to work within the system broadly as it was. I sought to stretch the boundaries, I think it is true to say. I probably, for example - and I think this is statistically true - had more independent investigations that I undertook when I thought it was necessary into complaint cases as opposed to the Article 2 type statutory duty cases, if I can put it like that, than other Commissioners. I sought to stretch the system, but I was not in a position obviously to reform it.

Q39 Mr Winnick: The point I am trying to make, Mr Crawley, and trying to find out from you is in your day-to-day work as a Commissioner in taking a view which you were obviously entitled to hold whether you were in any way obstructed or told to toe the line or anything like that. It is a yes or no, really.

Mr Crawley: I am not claiming that I was in some way interfered with, no.

Q40 Mr Winnick: That is a very interesting answer. It obviously comes from, without wishing to be patronising, a person of integrity. You are not trying to create a situation which did not exist. On the substance of your views, Mr Crawley, do you feel that the weakness of the IPCC has, in a way, to use a phrase, "gone native"? Is it too near the police, is it not sufficiently independent? Would that sum up your general view?

Mr Crawley: In some ways, yes. This is a complex issue and I am not going to sit here today and make a simplistic argument that the IPCC is simply there to defend the police or something. It is a complex issue. There are certainly cultural issues, as I said earlier, around the real corporate priorities and concerns of the organisation which I think focus rightly or wrongly on that very small number of high profile, independent investigations. That dominates its agenda. There are other areas where I have been specifically critical. For example, I think the IPCC spends the great bulk of its time networking in the policing sector rather than more widely. I do not think it has effective networking at all. In the Ombudsman world, there is a Commissioner who is meant to liaise with the Ombudsman body, but that was never something of any substance at the Commission. There is a range of ways in which the organisation fails to be fair to complainants, and I have described it as an institutional bias. In my evidence to you I have set out some specific arguments as to how I think that adversely affects the appeal system, for example. In all those ways I think the end result is that for complainants, particularly complainants, as I say, in a situation where you are getting complaints concerning local policing - and in my view that is primarily where the sort of confidence in the police really rubs, because that is what gets networked around neighbourhoods in that area - the IPCC is not accessible. I do not think it is responsive. I do not think there is a culture of understanding the complainant perspective. That is why I have said that I think there is an institutional bias against it. I have given a great deal of thought to this, both when I was at the IPCC and, indeed, since. My decision to leave and not seek a second term was personally a very painful one. There are institutional reforms that are required. I have suggested, for example, that the Chair position should be a part-time non-executive position. It gets too involved in the executive issues of the organisation and, in my view, the Chair ends up arguing those executive positions at the Commission rather than empowering the Commission as a non-executive oversight body. I have argued - which I do think is important - that the Commission appointment should be for a single term, so that there is no question of people looking over their shoulders as to whether they are going to get a reappointment to what is a very highly paid position, but I have also argued that there is a case for moving the IPCC outwith the Home Office sphere. I think it is far too much in this family of policing organisations. I think it should be an office reporting to Parliament. I have suggested, as I have said today, that there is a case for splitting off the special investigation, the criminal investigation side, from the complaints oversight.

Chairman: We are coming to explore some of those ideas with Janet Dean.

Q41 Mrs Dean: Thank you, Chairman. You have suggested that the IPCC has not "produced any significant change that anyone could point to in the fairness and the rigour of the police complaints system". How should the IPCC be operating? Can it be reformed to meet what you think it should do to operate properly?

Mr Crawley: Given the kinds of pressures on it that I have described, whether the current institutional set-up can be reformed I think is an open question. In terms of what needs to be done, I think there needs to be much more robust intervention at police force level to ensure that complaints are thoroughly investigated, and I have said in my recommendations that there should be progressive reduction in the number of appeals to the IPCC so that it is not handling such a huge volume of appeals. The way to achieve that is for police officers to do better investigations and for more complaints to be upheld by police officers. The current levels are risible, as I have already touched upon. The appeal system, with the pressure of volume off it, can then become a better quality system that will meet complainant concerns more effectively, including the concerns of the lawyers who often represent them, in terms of how it works. In terms of how to reform the way the police handle complaints, I think the IPCC needs to revisit the question of its inspection powers. Early on in the history of the organisation it was agreed that effectively this power would be subcontracted to HMIC, Her Majesty's Inspectorate. I do not think that works really because they do not have a very close interest in the complaint system, as such. They do pick up aspects of it from their inspection programme, but I think that needs to be revisited. At page ten, I have touched on how the current system of referral to the IPCC works. This seems to me a fairly pointless paper chase. Some 2,000 plus pieces of paper are filled in by the police and sent to the IPCC, and at the end of the day only one in ten of those engage in the IPCC. It is really not clear, as a reactive system, what is achieved by that. I have suggested bearing down on those cases where the IPCC goes too far with an investigation that it could hand back to the police, so it does less of those independent investigations, or rather terminates them much faster where it can. Second, it does more complaint investigations of emotional complaints against the police rather than Article 2 type investigations. Third, in subparagraph four on page ten I have suggested ways in which it needs to risk assess each force. How well is this force doing in handling complaints? It then needs to consult much more with the public about their views, both locally and nationally. The way in which HMIC has recently undertaken its public engagement is going through a major exercise of changing from being a backroom organisation to being one that is public facing and very much saying, "What is it the public want the police to do and deliver?" There are lessons for the IPCC to learn from the way in which HMIC has gone about ascertaining what the views of the public are, I think. It needs a much more structured regular system of knowing what the local concerns of people are about their local force. That then informs, if you like, an intelligence-based approach where they call in complaints, and say, "We need to take a closer look at this force, but over here we are pretty satisfied that they are doing a good job.

Q42 Mrs Dean: Would the changes that you suggest help to speed up the process so that investigations do not take as long as they currently do?

Mr Crawley: Clearly in some cases that is the case. There are a significant number of investigations that the IPCC currently starts and it does not need to continue them in the level of detail that it does at the moment, but there are other cases where the original police investigation is too skimpy, so I do not think this is a simple question again. Even with skimpy investigations I have seen amazing examples over the years of how the police have managed to string out a relatively simple police investigation over many months. There is certainly a case for putting much more pressure on the police for performance there but, at the same time, sometimes doing a much more thorough investigation; for example, interviewing the officers to find out just what their account of the incident was, how much they know about the law, rather than simply relying on a statement put in. Again, quite a complex question.

Q43 Mr Streeter: You are making the case for more police forces to deal better with complaints at local level. Do you not think that will require a change in culture of a fairly mammoth proportion? I have never known an organisation like the police, which I greatly admire, for closing ranks when a complaint has been made. In 17 years of doing this job, I do not think I can recall one single time when they have said, "Sorry, we got that wrong". Is that your experience? Will it not require a massive culture change?

Mr Crawley: There are occasions when they say that. Coming back to my point that the Commissioners at the IPCC should be engaging much more regularly and fully with their forces, I think there is too much left to the too junior people in the IPCC. I also think there is a need for some incentives in the system. Let us look at some of the private complaints systems. If you are a financial organisation and you do not resolve your complaint and it goes to the Financial Services Ombudsman, you pay a fee. The appeal system here is a 'no cost' option for the police. First, the chances are that it will not be upheld by the IPCC in any substantive way, and it does not cost them anything financially. I think part of this will be to incentivise the police financially to get (a) the number of complaints down, (b) more credible investigations and (c) less appeals going to the IPCC.

Q44 Chairman: The point that Mr Streeter makes is that sometimes you have to say sorry.

Mr Crawley: Yes.

Q45 Chairman: I am not talking about the Rigg case. People can say sorry about that as well, but it is a much, much bigger case. A much more thorough investigation is required in a case where somebody dies than in the average case that Mr Streeter and I and other Members of this Committee have to deal with where we write a letter and we would really like a reply. Constituents who come back and then end up making an application to the IPCC only do so because there is no reply. Do you think part of the role is to educate the police, and chief constables in particular, to tell them that if they were to provide better leadership they just would not get the complaints in the first place?

Mr Crawley: Yes, I think that is one element. A second element, as you will see in the paper, is that of the individual police officer. Where there is local resolution of a complaint, the current system does not require the individual officer to get involved or to apologise if they have done something inappropriate. I think that is wrong. The police are a public service, like others. There is no reason why individual officers should have that opt-out clause.

Q46 Mrs Cryer: Mr Crawley, the structure of the Commission is such that none of the Commissioners is allowed ever to have had any contact with the police. Retired police officers cannot be recruited on to the Commission. One can understand why that should be the case. I think I am right in saying that once the Commission starts an inquiry the spadework carried out in unearthing what happened in a particular circumstance is not done by Commissioners but is left to others to do. Am I right in saying that spadework of finding out what happened in a certain situation is carried out by either police officers from another force or police officers who are retired or people who do have connections to that particular police officer? Therefore, although we start off from a high position in not allowing Commissioners to have any connection, it looks to me as if, once their investigation starts, frequently people are conducting those investigations who may have sympathy with the police.

Mr Crawley: There are certainly ex police officers - there used to be seconded police officers but I think there are very few of any of those now - there are certainly retired police officers and, as I say in my paper, people from other agencies who are overseen by the IPCC, like the HMRC. They are mostly in the senior positions. I do not think it would be appropriate to say that that should never be the case - it would be unrealistic in terms of the skill set that you would be excluding; I also do not think it is necessary. What it does emphasise, in my view, is the need for the stronger, more independent role of commissioners, I think that is what they should be playing. I think they should be more engaged than the approach that you describe, which is pretty accurate, and that was one of the discussions that I did not really carry my colleagues with when I was at the Commission. I think the commissioner overseeing a case should be hands-on. I do not mean going out and doing the interviews, but keeping a very close brief on it, that is what the families and complainants expect. That was certainly the style I adopted. Where I think it is more problematic is how far the investigative aspect comes to dominate the recruitment criteria. If you take the example of the recent appointment that the IPCC has made as a Director of Investigations - I have no information whatsoever on the gentleman; I have never met him and I am not making a personal comment here at all - I simply observe that the former head of the Professional Standards Department of the Metropolitan Police, a department which in my view has presided over a very poor complaints service generally in terms of the statistics, is now heading up the investigation function of the IPCC. I am sure he is doing that as an expert, probably a very, very good expert in criminal investigations but it does not seem to me that he is likely to be proved to be - he may prove to be but I rather doubt that - somebody who is going to change the culture of the complainant perspective that I have said is what is needed.

Q47 Mrs Cryer: When you were a commissioner did you ever feel as if your independence was compromised or under pressure?

Mr Crawley: It was certainly under pressure; that was one of the points about the job, that it comes under pressure because if you do the job properly from time to time you will seriously upset very senior police officers and they have ways of making their displeasure known, so obviously you are under considerable pressure.

Q48 Chairman: I am sorry, Mr Crawley, in what ways do they make your life difficult?

Mr Crawley: Nothing improper at all; I just mean that they are robust in getting their perspective across, hence the need for senior people in the Commission to be more protective of some of the junior staff who are not going to be able to persuade the police to change their perspective.

Q49 Mr Clappison: Just following on from that, would the senior police officers you are referring to have direct contact with the people carrying out the investigation of former police officers?

Mr Crawley: No, I am not referring to them trying to nobble an investigator at all.

Q50 Mr Clappison: I found it slightly worrying because it begged the question that the Chairman put to you actually.

Mr Crawley: No. Let me be clear, there are two other things I think I would want to say on this score. One is that I think commissioners should be rotated but they are not; some of them move forces but too many of them now, six-odd years into the system, are still overseeing the same force as when they went there and I think that is inappropriate. Inevitably if you have been overseeing a force and its complaints system for six-plus years you become part of the story really if it is not performing very well. I think they should be rotated - and I have suggested perhaps every two years. The other aspect where I think there are not formal rules is ex police officers working in a region where their ex force is. I do not think that is permissible; I do not think they should have any dealings with their ex force, which they do. Those are two suggestions I would make to make the system more transparently independent.

Q51 Mr Clappison: So who is dealing with their ex forces exactly?

Mr Crawley: Senior investigators, for example, or deputy investigators who have joined the IPCC from a police force are not mandated to be operating in a different region and to have nothing to do with their ex police force.

Q52 Mr Clappison: If you take the example, say, of my area - and I am not saying this is the case, I have no idea - Hertfordshire, which is a relatively small police force or smallish establishment, that could have somebody who is the senior investigator of the police who could have been with the Hertfordshire Police?

Mr Crawley: Yes. In one sense this has become less significant as time has gone on, but I raised within the IPCC when I was there my concerns. For example, in the East Midlands, a whole group of officers on one of the local forces had been appointed to the regional investigative and management team and I thought that was quite inappropriate. It created - again, coming back to this culture issue which is intangible but it is really, really important in organisations to get a hold of it - a culture which one or two newcomers to the office said, "This place is like a police station."

Q53 Mr Clappison: No doubt they perform their jobs properly.

Mr Crawley: Yes, it is not about the individuals.

Q54 Mr Clappison: As far as the appearance is concerned, do you think that it gave the necessary appearance of independence when that occurred?

Mr Crawley: No, I do not think so. I do not think that the public has a detailed understanding of all these intricacies of the role of an investigator or a commissioner. I think they would be bound to have some concerns.

Q55 Martin Salter: Mr Crawley, according to an IPCC commissioned survey - perhaps it would say this, would it not; I do not know - 88% of people think that the IPCC would treat their case fairly and consider it independent of the police. This begs a series of questions. Is this a triumph of spin over reality; is it the fact that the word "independent" appears in the title or in reality should we perhaps put that to one side and perhaps ask people like you with direct experience of this issue, is the current system for all its flaws a damn sight better than the previous system where cops investigated cops?

Mr Crawley: I do not think you can say that it is an unalloyed improvement. What happened under the old system in terms of what are now IPCC independent investigations is that generally they would have been handled by what is called an external force, a police force investigation from a team drawn from a different force. I do not think that did inspire public confidence - I think that is right - and I do not have any general argument with the value of what the IPCC has achieved in independent investigations. What I am suggesting to you is that the confidence in the complaints system is a much bigger question than that, and I think in 99.9 times out of 100 it is still the police investigating the police and, as I said in my paper, finding themselves doing a rather good job too often.

Q56 Martin Salter: It is a particular bugbear of mine - lawyers, barristers, take your pick - it is the greatest closed shop in the country and breaking that open is difficult. Are you saying that the model that we have is basically improvable if we were to adopt measures like a greater rotation of commissioners and more clarity in the separation of roles and a less cosy relationship at regional level? You are not arguing for a root and branch ripping up of the IPCC, are you?

Mr Crawley: I am arguing that there are a number of major reforms of the IPCC which I think would improve it. The institutional ones are part of that but I think of equal importance is what I have said in the paper about refocusing it on getting changed performance by the police and how they investigate complaints and how they resolve them. I am also saying that I now have more doubts about whether the current framework where you put together both these high profile and often complex criminal standard investigations of a very small number of high profile incidents - police fatal shootings, deaths in custody and such like - whether putting that together in the same organisation as one that is meant to be overseeing the humdrum business of police complaints, I am not convinced now that that model works and I would say that at the very least the jury is out and that it should be reviewed following the kind of incremental reforms I have talked about. If it is not working then my view is that it is not beyond the wit of policy makers and implementers to look at other models. I have suggested that New South Wales is one possible one where you move the complaints system under an ombudsman. Personally I am not going to go into broader things but I think there is an interesting case, for example, for setting up regional ombudsmen whose job is to oversee a range of public service complaints, not just police; but that is a slightly broader issue. You move the complaints system into an ombudsman service and you move the more complex criminal investigations into a commission or special arm of HMIC or whatever it might be which would handle that.

Q57 Martin Salter: One last brief question, Chairman. A very obvious issue occurs to me. Looking at the briefings we have, these are reasonably fat salaries that are being paid to the members of the IPCC - they are all on considerably more than MPs and the Chair is on a substantial salary. I do not begrudge that but does there not become a situation that if these are full-time posts that it becomes difficult to rock the boat if 100% of your salary, your income, your mortgage is dependent on your role in this body? Is there perhaps not an argument for more people being engaged or members of the IPCC or the commissioners but on a part-time basis so that they are not so financially dependent on retaining what is a rather juicy appointment?

Mr Crawley: I think you have touched on a very good issue. I said earlier that I agonised over what I should do and, to be quite candid, not least of that was whether I should give up a full-time pensioned position at an age when I knew I was not going to get another one.

Q58 Martin Salter: It cost you a few bob to give it up.

Mr Crawley: It has indeed. I think that is one way of addressing it. Another aspect, as I say, would be to say that the people you appoint are there for one term and therefore they are not looking over their shoulder to think, "If I do not get reappointment I am suddenly out on the street", with very little notice inevitably. I think probably a combination of those two, but I think you touch on a very important point.

Q59 David Davies: Going back to some of your earlier criticisms, would you say that most police officers, average serving police constables, have a favourable view about their local standards department and view them as a sort of an ally?

Mr Crawley: As a sort of ally?

Q60 David Davies: As a sort of ally of theirs, yes.

Mr Crawley: I doubt whether they have that view.

Q61 David Davies: I spoke to the head of one standards department who told me that he thought that 1% of his officers were either corrupt or inefficient and should not be in the job, and he saw it as part of his role to go after them proactively. I have spoken to numerous police constables who shudder at the mere mention of standards departments, so I am not sure that I entirely recognise your suggestion that local standards departments are always on the side of the police; it is not how the police see it.

Mr Crawley: There are two aspects of a local standards department: one is the internal conduct side and the other one is the public complaints side. If you look at the statistics you will see that the proportion of police officers who end up either losing their jobs or being given a serious disciplinary warning following a disciplinary panel resulting from a public complaint is a lot, lot less than those arising from their own internal investigations, which I guess is a way of saying that the police have the view that it is they rather than the public who know which officers they do not want to have in their ranks.

Q62 David Davies: Is there not a more straightforward reason for that, which is that when the police are investigating proactively they are able to garner the evidence that they need, whereas all too often in these situations that you were dealing with it was one person's word against another. As we know in any court of law, if you or I get attacked in the street by someone tomorrow, it is our word against theirs and it is going to be difficult to bring a case because unfortunately one person's word against another is a very difficult case to prove.

Mr Crawley: There is certainly an element of that but a good, proactive department, as you suggest, will be able to accumulate the evidence over a considerable period before they move. I am not decrying that at all. I think where I would part company with the way that the police organise their professional standards operation is on two things. One is that that side tends to actually take a greater status and position in terms of what they are looking for in skills, and the people who work in and oversee the standards departments tend to be rotated in there and out on to other policing duties, it is just part of a policing career. I think the size and complexity of the public service role of police these days suggests that there ought to be a more professional complaint resolution and complaint investigation skill set that they should be seeking, for which you do not need to be a police officer; you do not need to hold the commission to do that.

Chairman: Thank you, Mr Crawley. We are most grateful to you for coming here and thank you for your paper. If there is anything else that you want to add to what you have written or said today please let us have it by Friday as this is going to be a very short inquiry. Thank you very much.

Witness: Mr Nick Hardwick, Chairman, IPCC, gave evidence.

Q63 Chairman: Mr Hardwick, thank you very much for coming to give evidence to us. It is, of course, your second appearance in recent months. You were appointed in December 2002 to your post and you have been there for eight years, which is quite a considerable time so you must have a lot of expertise in this area. According to a survey that was recently conducted 80% of the people who had contact with the IPCC were actually dissatisfied with the operation of the IPCC, not the nitty-gritty but presumably some aspect of the way in which it impacted on their lives. How do you explain this?

Mr Hardwick: Can I just say first of all, Chairman, that I am grateful for the opportunity to be here. As you know, last time I appeared I asked for an opportunity to come back and answer precisely these questions, so I am pleased to have the opportunity to deal with that. I think the survey you report to was a survey that was done for the National Audit Office. It was a self-selecting response and I do not think that the National Audit Office included that in their findings. Let me deal with the point this made, which relates to what we have heard very movingly today from the family of Mr Rigg. About that I would say to you that I speak to every new member of staff who joins the IPCC and what I try to explain to them is this: what we deal with in these cases is the worst thing that has ever happened to somebody. They have had a loved one die, often in very violent, horrific circumstances, often after contact with an agency they trusted where personal details about their loved one that are distressing have come out into the public domain, and all of that is resolved in a highly adversarial and public forum. I do not think that there are some easy things that we can say and do that will reassure families in those situations. What I say to our staff is this: "The critical thing you have to do is not be swayed; you are not on anybody's side." - it is quite right, we are not on anybody's side - "Do not be swayed by the pressure groups; do not be swayed by what the headlines might say tomorrow. The critical thing for you to do is to find out the truth and put that truth in front of the appropriate authorities, be that an inquest, be that a court, be that the disciplinary authorities." When we have done that, on each occasion we have done that, when the evidence has been tested in legal forums the conclusions of our investigations have been supported and the consequence of that, what that then achieves may not help things for those particular families but what it does do is make it less likely that those things will happen again. When I started at the IPCC---

Q64 Chairman: Can you---

Mr Hardwick: We have heard from---

Q65 Chairman: With the greatest of respect, we will hear your case. You should not take this personally; this is a Parliamentary Committee; you have appeared before it before and many colleagues will have questions for you, so do not worry as we will cover everything. Can I ask a specific question about the Public Accounts Committee recommendation to you in March 2009, when it said that your organisation did not possess the mechanisms to monitor how its recommendations were implemented and to measure its wider impact in police work. Can you assure this Committee that those mechanisms are now in place?

Mr Hardwick: That is a very difficult thing to do, Chairman. I can certainly assure the Committee that we have made considerable progress in that. Of course, part of what John was saying is that it is a complex business working out the effectiveness of the complaints system and you have to be very careful you do not have unintended consequences in what you do; so it is a complex business to do that. What we have tried to do is identify, both at an independent force level for the IPCC and nationally, a consistent, rounded set of measures that give us a complete picture of how things are working. That includes the views of complainants, that includes the views of police officers and it also looks at the hard evidence of the outcomes of complaints.

Q66 Chairman: Irrespective of the detail of the particular issues, which we will explore now, when you came to the job in 2002 you came with a very high reputation, having led the Refugee Council. It must be a bit of a concern to you that the very people who were praising the appointment of Nick Hardwick to this post are now possibly not lamenting it but disappointed that maybe it did not meet the expectations that were required. Does that concern you?

Mr Hardwick: As I recall, some of those people were not overjoyed by what I did at the Refugee Council, so you get used to it. What I would say is that I have done what Parliament asked me to do. People are more confident in the complaints system than they have ever been before. There is greater access to the system than ever before. It is more transparent. We have cut the numbers of deaths in custody. Of course there is more to do, but I am very proud of what we have achieved; I am very proud of the people who work for it. I am not complacent, there is more to do but I am happy to come here and defend that.

Q67 Gwyn Prosser: Mr Hardwick, it must have been very hard, I would think - even though, as the Chairman said, these are not personal remarks - to sit through the evidence from Ms Rigg and from Mr Crawley. You have given a defence that the structure was what Parliament wanted and you were doing the best that could be done with it, but surely amongst the almost catalogue, I would say, of criticisms coming from John Crawley, there must be some of those which chime. Do you have any view of going back to ministers and saying, "Look, there is a better way to do this"?

Mr Hardwick: Of course. I feel the same now about John as I did when he worked for us. I agree - and I think he said that I enjoyed discussing these issues with him and I never tried to stop him - with some of what he said; I disagree with other bits of what he said. On the whole his broad conclusions were not supported by his colleagues and he left two years ago and things have moved on a lot since then.

Q68 Chairman: For the better?

Mr Hardwick: Absolutely. Let me give you a couple of examples where things have changed, and these are areas where I agree with John. One of the problems - and this is what you were saying, Chairman, and I agree with this - with the police complaints system is that a complaint is defined in terms of the conduct of an individual officer. Unlike any other complaint system the question that Parliament asks us to answer is not, "Has this member of the public received a proper service and, if not, how can we put things right?" the question you ask me to answer is, "Has this officer committed misconduct and, if so, how should they be punished?" The system is all about the officer, it is not about the complainant. One of the things that we are doing that we persuaded - it has not been an easy thing to do - the police service to accept, we persuaded the Home Office to accept, is that now what this will do is to say, first of all, not is the allegation against the individual officer substantiated but is the complaint upheld? Is this a justified complaint? Does this member of the public have cause for concern? Then go on to look at whether there is an individual officer at fault. At the moment, as John said, if you are substantiating only 10% of allegations against individuals people will interpret that as, "We do not believe you, we do not accept it is a problem." What we want to do is acknowledge better, apologise - particularly on these low level things - when something has gone wrong and then say, as you said, "Is there a case to answer against an individual officer and how should that be dealt with?" I think that would be a big improvement. We have introduced a system now of doing detailed hands-on assessments before we decide to take a case. Of course deaths are important but we try to be more sophisticated about how we use our resources. The numbers of appeals we uphold is 33% now. I went back to look at some of John's figures, I have not seen his submission, I have to say; we were not given an opportunity to do that so I am at a bit of a disadvantage here. If you look at John's cases and his substantiation rates and his appeal rates, they were no different from his colleagues, and he is not, as you have heard, easily put upon. It is a problem that we all have to address over time: shifting a system, shifting a culture is not a straightforward thing to do. It needs determined effort over a period of time and I think we have made improvements.

Q69 Mr Streeter: We were talking earlier about one of the roles of the IPCC possibly is to persuade and encourage police forces to be better at handling their own complaints so that there are fewer complaints rising to your august level. What are you doing about that?

Mr Hardwick: Absolutely that is right. Half of all complaints are about what is called in the jargon incivility or other neglect of duty - in plain language, rude, late and poor service. We know a lot about who makes complaints; the biggest categories of complainants are white men over 35 in non-manual occupations who have a good opinion of the police. So I say to police audiences - I have been this week - "Look, these are your friends telling you that the service they are getting is not good enough." The way to deal with that - and this is where I may disagree with John - is not some outside body from London coming in and sorting it out. The most effective way to deal with a PC or PCO who has provided a poor service is their supervisor, their sergeant or their inspector saying to them, "This is not an acceptable performance or standard of conduct for people who work for me." That is not some great boss sitting outside here - "You work for me; what you have done is not acceptable, I expect that to improve." If you can get that happening; if you could hold the supervisors and inspectors accountable for delivering that, accountable for the performance of the people they are responsible for managing then that is the way to get the kind of cultural changes we have talked about. John said we spend a lot of time talking to the police; I do spend a lot of time talking to the police, trying to persuade them exactly that. A critical responsibility of supervisors and managers, inspectors and sergeants, should be precisely to get that conduct correct. Not to go into defence mode but to say, "Yes, there is a problem here; how do we put it right?"

Q70 Mr Streeter: You are talking as though you have just taken over the job but you have been at it for eight years and it has been in existence for six years - I do not quite understand that, but never mind. Why has this not improved? Who are you saying these things to? Are you speaking to the Home Secretary? Are you speaking to ACPO?

Mr Hardwick: Yes, yes, yes.

Q71 Mr Streeter: Why is it not changing?

Mr Hardwick: It has changed. I do think that the increase in complaints is a sign of people's greater confidence on the ground about the system; you can see that in the MORI opinion polls about people's view of us. I do think that has changed.

Q72 Chairman: Mr Hardwick, do you think it would be better if, for example, the NPIA was to be involved in this process - the police improvement organisation? Do you meet with Peter Neyroud?

Mr Hardwick: Yes, I do.

Q73 Chairman: Is this something that he could be involved in because you cannot spend your time telling the police how to get their complaints system working.

Mr Hardwick: Part of our duty, the duty that Parliament gave us, is to increase public confidence as a whole in the complaints system; not just those bits we deal with directly but the system as a whole.

Q74 Chairman: But the trouble is the survey says - to quote the game show - 80% who deal with you are dissatisfied.

Mr Hardwick: That is of the most serious cases that were dealt with by us. Those are not typical. John is right, I think, to make a distinction between the most serious cases that involve death and all the emotion and awfulness that we heard about.

Q75 Chairman: And all the others.

Mr Hardwick: We know, for instance, one of the things that people say to us - we have done a lot of work on this - that for the lower level complaints what people want is an apology, an explanation or a reassurance the same thing will not happen again; only a minority are looking for an officer to be sanctioned. The problem is that the only legislative tool in the box is a decision about whether an officer should be sanctioned. Partly what we try to do is to force the system a bit in a different direction so that the system focuses on saying, "Look, if you are not happy what can we do to put this right?"

Chairman: I know you are very keen to get your arguments across but all my colleagues have these points in mind. Martin Salter.

Q76 Martin Salter: Mr Hardwick, I am looking at - I do not know if you have seen it - the spread of regional variation in complaints and it really is quite marked. It goes from Staffordshire where there was a percentage change of complainants by force between 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 at minus 24% to a plus 46% in Lincolnshire. This is quite a staggering range. Can you give us an idea as to what factors might be in play here, as to why we are looking at those figures?

Mr Hardwick: As I have said, I am at a disadvantage in that I have not seen this paper and was not told about its existence and so have not seen the figures in it.

Q77 Martin Salter: Hang on, this is not John Crawley's paper; this is a briefing to the Committee. For goodness sake, you must know the ratio.

Mr Hardwick: Obviously I do not know the precise figures to which you refer - that is what I am saying. I can answer your point about variation.

Q78 Martin Salter: These are your figures.

Mr Hardwick: If I could just have a copy then I would know what you are looking at and would be able to answer you.

Martin Salter: Here you are; they are your figures.

Chairman: They are your figures.

Q79 Martin Salter: You are not at a disadvantage.

Mr Hardwick: I was not quite sure to what you were referring, but now I have it. Of course, yes, I can explain, if you are talking about the numbers of complaints that will reflect changes we are trying to get them to make to a recording system. So part of the reasons for the numbers of complaints will be that forces are responsible for recording complaints. One of the things that we have tried to get them to do is to improve their recording systems so that complaints are recorded on a consistent basis, and as forces do that and comply with our request on that and the system becomes more accessible you will get variations in figures like that. I think that is one of the reasons; that is partly what accounts for the difference. Also, you will get differences because there will be differences between the big urban forces and between the rural forces; there will be differences between how proactive forces are about trying to nip things in the bud and sort them out before they become a formal complaint. Some of these things would be about the system settling down as we shift it, to try and make it more accessible and that is that process going on.

Q80 Mrs Cryer: Mr Hardwick, according to your Annual Report, you have capacity for around 70 independent investigations per year, yet for the last two years you have been 50% over capacity. What impact has this had on the quality of investigations? How large an increase in funding would you require to increase capacity to around 100 independent investigations per year?

Mr Hardwick: Since we have been operational our income has gone up by 20% and our outputs on investigations and appeals have gone up by 100%. We are able to do some of that as the system settles down and becomes more efficient. We will not relent on the quality issue. The primary problem, if we get more and more work coming in, will be that it will take longer to do and that is the big problem we have to deal with now. What I would say is this - again I would agree with what John Crawley says - we have made the system more efficient within the legislative frameworks we have. If I had a shopping list the start of my shopping list would be to the legislative changes necessary to take some of the bureaucracy out of the system so that I could use the resources I have more efficiently than simply giving me more resources. I am not going to say that more resources would not be useful but I could provide a good if not better service to families, complainants and police officers with the resources I have if there was a change in some of the bureaucratic rules that were put in place that I think time has shown we do not now need until we can prove it. So that would be the top of my list.

Q81 Mrs Cryer: Can you take us through the independent investigation process and why does it take between 167 and 195 days to complete an investigation? You have just mentioned bureaucracy; is that one of the reasons?

Mr Hardwick: No, that would be more on the appeal side. Let me be clear. An investigation will normally begin when the matter is referred to us by the force concerned, so they have to do that immediately and that will normally take place within hours of the incident occurring. There are statutory requirements that forces have to abide by in terms of what they require. This is a simplified version. Normally what we will then do - now, which has changed since John Crawley's days - is we will send a small number of investigators to assess the situation, decide whether it is something we need to take, what resources we need and bring those in, and control the initial police handling of the scene and those sorts of issues. Then normally if we decide to investigate it the investigation process will take place. Often for us with critical issues, one of the reasons for delay is that you are waiting for critical expert advice on cause of death, medical issues or expert forensic analysis where we have to wait on other people to provide information to us before we can come to a conclusion. A point that has previously been well made is that we will then conclude our investigation and there is then a sequential process, that is not the end of it. Our investigation is only part of a process. What will then take place will be a trial, if there is going to be a trial or a disciplinary hearing but, critically, as you said, the inquest. The inquest is a crucial - I understand this more now than when I started - bit of the process where we will disclose all the information we have collected and our report to all the parties involved, and that then can be cross-examined in open court with everybody represented in an inquest, and that is where the family do that. So people who have concerns at this point of the investigation will say, "There are concerns." I would say to them, "You will have your opportunity in court, represented to cross-examine the way we conducted our investigation and all the evidence that we have collected," and my experience has been up to now that when we have done that that people have got the answers and when they have seen it that is the answer they want.

Q82 Mrs Cryer: Can I just mention that the first witnesses did say that their coroner's inquest has still not been concluded.

Mr Hardwick: Obviously there are two things I could just say, just to be absolutely clear so that there is no misunderstanding. The issue in the early stages of the Rigg case, about their access to their loved one, that was a matter for the coroner's officers, and we actually spent that weekend trying to get the coroner to take a more reasonable approach to that and I sympathised with them in that particular matter. Let us be clear that that was not our decision at all. On the point about the inquest, the delays in inquest are a real problem - obviously they are outside their control - and that does mean that the whole thing drags on and then of course we are the visible face of the system so people have seen the process going on for years but we have often wrapped up our bit - Rigg was particularly complex - in a short time, and then there is a long tail while you wait for the other bits of the legal process to kick in, and I think if you could fix that then that is very important.

Chairman: Mr Hardwick, it would help us enormously if you would make your answers briefer because we are going to cover all these points and you do have the opportunity, if you wish to submit written evidence to do so. I want you to feel that you have had your say, but also it is very important that we get through the business.

Q83 Mr Streeter: Mr Hardwick, you have just mentioned the Rigg case; why did your staff not interview police officers in that case for seven months?

Mr Hardwick: There are a number of reasons. This is complex. There are a number of reasons.

Q84 Chairman: Just give us the reasons.

Mr Hardwick: I will give you the reasons. There is a limit to what I can say about the Rigg case, precisely because this is part of the evidence that relates to the evidence that we heard at the inquest that we had been asked by the coroner not to disclose. I can give you two general points.

Q85 Chairman: Give us the facts.

Mr Hardwick: I am giving you the facts, Chairman. The first point is that we will decide when to interview someone on whether we are going to treat them as a witness or a suspect, and the second issue is of course sometimes we need to interview someone very quickly to get urgent information from them but on other occasions, like your questions of me, we will want to do that at the end of the process when we have gathered in all the other evidence and information from everybody that we then want to put to the officer at the end of the process, as happened here.

Q86 Mr Streeter: Seven months - I cannot remember what I did last week. The sooner you get to people to ask them what happened the better evidence you will get.

Mr Hardwick: No. Officers have to make an initial statement but if we are questioning people we need to know whether we are questioning them as a witness or as a suspect and that will often depend on the medical reports we get back, and we have to wait for those.

Q87 Mr Clappison: You say that officers give a statement but there will not be questioning as part of that statement; you will not ask them questions as either a witness or a suspect until months later. Whether you are doing one or the other is it not equally the case for both of them that people will just turn round and say, "I cannot remember that detail after this length of time"?

Mr Hardwick: People manage. There will be occasions when what we need to do is put to the officers in its entirety the evidence we have that might be about our concerns or about what has happened, and it would not get at the truth or provide us with the answers if we were to do that piecemeal. Sometimes you want to do that at an early stage; on other occasions you want to put the case and concerns to the officer at the end of the process.

Q88 Mr Clappison: If somebody knows what they know you can ask them to determine what they know and if later facts contradict what they say that they know you can put those facts to them and ask them again.

Mr Hardwick: There are problems about going backwards and forwards to officers if new facts emerge. Obviously I am not a professional interviewer, but I have talked a lot to our investigators about this precisely because in relation to this case - and precisely because this is a question that is put to us - there will be occasions when the best way of getting the officers' explanation of what they have done and why is to put the evidence that we have collected in its entirety to them at the end of the process.

Q89 Chairman: The Committee understands that. You have mentioned sometimes that the police are in a position where it is better for them to just say sorry and to move on and to learn from their mistakes - people are not after scalps particularly, they are after a change in the system. Are you in a position to tell us how many times the IPCC may have said, "I am sorry; we have got this wrong"?

Mr Hardwick: I cannot give you a detailed answer but I certainly would say that.

Q90 Chairman: You have said it in the past?

Mr Hardwick: I can certainly say that. I was quoted the other day in the paper where I do think we made a mistake, in the case of Shauna Bailey I think we made a mistake in that case and I said it then.

Q91 Mr Winnick: Mr Hardwick, do you feel that the police are very concerned about your organisation, or do they see it as a safety valve; that if people are not satisfied then they say "Go and see the IPCC"?

Mr Hardwick: As Mr Davies was saying, if you look at some of the comments that are made, people do not see us as a safety valve. Different police officers will take a different view; some police officers and some senior staff will see us as an important and productive part of the process and welcome our presence, others will be hostile. It depends a bit about how we might be dealing with them at particular times and I think there would be different views about that.

Q92 Mr Winnick: How many recommendations were made for instance last year that officers should be disciplined?

Mr Hardwick: I cannot give you the figures.

Q93 Mr Winnick: If you are writing to us - which I am sure the Chairman would like you to do - could you give us for the last five years? Also how many of those recommendations were accepted by the tribunal?

Mr Hardwick: On officers, we do not make recommendations about the discipline of those precise recommendations; what we will do is we will say that there is a case to answer that on some occasion needs to be heard by a tribunal. But we are not judge and jury; we do not say what we think a sentence should be.

Chairman: If you could write to the Committee by noon on Thursday with the figures for the last five years.

Mr Winnick: And what was the outcome of those cases by the tribunal.

Chairman: That would be very helpful.

Q94 Mrs Dean: I presume you cannot answer to say how many recommendations were made to suspend officers either. Could you also let us know any details about that, please?

Mr Hardwick: We do not make recommendations to suspend officers; that is a job for the management of the force. We have to be consulted about the suspension of an officer but we do not make recommendations as such.

Q95 Mrs Dean: Would you know, following your investigations, how many officers were suspended? Would you have that information?

Mr Hardwick: We could probably find some information. I do not know whether we collect that information centrally about officers that are suspended, I would have to go and find out.

Chairman: I am sure that would be of great interest to the Committee if you could add to that to the shopping list we have given you because obviously when we are producing a report we need facts and figures and you are the organisation that would, in principle, have those facts and figures.

Q96 David Davies: Mr Hardwick, a lot of the questioning has been from the point of view of complainants who feel that the IPCC has not done a good job, but you must be aware that actually a lot of police officers are similarly critical of the IPCC and the complaints are along the same lines as the complainants, that it takes months and months, if not years sometimes, to sort out what appear to be fairly straightforward allegations about police officers whose careers are put on hold and who are unable to transfer into other forces while they are waiting for the IPCC to solve those problems. What would you say to the police officers who are also equally if not more critical about the IPCC than members of the public complaining about the police?

Mr Hardwick: Of course, most complaints are dealt with by forces themselves, as we have heard. We would certainly recognise that when we are investigating an officer it is a stressful matter for them. Sometimes the delays occur because we have taken time to get the cooperation we need from the officers and so they have to share some responsibility for that. What I say is that however you cook the system, whatever you do with the system or however you organise it, this is going to be a very difficult experience for the families; it is going to be a very difficult experience for the officers involved. I do not envisage a system where people are going to be hanging out the flags saying what a great job the IPCC has done in these situations. It is not going to be like that.

Q97 Chairman: Final question from me. On Radio 4 on 19 January 2010 you told the BBC - and I quote - "I would say that we have cut the numbers of deaths in police custody by half." What is the proof that there is a direct link between the existence of the IPCC and the number of reductions of the deaths in police custody?

Mr Hardwick: It is certainly the case that since the IPCC has been in existence the numbers of deaths in police custody has reduced from 36 to 16 and it has reduced each year. Certainly the feedback we get from the police themselves is that our work on that has been a major contribution to that.

Q98 Chairman: How do you know that it is the IPCC that has cut deaths?

Mr Hardwick: Of course, that was an edited version; I think what I said was---

Q99 Chairman: That was a direct quote, Mr Hardwick.

Mr Hardwick: What I said in the course of a longer discussion with the interviewer was that I thought that we had made a significant contribution to the reduction in deaths in police custody.

Q100 Chairman: What is the linkage? We have had a Labour Government for eight years, the Home Secretary has not jumped up and said that as a result of him being the Home Secretary and having a Labour Government there has been a reduction.

Mr Hardwick: We are doing some further research, to try and answer that precise point. The reason for my saying that is because the feedback we have had from the police is that it is the recommendations that we have made that have gradually led to the small change, partly, of course not just us; I am not saying that, that would be a silly thing to say, of course it is the officers on the ground. We have made a significant contribution to some of the small improvements in the care of often very vulnerable people that in the end has reduced the numbers of deaths.

Q101 Chairman: Have you had feedback from the police either oral in writing to say that it is the existence of the IPCC that has led the police to reduce the numbers of deaths in custody?

Mr Hardwick: We have had feedback that we have made a significant contribution to that.

Chairman: Mr Hardwick, thank you very much for giving evidence today. We are most grateful. As you said, it was your suggestion that we should look at this particular subject and you have offered to come and give evidence and we are extremely grateful to you. We would be most grateful to have that letter by noon on Thursday.