1 Introduction |
1. When the public go to the police, they expect
each case to be handled quickly, honestly and professionally to
get to the bottom of the matter and ensure that justice is done.
But when the complaint is about the police, people need to be
even more sure that the truth will be told and any wrongs put
2. In many cases, people are right to look to
Chief Constables and forces' own Professional Standards Departments
for a settlementfor example, often a simple apology is
all that is needed to set right police misconduct, without tedious
and costly bureaucratic procedures. In future, people will also
look to Police and Crime Commissioners, especially where a complaint
involves a Chief Constable. It will be up to PCCs to ensure that
there is exacting public oversight of the way forces operate.
3. However, in the most serious casesthose
involving deaths in custody or police corruption for exampleit
is vital to have a body that is truly independent and competent
to get to the truth of the matter and ensure that misconduct and
criminality in the police force cannot go unpunished. After all,
this is why the IPCC was established.
4. Police officers are warranted
with powers that can strip people of their liberty, their money
and even their lives and it is vital that the public have confidence
that those powers are not abused. In this report, we conclude
that the Independent Police Complaints Commission is not yet capable
of delivering the kind of powerful, objective scrutiny that is
needed to inspire that confidence.
5. Compared with the might of
the 43 police forces in England and Wales, the IPCC is woefully
underequipped and hamstrung in achieving its original objectives.
It has neither the powers nor the resources that it needs to get
to the truth when the integrity of the police is in doubt. Smaller
even than the Professional Standards Department of the Metropolitan
Police, the Commission is not even first among equals, yet it
is meant to be the backstop of the system. It lacks the investigative
resources necessary to get to the truth; police forces are too
often left to investigate themselves; and the voice of the IPCC
does not have binding authority. The Commission must bring the
police complaints system up to scratch and the Government must
give it the powers that it needs to do so.
6. In this inquiry, we have heard evidence from
those involved in police complaints, from the IPCC and from the
police themselves. It is the first of a pair of inquiries into
police integrity and will be followed by our report on leadership
and standards in the police later in the spring.