Home AffairsWritten evidence submitted by Sara Jane Loughran [IPCC 14]

Executive Summary

1. I am Sara Jane Loughran and I am 45 years of age. I am a staff nurse at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. I am of exemplary character and until this case I had barely used the police and had not heard of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). I stress that I am not raising this matter out of dissatisfaction with my personal case. I am raising my experience as a user who sensed an overarching attitude from the IPCC that suggested that as a non police complainant my evidence was irrelevant whatever I said or provided in support of my case. Overall my involvement with the IPCC made me feel that I was a liar, ignored, worthless and even going slightly mad such was the improper treatment of the evidence. This case has made me distrust the police when I have always respected them and encouraged my four children to do precisely the same. Our experience of the IPCC has caused me and my family to resolve never to use it again as long as we live. I am not the type of person to write in this way but I feel so strongly about this matter that I feel that I have to submit my account and evidence to the Home Affairs Committee (the Committee). I feel that I have a public duty to raise this matter precisely because it demonstrates how simplistic material is skewed and disregarded in favour of the police by the IPCC. I am a senior staff nurse who had never used the IPCC before. Why they did this to me personally is a mystery. I am of the view that the problem is systemic. In concluding I never want any other person to endure what I had to at the hands of the IPCC. Accordingly I am determined to try to ensure that it never happens again to any citizen who is forced to turn to the IPCC for help.

2. My presentation to the Committee is based on my single experience of the IPCC. I will try to show the Committee how cavalier the IPCC was in relation to the eyewitness and documentary evidence that I provided in support of my very simple case. My allegations involved serious allegations of dishonesty, misconduct and conspiracy from several named police officers and was powerfully evidenced. My main concern is that the IPCC disregarded truthful written eyewitness evidence from three non-police individuals who did attend the scene in favour of untruthful evidence from one police officer who didn’t attend the scene. The police also failed to interview a fourth eyewitness who corroborated my version who had provided his details to the officers at the scene. The documentary evidence that demonstrated my assertions is simplistic but powerful. I am sharing my case and evidence as a factual example of how the IPCC disregards eyewitness and documentary proof of police misconduct.

3. My view is that the behaviour from the IPCC was so flagrant that it may be indicative of a wider problem. Indeed the evidence and facts in my case was reviewed by David Knight, Director of Casework and Customer Service (attached dated 22 March 2011) and the erroneous decisions stood. This shows, in my view that evidential problems possibly go right to the top. My experience is that the IPCC disregard evidence of whatever standard if it points to police misconduct; no matter how serious it is. Their default fallback position appears to be to highlight perceived minor “systemic failures” with no personal “blame” attached. But I had made serious allegations of personal misconduct and provided the evidence to prove this. My expectation was that this evidence would be considered appropriately without fear of favour and that the guilty would be brought reasonably to account. To my regret this never occurred at any point. My view is that the IPCC deals with this type of routine case and evidence improperly regularly with the aim of exonerating police from misconduct in such cases no matter how serious the allegations. In my view the only time that the IPCC may divert from this approach is when there is wide publicity and press or national oversight. This could explain and account for the around 80% public dissatisfaction rate with the IPCC from almost all definitive reports on IPCC performance. No other public sector organisation would survive with such consistently huge dissatisfaction ratings from users.

4. My only encounter with the IPCC resulted in me having absolutely no faith in its fairness, independence and even its probity. Since 2009–10 I have read of many other citizens who have suffered the same fate and I have total empathy with them. The incident in which I was involved caused me serious back injuries from which I still suffer to date. But to my regret the police lied about the whole scenario from start to finish and the IPCC disregarded any and all evidence that proved this. Allegations of dishonesty and even conspiracy orchestrated on the scale of this case are tantamount to corruption and the IPCC ignored the facts and evidence of this. I place my case in the context of the two IPCC corruption reports of September 2011 and May 2012 and the HMIC report “Without Fear or Favour”. The police behaviour seriously hampered my recovery and made me feel dishonest, irrelevant and slightly insane. The subsequent behaviour of the IPCC made it all much worse. I had only approached the IPCC out of desperation but ended up bewildered, distraught and shocked by their performance and unreasonable approach to the facts and evidence. Quite simply the IPCC made it appear that I was a premeditated and wilful liar.

5. I also wish to raise material that worried me as to the independence of the IPCC that they considered during the course of my case. I received this material separately via the Data Protection Act and it was never volunteered to me by the IPCC. I was mortified that the police suggested in one “confidential” and unofficial document that I was in effect a fraudster acting in collusion with my fiancé who pulled all of my strings. They suggested that I was not injured in the accident and I was merely attempting to defraud the Council who had denied liability. In another document a superintendent suggested to the IPCC that my partner was mentally ill and a vulnerable complainant. An example headed “Confidential Information” is attached (undated) from “PS 2006 Young” the investigating officer. This document is a virtual fabrication from start to finish. However I was absent from work for two years due to the extent of my back injuries and had to have a major back operation in March 2011. My worry is that at no point did the IPCC inform me of the existence of these informal and slanderous documents whilst they were dealing with my case and I have no idea what weight (if any) the IPCC attributed to the untruthful slurs as contained in them. I could easily rebut all of the police claims if I had been informed. The police misled the IPCC in stating that the Council had denied liability because of police actions. However I could have immediately produced a letter to the IPCC from my solicitor of early August 2009 whereas the Council had admitted full liability. In my single experience of the IPCC I found them to be a body that disregarded all evidence in order to skew the facts in favour of the police. This included the IPCC possibly considering untruthful assertions and opinion from the police without any recourse back to me. In my experience it is virtually impossible to get a fair, independent, reasonable and even lawful outcome from the IPCC whatever the standard of evidence that is supplied to them.

Submission

6. Can I please make it clear that the police misled me throughout the entire passage of my complaint to them? All the examples are too numerous and I don’t want to over burden the Committee when it has more important matters than this to consider. However the IPCC allowed the police to escape at each and every stage whether it was via disregarding evidence or concocting bogus and unconvincing stories on behalf of the police. However one series of specific and premeditated lies percolated the whole affair throughout the 14 month passage of my complaint. That is that the police lied about attending the scene of the accident on foot throughout and had no equipment which is why they never breathalysed anyone involved. This single series of lies on one matter was simplistic, wilful, long term and conspiratorial. This one matter showed the attitude of the police and IPCC to police misconduct throughout. The IPCC acted improperly even in the face of powerful eyewitness and documentary evidence that proved that my allegations had substance. Documents (i) to (iv) prove that between 6 November 2009 and 22 January 2010 the police repeatedly recorded falsehoods in formal documents at a time when they knew or reasonably should have known they were false. The police later lied to the IPCC about these matters as proven by the IPCC case note dated 27 July 2010 at such time as the IPCC knew that they were lying. The complaint that I made to the IPCC dated 5 November 2009 proves that both the police and IPCC knew the full truth as early as 5 November 2009.

7. I was badly injured in an RTC with a Council lawnmower on 30 June 2009. The RTC was entirely the fault of the mower driver and the Council admitted full liability within weeks. Within seconds a marked police Vauxhall Astra (PO56 HXH) had appeared at the scene. Two male uniformed officers were in the car which parked only yards from me. They dealt with the incident and seemed like they didn’t want to be there. They immediately seemed to me to take advantage of my shock and the fact that I was alone. I had no idea why and I still don’t know why they did this. The officers promised to come to my home address in the next days to log injuries that I stressed that I had; principally to my back. At no point did they mention an ambulance, offer any medical assistance or arrange to get me home. I wasn’t happy with their attitude and conduct at the scene. I had to be almost carried home from the scene by my partner; another matter that the police lied about. However they never came to my home as promised even though we rang many times. The police claimed they lost all of the records with no explanation. Ten weeks later in September I was advised to complain to the police. On 15 October 2009 a PS Young came to my home to finalise the complaint having already investigated. He was unconvincing and only supported his officers. He was reluctant to discuss the calls that were ignored and that my injuries were never formally recorded. But when I asked for an explanation as to why nobody at the scene was breathalysed things escalated. He told me that his two officers had assured him that they had not breathalysed anyone because they were on foot patrol and hence didn’t have access to the necessary equipment which is always in a vehicle. He told me that he had investigated this matter and that is what his officers had told him and he had based his formal report on that information. I was mortified at the blatant lies that both officers had related to PS Young and the cavalier way that he initially accepted these. Even in this light his first formal report weeks later (dated 6 November 2009) contained the same lies that he then knew to be lies. My daughter Abbi also wrote a statement in regard to this meeting for the purposes of the IPCC dated 8 March 2010 as attached.

8. Naively on 15 October 2009 I was relatively unconcerned as I expected PS Young to deal with the matter because of the compelling eyewitness and other evidence against his officers. PS Young was also aware that Abbi had witnessed the latter events of the meeting on 15 October 2009. However three weeks later I had heard nothing more from PS Young or the force. Therefore I raised the matter with the IPCC on 5 November 2009 (attached). The complaint made a quite simplistic series of facts very clear. I also made it known to the police in no uncertain terms that the IPCC had been contacted. Indeed the IPCC itself sent my complaint dated 5 November 2009 to the force as proven by the IPCC letter dated 13 November 2009. Even though the IPCC were well aware of my concerns and the police knew this it did not alter the police approach in any way. This factor truly concerned me even in the months before I wrote my subsequent appeal on 12 March 2010. It appeared to me that the police knew that the IPCC were “reliable” and “compliant” which, to my cost, turned out to be the case.

9. The police were rigid about the false version of events in that the officers had been on foot patrol when they attended the scene. My fiancé made a Freedom of Information request requesting details of vehicles that had attended road traffic incidents in the Hatfield Avenue area on 30 June 2009. To our disbelief the force replied on 7 January 2010 (attached) and confirmed that a vehicle and two officers had attended the scene and supplied the vehicle registration. Two months previously I had supplied a summary of the same facts to PS Young on 15 October 2009 and to the IPCC on 5 November 2009. I also provided the police and IPCC with a witness statement from Mr Thompson dated 16 October 2009 as attached. But in the teeth of the evidence the force reported formally on 22 January 2010 (precisely as they did on 6 November 2009) that the officers had attended the scene on foot. It was impossible for this to be a mistake bearing in mind the volume of the contemporaneous evidence that I had supplied since the meeting on 15 October 2009. Not surprisingly at this point I thought that I was going slightly insane and, quite frankly, could not believe what I had witnessed from the police who I had always respected. I was really hurt by this (and the attitude of the IPCC later) because if the version of events from the police was true the only reasonable conclusion was that I was an unashamed and serial liar. This aspect was never addressed by the IPCC and I am not a liar as shown by the proven fact that I told the truth throughout.

10. Bearing in mind that I had informed the IPCC of the true version of events on 5 November 2009 and that the force was well aware of this I appealed to the IPCC on 12 March 2010. I was very confident that the police couldn’t escape account for such serial dishonesty such was the strength of the evidence in rebuttal of their version. My confidence was increased by the existence of at least six eyewitnesses and that the IPCC was independent. For my appeal I made an eyewitness statement as did my fiancé. I also requested that Mr Thompson confirm his eyewitness statement of 16 October 2009 which he did on 1 March 2010 (attached). All of the quite simplistic and contemporaneous evidence was supplied to the IPCC. The IPCC responded to my appeal on 29 July 2010 and concluded that the officers had come across the scene of the RTC whilst on foot patrol and had no equipment which is why no breathalyser was used. This was totally and utterly untrue and both the police and IPCC knew this beyond any doubt at that time. The IPCC also exonerated the police as regards every other lie that they had relayed about me. The truth of this matter is that the IPCC constructed a series of elaborate and false versions of events purely to exonerate the police from allegations of serious misconduct and wrong doing. Two examples are outlined at 11. below from their appeal response of March 2011.

11. It appears that the IPCC determined the entirely untruthful conclusion at 10. as a result of a phone conversation with PS Young on 27 July 2010. At no point did the IPCC call me or any of the other eyewitnesses who attended the scene to corroborate or contradict the police version of events from an officer who was not at the scene. The IPCC also disregarded all of the other clear and compelling evidence that confirmed that PS Young was lying. As evidence of this I have attached the IPCC case notes in 2009/020597 dated 27 July 2010. In that conversation PS Young quite simply lied to the IPCC at the same time as he (and the IPCC) knew or reasonably should have known that he was lying. Simplistic lies such as this from the police percolated the whole process from start to finish and the IPCC allowed it all to be enacted with impunity. The IPCC “explained” this orchestrated dishonesty at two points of the second appeal response. The actual explanations asserted by the IPCC were an elaborately concocted false version of events.

“Having read the clarified statements of PC Plant and PC Hadwick, and the account of PS Young, I believe that PS Young made an incorrect assumption about the reasons why a breath test was not administered. What is more, that assumption persisted, so that he also told our casework manager, when he challenged this point during the first appeal, that the officers were on foot”.

AND:

“He (Sergeant Young) would have been better advised either to probe further, or to stick to the exact facts he was given, rather than elaborate to provide a reason why the breath test was not carried out (lack of equipment because on foot), which was never given by the officers themselves. In particular, Ms Loughran states that she informed him at the meeting on 15 October 2009 that he was mistaken in this matter, yet he does not appear to have sought further clarification before completing his report on 6 November 2009.

In stating the above the IPCC disregarded all of the eyewitness and documentary evidence that I provided that contradicted this in particular i to iv and my IPCC complaint of 5 November 2009. This complaint proved that I had informed the IPCC that the officers had lied to PS Young at our meeting and that in turn I had informed PS young of this fact. And even more critically the IPCC also disregarded the contemporaneous eyewitness evidence that also contradicted the police. The two officers also altered their statements in September 2010 after having seen all of my documentary evidence. Prior to that moment both had quite simply lied to PS Young which was recorded formally in several police reports. To my disgust the IPCC allowed the two officers to rewrite history when their dishonesty and misconduct was publicly exposed.

12. Each item of evidence that I had sent to the IPCC was disregarded. This includes the eyewitness evidence, the complaint dated 5 November 2009 sent to the police on 13 November 2009 and the correct version of events that we had supplied verbally to Sergeant Young on 15 October 2009. The fact is that the police told proven lies in the investigation report dated 22 January 2010 (and 6 November 2009) which was disregarded by the IPCC. However the case note of 27 July 2010 proves beyond any doubt that the IPCC was minded to believe lies from a senior officer at such time as they knew or should have known that he was lying. In my view the unfair, unreasonable and flagrant breaches of natural justice that the facts indicate against the IPCC can be summarised as:

The IPCC disregarded the truthful eyewitness evidence of three non-police individuals who had attended the scene in favour of one police officer’s untruthful evidence who didn’t attend at the scene.

The IPCC disregarded numerous items of powerful and contemporaneous documentary evidence that I supplied in favour of unsupported and unconvincing bare assertions from the police.

The IPCC disregarded the entirely factual information from the complaint that I sent to them at an early stage dated 5 November 2009.

The IPCC disregarded the force’s formal and entirely accurate FOI response dated 7 January 2010 and Abbi’s formal statement dated 8 March 2010.

The IPCC received and maybe considered unofficial and informal police annexes, sometimes marked confidential, that contained serious and untruthful slurs in regard to our conduct. These were never referred to me by the IPCC at the time of receipt or during the consideration of my case.

The IPCC was well aware of all of the above at the time of my first appeal of 12 March 2010 and basically colluded with the police to conceal the truth throughout reporting finally in March 2011.

This was all done when the IPCC knew or reasonably should have known that the police were being dishonest throughout via incontrovertible evidence.

13. In the light of my experience I fear for any decent citizen who approaches the IPCC for help in the absence of a greater strength of eyewitness and documentary evidence that I supplied. Indeed when I showed Mr Thompson the decisions of the IPCC of 29 July 2010 he was mortified. He volunteered a third statement dated 5 August 2010 which is self explanatory (attached). This was sent to the IPCC and, once again, disregarded for the purposes of the second appeal. Even though it was clear Mr Thompson, an entirely independent eyewitness, was deeply offended by the behaviour of the IPCC they never contacted him as requested.

14. The force finally admitted that they had attended in a marked Vauxhall Astra on 26 November 2010 and that it was all a misunderstanding. The force conceded that I had been correct all along and that the officers had attended the scene in a vehicle. Their conclusions, however, disregarded that the force had been in possession of the proof of this for over a year and the fact that documents originating at the police had contained blatant lies. The second police report was published 13 months after PS Young was told the full truth at the meeting on 15 October 2009 and over a year after the IPCC was told the truth on 5 November 2009. On 22 March 2011 after a further appeal the IPCC concluded, inter alia, that at no point had any police officer or member of police staff lied in my case and it had all been a misunderstanding (impossible on the evidence). They also concluded that there had been no misconduct or any conspiracy involving any officer or member of police staff. The simplistic extrapolation of that was that I and the eyewitnesses were liars and the police were not. At that point it had taken me 18 months to see a series of conclusions that were shamelessly based on lies from the police that the IPCC knew or reasonably should have known were lies. I was totally distraught at how I had been treated. During this period I was trying to recover from my injuries and was suffering from quite serious depression. The strain of everything also caused me to have a seizure in December 2009. The subsequent behaviour of the IPCC seriously held back my recovery and rehabilitation.

15. The evidential anomalies had worsened at this point in the case. My view is that the IPCC were unconcerned about whatever lie the force relayed to them. The evidence presented in writing by PS Young to the second investigation again contained serious and quite simplistic lies. In his statement dated 28 September 2010 (attached) PS Young made it clear that he learned that the officers did attend the scene in a vehicle as a result of my appeal. This appeal was dated 12 March 2010 as outlined above at 10. In his statement PS Young categorically stated that, “Since then I have been made aware that they did have a vehicle with them at the time”. He had clearly stated that he became aware of the truth via my appeal dated 12 March 2010. The IPCC had that statement in full. Furthermore by 5 November 2009 the IPCC knew or reasonably should have known that the first time PS Young knew about the vehicle being present was at the meeting on 15 October 2009. Still this did not stop PS Young lying to the IPCC over four months after 12 March 2010 on 27 July 2010 or force the IPCC to bring him to account for this dishonesty. Instead the IPCC concocted a false version of events to explain it all away in March 2011 as outlined at 11. above. It was also proven at that time that PS Young had seen Mr Thompson’s statement dated 1 March 2010 via the police document dated 7 April 2010 (attached) signed by Kathleen Forshaw. This document refers to PS Young raising an irrelevant “mistake” from Paul’s statement in relation to “shirt colours”. However the same statement made it totally clear that Mr Thompson was an independent eyewitness at the scene, that the two officers were in a marked Astra and that they were, quite simply, not telling the truth. The IPCC disregarded the fact that PS Young admitted that he had seen Mr Thompson’s 1 March 2010 eyewitness statement sometime prior to 7 April 2010 but still allowed him to lie to them on 27 July 2010. Overall the police conspired to concoct a litany of lies and the IPCC effectively colluded in this by ignoring the facts that proved it.

16. The evidence available shows that for over a year the police conspired to fabricate and concoct all manner of lies about their actions and my conduct. But even though these lies were proven via a clear audit trail of eyewitness and written evidence that the IPCC possessed they still found totally for the police as regards this premeditated dishonesty. In light of the weight of evidence I am of the view that thousands of routine or normal complainants have no chance of achieving proper or fair redress against the police from the IPCC. It may be different as regards high profile cases with wider press or national scrutiny. But routine complainants without this type of press or other oversight, in my view, have no chance whatsoever against the police via the IPCC. This is my certain view of the IPCC based on the experience of my case. In consequence I firmly believe that it is my public duty to raise their real-time conduct with the Committee via indisputable evidence.

17. In conclusion I can see no way apart from radical reform that will improve the IPCC. Though this case has caused me distress and pain it is nowhere near as serious or distressing as some encountered by other individuals. But the way the IPCC dealt with the evidence in my case is applicable to all cases. If that happened in reality in other cases it is totally unfair to every citizen who uses the IPCC and disastrous for the more distressing examples. In my case the evidence of the wilful deceit from the police was simplistic and powerful. This made no difference and it appeared to me that the IPCC was determined to exonerate the police from misconduct no matter what the evidence. This cannot be proper, appropriate, reasonable or lawful in any case. There can be no effective quality control or proper governance in existence at the IPCC even in circumstances that are so important to individual citizens. The IPCC in my experience totally fail in their most important statutory purpose to increase public confidence in the police complaints system. In fact by their actions they achieve the precise opposite.

I make this submission to the best of my knowledge and belief.

Sara Jane Loughran

June 2012

[Committee Note: The papers attached to this submission and mentioned throughout are not being printed.]

Prepared 1st February 2013