Home AffairsWritten evidence submitted by Tony Wise [IPCC 16]

1. The single overarching point that I refer to the Committee in regard to the Independent Police Complaints Committee (IPCC) is a simple one; it is about consistency. I have tried to be brief and straight to the point in order not to overburden the Committee. It is vitally important that a public body such as the IPCC is seen to operate consistently at all times in relation to serious matters involving the public interest. I have provided a resume of comments, sections of reports and published announcements from the IPCC.1 For the purpose of the Committee I have dated the resume 21 June 2012. The resume outlines even very recent public comments from the IPCC in relation to corruption involving the police. In particular I refer the Committee to corruption allegations against ACPO rank officers and the claimed vital public interest in independently investigating such serious allegations. I place that resume into the context of this case that involves well evidenced allegations of corruption and collusion against Steve Finnigan, Mike Cunningham and Dave Whatton who respectively are the Chief Constables of Lancashire, Staffordshire and Cheshire. Also involved in the allegations is Miranda Carruthers-Watt the Chief Executive Officer of the Lancashire Police Authority (LPA).

2. In this case the IPCC to date appears to have ignored every single item as produced in the attached resume and is seemingly refusing to independently investigate serious corruption allegations against three currently serving Chief Constables. I only quite simply want the IPCC to live up to its promises and indeed its aspirations in relation to corruption allegations especially against the most senior officers and involve itself independently in the serious allegations. The IPCC has already failed to live up to its own promises in relation to the original investigation into Chief Constables Finnigan and Cunningham when it allowed the original investigation to be conducted totally by Dave Whatton the Chief Constable of Cheshire. Hence contradicting itself and allowing the police to investigate the police in a case involving corruption allegations against two other Chief Constables with absolutely no IPCC oversight. Indeed immediately after the investigation by Dave Whatton began Commissioner Long placed the following into the public domain on 10 May 2011 in relation to the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire and his deputy. Mr. Long is one of the Commissioners with oversight of this case in the North.

The Chief Constable and his Deputy are the two most senior officers in the force and are supposed to lead by example and set the standards for others to follow.

“The IPCC would have been failing in its duty if it had not investigated these matters after they were brought to our attention. The allegations could not pass without appropriate investigation”.

“We conducted a thorough, timely and proportionate investigation and I am proud of the work undertaken by the IPCC investigation team, lead by Senior Investigator Mike Grant”.

None of the above was applied in this case which raises a serious example of inconsistency. In any event in my view it was absolutely inevitable that the investigation by Chief Constable Whatton into his fellow Chief Constables would be flawed and unacceptable. Furthermore I was of the opinion that the IPCC was of the same view that this type of thing may happen which is why it stated on all of the occasions that it did publicly as outlined in the resume that it would independently investigate such matters. The investigation by Dave Whatton was flawed in very simplistic evidential circumstances which is why I appealed to the IPCC. But still the IPCC does not seem minded to intervene independently or otherwise in contradiction of all that it says.

3. My overarching public interest worry in this case is that the current case is unique as far as I can see as it involves no less than three currently serving Chief Constables being the subject of well evidenced corruption allegations. It also involves substantially evidenced alleged collusion involving the Chief Executive Officer of the LPA. The evidence in support of the allegations is compelling and powerful and I only wanted such serious allegations and the evidence to be considered by the IPCC fairly, without fear or favour and in the public interest. I also place my concerns into the context of the two IPCC reports into police corruption of September 2011 and 24 May 2012 and the HMIC report entitled “Without Fear or Favour”. The evidence in support of this case includes contemporaneous internal email evidence, publicly listed minutes from the LPA and an Internal Audit report that cost almost £30,000 of taxpayers’ money to produce. The evidence has never been challenged by the three Chief Constables involved and, indeed, Lancashire Constabulary included much of the same evidence into the bundle for a recent Tribunal. Therefore the force itself supports the efficacy of some of the evidence against its Chief Constable. I also have to apolgise that I wrote to Mr. Vaz on 6 February 2012 (enclosed2) raising my concerns then about the IPCC and I understand fully that the Committee cannot involve itself in individual cases. I never intended that to happen and I merely wanted to raise concerns about the IPCC with Mr. Vaz as an upstanding and thoroughly ethical Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Committee. In no way do I want the Committee to look at any factual aspect of this case during this inquiry. But the contradictions and inconsistencies raised as regards the IPCC approach to these corruption allegations involving the most senior of police officers is on the record and should be scrutinised.

4. In this case the IPCC has seemingly refused to get involved and independently investigate the serious corruption allegations in contradiction of all its public pronouncements. As far as I have researched there has never been a case before involving three currently serving Chief Constables at the same time in corruption allegations which is another factor that should reasonably militate in the direction of some kind of independent scrutiny of the allegations. The IPCC will not account for these apparent contradictions and has substantially ignored my reasonable correspondence requesting an explanation. These are attached as documents dated 24 May 2012 and 12 June 2012 (documents A, B, 1 and 2). I have no idea why the IPCC is refusing to respond properly to my correspondence when I am only asking reasonable public interest questions involving their apparent inconsistencies and contradictions. This type of reaction is not public facing and creates the impression of secrecy and lack of transparency from a vitally important public authority. I consequently have no idea how, why or when the IPCC is making its decisions in this case bearing in mind the resume as attached. I also have no idea when the IPCC will respond to my appeal as they have not contacted me once since the IPCC accepted my appeal over four months ago. I am certain, however, that they will have contacted the persons involved or their forces. In the context of the serious allegations and compelling evidence against three serving Chief Constables this is not acceptable, reasonable or amenable to the public interest.

5. The two summary points that I make to the Committee are why does the IPCC not apply their public commentary from the resume in this apparently unique case and why will they not respond properly to documents A, B, 1 and 2? Their present conduct contradicts each and every one of their public pronouncements and even the recent public comments of their new Chair Dame Anne Owers made in the press release accompanying the corruption report of 24 May 2012. The IPCC constantly espouses the vital public interest in investigating corruption allegations against the police and particularly against ACPO rank officers. However in this case the IPCC has been in possession of an appeal involving well evidenced corruption allegations against three serving Chief Constables and has done nothing to date apart from ignoring my requests for a reasonable explanation of this occurrence. At the outset I only wanted a reasonable investigation that considered the available evidence in an independent, objective and fair way. I have never got this via the “police investigating the police” and I feel that the IPCC has a public interest obligation to involve itself in this case purely based on what it has regularly stated publicly. Seemingly it will nor or does not intend to live up to its public promises in this case.

6. In relation to all of the above I fear that the IPCC actually assists in making the complaints system against Chief Officers demonstrably less fair. The police complaints system is not a level playing field as regards public complaints against the police especially in relation to the most senior officers. In my experience it is virtually impossible to require the IPCC to independently investigate even serious and well evidenced allegations against ACPO rank officers whatever the standard of evidence in support. The higher the rank of the officer the bigger the gradient becomes. It is not possible in my experience to get the police to investigate these types of case appropriately or fairly whatever the evidence. Then when a citizen approaches the IPCC for some independent oversight it blatantly ignores its own pronouncements from the attached resume whilst at the same time ignoring correspondence requesting a reasonable explanation of this.

7. In summary the IPCC is to date substantially ignoring my reasonable requests asking them to account for the departure in this case from its own numerous public pronouncements. The case involves corruption allegations against three currently serving Chief Constables and the available contemporaneous and other evidence is strong. For the last four months I have heard not one word from the IPCC and have no idea what is happening with the appeal, my complaints or most vitally the powerful evidence in support of this case. Of course this also involves the IPCC ignoring reasonable requests for information related to perceived contradictions. I hope that the Committee will consider these serious anomalies and the contradictions from the IPCC that I raise in this case. If this is how the IPCC really operates in relation to vital public interest cases it is very worrying to me personally. I can only produce one of the relevant paragraphs from the recent IPCC police corruption report of 24 May 2012 in support.

“The public expects serious corruption to be investigated by an organisation independent of the police. The IPCC stands ready to take on more corruption cases if additional resources could be made available. Within existing resources, the IPCC will continue to conduct a small but increased number of independent investigations into corruption cases, prioritising those involving senior officers, serious criminal allegations and gross abuse of police powers”.

I am of the view that the quote as above is what I can only have reasonably expected all along from the IPCC. Now the IPCC will not even give me the common courtesy of an explanation in response to correspondence requesting an explanation for the departure from the quote as outlined above in this case. The IPCC ignored the quote above in terms of the original investigation that was passed wholly to Chief Constable Whatton. Now the IPCC is seemingly refusing to involve itself in the more serious and very well evidenced corruption allegations as brought to their attention via the appeal.

Annex

Second IPCC Police Corruption Report May 2012

PAGE 5. Nevertheless, the IPCC needs to be able to investigate cases of serious corruption—particularly those involving senior officers, serious criminal allegations and gross abuse of powers.

PAGE 8. The focus groups provided further insights. Factors that defined seriousness included: the seniority of the officer.

PAGE 10. The need for a more effective national system for handling allegations against very senior officers ie those of ACPO rank. The IPCC will work with HMIC, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the CPS to establish a more formalised and robust system for escalating such complaints.

PAGE 10. The public expects serious corruption to be investigated by an organisation independent of the police. The IPCC stands ready to take on more corruption cases if additional resources could be made available. Within existing resources, the IPCC will continue to conduct a small but increased number of independent investigations into corruption cases, prioritising those involving senior officers, serious criminal allegations and gross abuse of police powers.

PAGE 19. Seniority: the more senior the rank, the more serious the public considered the act to be.

PAGE 19. The resulting recommendations included the need for senior officers to review corporate governance arrangements to ensure that these support the values of the force, and that they themselves promote the values of the organisation through their behaviour.

PAGE 46. We therefore plan to report annually on corruption cases from 2011–12 onwards. We anticipate that such information will be vital to the Police and Crime Commissioners due to be elected during 2012 and we will want to ensure that they are able to draw on our data to inform their priorities in holding their Chief Constable to account on behalf of the public.

First IPCC Police Corruption Report September 2011

PAGE 6. During its lifetime, the Commission has received corruption referrals from a number of police forces. These have included both overt and covert referrals, further details of which are provided in the Referrals and Case Study sections of this report. More recently some of these referrals have been particularly high profile as the allegations have involved senior officers including those of the highest rank, ie Chief Constables and their deputies. Such cases are rightly viewed with considerable public concern and have tested public confidence in the police service.

Public Views on Police Corruption. Research by Solutions Research IPCC Paper 23 (May 2012)

PAGE 4. All however, would be regarded as more serious and more likely to be seen as corruption if they are found to be regular, of significant value and involving senior officers or involving several officers.

PAGE 5. Few are aware of the IPCC, but welcome its involvement, particularly for serious cases of corruption and other cases that would be inappropriate to deal with at a local level, for example if a senior officer was involved.

PAGE 9. Most expressed the opinion that serious corruption would be found “at the top” and among more senior officers, rather than the “bobby on the beat”, as there was an assumption that a degree of power is necessary for more serious corruption to occur.

PAGE 22. The seniority of the individual involved; the more senior, the more serious the public considered the act to be.

10 May 2011. Comments from Nicholas Long: Northern Commissioner

IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said: “The Chief Constable and his Deputy are the two most senior officers in the force and are supposed to lead by example and set the standards for others to follow.

“The IPCC would have been failing in its duty if it had not investigated these matters after they were brought to our attention. The allegations could not pass without appropriate investigation”.

“We conducted a thorough, timely and proportionate investigation and I am proud of the work undertaken by the IPCC investigation team, lead by Senior Investigator Mike Grant”.

16 August 2011. Further comments from Nicholas Long

The IPCC is already independently investigating an allegation that Mr Price used undue influence to have an individual appointed to a position within the police force. This investigation remains ongoing.

IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said: “I have been kept informed throughout about the ongoing investigation led by Mr Bristow into allegations of criminality and was notified at an early stage about the arrests of the Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and the member of police staff.

Allegations of corruption within a police force have a significant impact on public confidence and must be investigated thoroughly. I am confident Mr Bristow and his team are being thorough in their approach”.

“While I believe it important that the IPCC becomes involved to provide wholly independent oversight, I also believe it important that we do not do anything that might undermine the ongoing investigation. It is for this reason that I have decided it appropriate for one of our Senior Investigators to work alongside Mr Bristow with a specific focus on allegations of potential misconduct or gross misconduct.”

Statement to Leveson enquiry: Chief Constable Mike Cunningham 13 February 2012

(23) What is your view of the recommendations contained in the HMIC’s recent report “Without Fear or Favour” insofar as they concern relations between the media and the police? If you disagree with any of the findings, please explain why you disagree with the same.

Leadership has always been an important part of tackling police corruption and the service has worked hard to identify threats and put preventive measures in place. All our relationships must meet the highest standards of integrity and this review highlights the need to continue to develop safeguards and to keep pace with new developments in information technology which expand the potential for vulnerability to corruptors. Any member of staff, regardless of rank or role, who brings the service into disrepute does huge damage to staff who strive, every day, to deliver a police service with commitment and integrity.

June 2012

1 Annex.

2 Not printed.

Prepared 1st February 2013