Home AffairsWritten evidence submitted by the National Policing Improvement Agency [IPCC 24]

The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Home Affairs Committee Inquiry on the future of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), as the NPIA and the IPCC are close working partners, particularly in the development and sharing of evidence-based practice and priorities and influencing standards across the police service.

1. With reference to the inquiry’s Terms of Reference, the Agency’s interests fits mainly within the consideration of: “whether investigation leads to improvement in police practice”.

2. This evidence refers both to current relationships between the IPCC and the NPIA and the potential relationships between the IPCC and the new professional body that will receive many relevant functions from the NPIA.

3. The NPIA is a member of the IPCC’s multi-agency Learning the Lessons Committee that disseminates and promotes learning across the police service. The Committee has fostered closer and more effective relationships between IPCC (investigators), policy makers and practitioners with:

lessons from investigations being fed back into police practice, systems and processes;

a more evidence-based approach being taken to the creation of police practice; and

better policing outcomes and interactions with the public.

4. A good recent example of joint working is the IPCC’s contribution to the new “Detention and Custody Authorised Professional Practice”, developed by the Agency, with ACPO. This has been informed by recommendations arising from IPCC investigations and appeals and its “Study of Deaths in or following police custody”.

5. Authorised Professional Practice (APP) is the body of consolidated guidance for policing which will be available to forces from Summer 2012. APP will reduce significantly the amount of national guidance in circulation, encourage the use of professional discretion and bring consistency to all authorised police practice. The first release of APP will take place in July 2012 and will include all of the “Core Practice” or cross-cutting areas and ten Specific Practice areas, where additional standards and/or practice are needed for reasons of high risk, interoperability and partnership working and particularly those areas included in the Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR).

6. ACPO is responsible for overseeing the APP Programme in partnership with the NPIA. The Programme is governed by a Professional Practice Steering Group (chaired by the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police and ACPO Vice President, Sara Thornton). The IPCC is represented on this Group by their Deputy Chair.

7. The future creation/revision of APP will be dependent on an evidence-based approach to “what works” and what practitioners need and that will require the continuing input of the IPCC as APP transfers to the new police professional body.

8. At the same time, the Agency looks to the IPCC to make the best use of the policing evidence base, practice and research in reaching its findings and developing recommendations, without prejudicing its independence. Again, this aim will transfer to the new body.

9. The IPCC could make a major contribution to policing practice by coding common contributory factors to adverse police events, to highlight national priorities for improvement. There is ongoing work in the police service in this area, specifically focused on Violence and Public Protection, of which IPCC is aware. The approach is in line with that proposed by Professor Eileen Munro, a year on from her landmark review of Child Protection:

http://www.education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/healthandwellbeing/safeguardingchildren/a00209245/munro-progress

10. Taking a “human factors” approach suggests that the focus of investigation should be on where in a system the causal factors seem to lie, rather than on the actions of specific individuals. In general terms, problem-solving approaches have been found to be successful in addressing crime reduction and also in organisational change. Similar approaches are equally appropriate to performance or structural issues in terms of identifying factors which lead to adverse police events.

11. It is important that, in the new policing landscape, following the close-down of the NPIA, the work of the Learning the Lessons Committee continues and a constructive relationship is built between the IPCC and the new policing professional body that will be responsible for setting standards across policing as well as developing the evidence-base and professional practice.

12. There is nothing in the evidence that is confidential and I am content for it to be published on the HAC website.

Nick Gargan
Chief Constable
Chief Executive, The National Policing Improvement Agency

July 2012

Prepared 1st February 2013