Home AffairsWritten evidence submitted by Keith Cornwall [IPCC 30]

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly: Luther King 1963.

I recently wrote to you via email with an attachment of my latest letter to the police Borough Commander, David Chinchen. I am not sure if it reached you. I will write to you again detailing how a subservient culture to the police exists within the IPCC, and that culture is in some part engaged in serious illegal activities. Before my case was heard at the IPCC I was already making complaints about certain officials there, so it is not out of bitterness that I seek to highlight the wrongs—and I have absolute evidence that a crime of perverting the course of justice took place. This is merely the prelude to the prelude and you haven’t seen the prelude yet.

There was enough evidence of a police smear campaign against me and the doctoring of evidence in a file sent to the IPCC from Wandsworth police. Senior officials of the IPCC decided to suppress important documental evidence instead of doing their legal and civic duty of forwarding the evidence of serious corrupt practices to the Met Commissioner or an outside force for further examination. Their actions or non actions afforded police officers more time and opportunities to continue inserting material into records held on file about me they knew to be incorrect—and we’ve barely scratched the surface. I have key witnesses that can substantiate my evidence; the Local Government Ombudsman, the Borough Commander, the Information Commissioner and others. Long before I received further written evidence from the IPCC under a data request, which I made because of my concerns for the integrity of police files, I wrote to the aforementioned to highlight my concerns. I spoke with them at length about a ferocious smear campaign against me that certain police officers were engaged in; trying to portray me as a Walter Mitty character. The IPCC knew of my concerns and ignored them. Even with the evidence before them, the senior Caseworker and the Director of Casework main obligation was to protect these police officers. They chose to yield to the racial stereotypes—and I believe aided and abetted serious crimes.

It is a crime to pervert the course of justice. It is a crime to suppress evidence. The IPCC had evidence in its domain of serious police evidence tampering and covered up that evidence. A senior casework manager had ample opportunity to forward my case to the Commissioners for consideration for a proper investigation. Instead he and the Director of Casework attempted and temporarily closed down my case to help the police. I can put these allegations in writing because I have the evidence and witnesses to prove my case and to bring officers and those willing to protect them to justice. Now that I have put my allegations in writing, if the people named believe there is no evidence against them, I would’ve committed what I am accusing the police of doing, and I would be a prime target for libel action.

I listened to Dame Anne give evidence at a previous session. Her key reason for taking up the post is laudable, but I still cannot work out why a woman of her quality would want to be any where in close proximity to an organization with such a bad reputation.

At some stage there should be an end to the appeals process, but there should also be a mechanism within the structure to challenge appeal decisions at least once. We have a perfect example of a properly structured independent organization—the IRS—soon to be wound up in the government’s drive to cut public spending. Pauline Adey is the manager of that organization, built in the same fashion as Dame Anne—and it is to this structure that we should look to for a perfect example of how a future independent police complaints body should be. There is no future for the IPCC in its currents form. The public do not trust it—and Jane Furniss is certainly not the person to instill any level of confidence. In my opinion she is the George Entwhistle of an extremely flawed concept. The IPCC is more supporting of the police than the PCA it replaced—and it is the public belief that it is the police investigating the police again.

Pauline Adey is a person with the right qualities and temperament to have a major role in the formulation of the new body. She is dedicated, trustworthy and reliable. I am convinced that she would bring a level of public confidence in a new complaints system working with Dame Anne. She keeps a keen ear to the ground and is concerned about the reputation of the body she is responsible for. Equality and public confidence are her priorities—and what sets her apart from any manager at that level is her willingness to take the occasional telephone call from members of the public to hear firsthand their concerns. She will listen to constructive criticism with the aim to improve her services. I personally would want such a person in the new body. I have spoken with her on two or three occasions. You simply cannot ignore what she represents. I will be writing to the relevant ministers to consider her in any future reforms of the police complaints system.

Given the fact that People-of-colour are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, there is simply no recognition within the structures of the IPCC of that fact—and that a significant number of cases/appeals brought to it are innocent black victims of the unspeakable horrors of a new police brutality.

Law-abiding people-of-colour, businessmen and woman, community workers with no criminal past, are finding themselves victims of police harassment and illegal activities in their late thirties and forties—and I have become a victim twice in the past eight years to such police conduct. The IPCC holds no fear for the police. There is a network of police officers in the Met that is completely out of control and the IPCC is subservient to the type of conduct that the Hillsborough report highlighted—and we’ve barely scratched the surface. The structure of the IPCC is made up of people who have spent their adult working life wedded to such institutions. Many of them would starve themselves to protect what they hold dear.

Jane Furniss is so distant from the realities of complainant appeals that she is failing the public in producing an independent body that we can have any level of confidence in. In comparison there is Dame Anne, recently appointed Chair—a person of great quality, and with the ability that one can have faith in to change the workings of the IPCC. Within weeks of her being in her new role she was prepared to give evidence at the Committee.

Tough and courageous decisions need to be made now about the creation of a new and properly structured body that is truly independent of the police. Such a structure must be absolutely free of former police officers and people who have close association with the police—people who once worked in Customs and Excise. This ridiculous notion that there should be police officers in an independent complaints body for it to function with some knowledge of police procedure is the problem that is driving the problem. With the right training and dedication we can have an authority that can function without any police influence. It is time to have a grown-up complaints system that the public can have confidence in. I have four brothers. Having them serve on a panel I am making representations to would serve to effect conflict of interest claims, and they would temporarily be removed from those proceedings.

There is simply no curiosity in Jane Furniss to want to find out or address what is happening with the regular theme of appeals—and this is tantamount to a gross dereliction of duty. There have been a number of complaints about increasing police racism, the racism reemerging from the eighties—and if she isn’t forced to respond, little is said. The police, the DPS and the IPCC are deeply involved in this type of conduct, perpetuating eighties stereotypes of people-of-colour; encouraged and influenced by smear campaigns by illegal police officers. Even when presented with irrefutable evidence of corrupt practices within the police and protection given by senior police officers of the DPS, the IPCC still refuses to take racism and racial profiling seriously—simply choosing to believe what is written in police reports against the evidence which proves document tampering.

The IPCC is a failure because it was a deeply flawed concept from the naissance—and it attracts a certain mentality that is institutionalized and subservient to the police. With that comes a personal fear within the IPCC. As an individual caseworker it would not be wise to rule against the police because they may one day need the help of the police in a personal situation; and it is well known within the Met that these people would be blacklisted should officers be deeply criticized in their reports.

As much as I like and respect Dame Anne, I believe the IPCC must now be wound up and a new structure of real independence be put in place to start the rebuilding of public confidence. Dame Anne and Pauline Adey must be paid small fortunes to head the new body.

This is merely a sample of what the new structure must consist of. A more extensive version will follow:

A certain number of lay people with wide and long experience of the police and relating organizations should sit in on cases with the purpose of identifying trends in complaints and to offer practical guidance where necessary.

A mechanism should exist within its structure to challenge appeal decisions at least once, and this would avoid shoddy and laughable assessments that leads to miscarriages of justice—and which would indeed stop lazy caseworkers using judicial review as an escape route or a get out clause of their inadequate decisions. The familiar refrain, ‘if you don’t like the decision go to judicial review’, must be curtailed.

The assessment process of police investigations should consist of the opening up to the appellant of all police files forwarded, accept in cases of national security and where revealing such information would be of detriment to third parties. It is for a judge within the body and strictly for the body that an appellant can appeal to release information. The judges’ decision is final.

Currently the appellant must appeal within 28 days of a recorded decision. This should be extended to two months of that decision to give the appellant ample time to prepare a case. Given the fact that the police do not adhere to deadlines where data requests are concerned, there should be extended deadlines for an appellant to forward evidence.—and it should be extended twice by periods of two months if the police continually refuses to cooperate with such requests. After six months of non-compliance with data request, the Chief Inspector and then ultimately the Borough Commander of the region should be held to account/liable to face legal action if the information required by the appellant is not forthcoming within another period set by the body. Getting crime reports and custody records is crucial in most cases to prove that the police have followed the process of arrest and detention to the letter.

We have seen too many cases where the appellant faces time restrictions within the IPCC without the means to challenge the police tactic of stalling and the doctoring of evidence. The case is then heard by the IPCC without the appellant knowing what is written in police reports, which is a disadvantage and against the concept of openness. It is then too late for the appellant to challenge the authenticity of the records and is left with the stark option of judicial review, which is way beyond most of us—financially and physically. So that escape route so readily deployed after insufficient assessments must be closed as a matter of urgency. This must be the key element in the structure of the new body.

There should be no serving or former police officers in the new IPCC. There should be no one connected with Custom & Excise serving on this body. There should be a dedicated team of trained professionals for each region of the country; twelve good men and women trained in every aspect of policing and judicial matters. This team is directly answerable to the Chair, and ultimately to the Home Secretary. That training should start immediately so by 2015 the new structure can be up and running.

Twice a year the Chief Executive, the Chair, the Casework Directors of all the regions should attend evidence sessions in parliament to give progress reports on performance and to answer questions on general themes of complaints.

The illegal actions of some police officers are ruining the lives of law-abiding citizens; people-of-colour in particular. Their illegal actions are ruining businesses and potential careers of people who find themselves victims of this conduct. The IPCC in its current state is more concerned about allegations hanging over the police officer than the immeasurable distress police actions are having on the health and financial wellbeing of the appellant. If there are racial elements to any complaint, and it is proven that police actions against the appellant are racially motivated in any arrest and detention, the new body must have the authority to levy fines of up 10,000 and a minimum award to the appellant of 2,000 and a maximum of 10,000 according to the severity of discrimination. This will address the entry levels of racism within the Met and give the Borough and Area Commanders a sharper focus on tackling the increasing problem. There must also be stringent sanctions against any appellant who chooses to make false allegations of racial misconduct against serving police officers. If there are more than ten proven cases of serious racism within a year, a 100,000 fine should be leveled against the borough. The only sanction that will reduce the scourge of racist attitudes and conduct is the fear of financial penalties. That is the reality we should own.

The new body will have the power to compel police officers to give evidence in person within a set period. This will be a legal requirement except in cases of national security. Where the lives of third parties may be put at risk, this exemption will only apply if there are future court cases to be heard.

Every government body, legal structures, public authorities, police and independent structures are bound by the Human Rights Convention, Disability Discrimination legislation, civil rights protection, and most importantly, English Common Law. The IPCC in its current form think it is exempt from these duties when it is making potentially life-changing decisions. Every investigation and assessment carried out must come with full explanation as to whether appellant rights were breached under any or all of the aforementioned acts. This will give some guidance to the appellant when considering future actions.

If the police admit to certain procedural failures, and in cases where the detained persons’ rights to have someone informed of his/hers detention is not adhered to, it must state in the caseworker’s finding what rights under the aforementioned acts were breached and what remedies can be sought. This must be a legal requirement.

In my next letter to you I will produce tape recordings and evidence of serious police and council corruption and cover-ups by the IPCC and the DPS. This will be a signed affidavit.

Keith Cornwall

November 2012

Prepared 1st February 2013