Home AffairsWritten evidence submitted by Patrick Allfrey [IPCC 38]

I understand that your home affairs committee is taking evidence into the way the IPCC meets the expectations of the community in respect of the duties entrusted to it by Parliament.

I am sorry to report that I am sadly disappointed by the way the Commission failed me in respect of a complaint that I submitted to the Commission. Powers granted to the Commission gave them, the authority and the right to require the police to conduct a proper investigation into any complaint submitted in respect of a police officer’s conduct. However the Commission are in some instances, allowing the police to continue as they did under the previous system.

Should the police be allowed to pick and choose whether to interview witnesses or not. In my case they refused to interview the relevant witnesses as it would possibly weaken their case. And then the Commission say why not? The witness might not have provided sufficient evidence. Matter closed.

When the criteria for judging the merit of a complaint is:

Was the complaint substantiated or unsubstantiated, the result is always going to be the same if no evidence is taken.

I am enclosing an attachment giving additional details of my specific case in the hope that you might feel the matter would merit the interest of your committee.

Memorandum

I can and do understand that the Commission are only authorised to conduct investigations themselves in certain specified circumstances. However the Commission accept that they are the authority responsible for ensuring that police investigations are conducted correctly.

In respect of my complaint the Commission have consistently maintained that they have no remit in the matter and refuse to accept that they have the right to insist that the police actually interview witnesses identified in connection with complaints.

I have been told that I could make a fresh complaint in respect of the conduct of the Police Inspector who took the decision to avoid investigating my complaint but there is little sense in adopting this approach if the Commission will not accept their ability to ensure that a complaint is actually investigated.

The Professional Standards Department to whom my complaint was referred; decided to only interview the two officers complained off since they considered that in all probability I had arranged for witness to support me rather than tell the truth.

My solicitor made a complaint on my behalf to the Chief Constable (copy enclosed {10.08.06.}) as nothing happened, I submitted my complaint direct to the IPCC.

This complaint was in connection of the perceived perjury of two police officers and the false accusation that I had altered the construction and material condition of the trailer that was the subject of my initial prosecution in the Magistrates Court.

The Commission, determined that the complaint should be investigated by the Professional Standards Department of the force involved.

The Professional Standards Department decided that a proportionate investigation should be conducted.

I was interviewed and asked to make a witness statement with the specific request to include names and addresses of others known to have knowledge in relation to the matter.

As proscribed at the conclusion of such an investigation the senior officer in charge, makes a decision as to whether the complaint is substantiated or unsubstantiated.

With respect to my complaint it is now acknowledged that the investigation did not take any evidence from any one of those witnesses or as far as is known from anyone other than those two police officers. In these circumstances it was hardly surprising that the finding was that the complaint was not substantiated.

My appeal to the IPCC against the decision of the West Mercia Constabulary was upheld and a recommendation made that the officers themselves, be given management advice. My concern was and remains that no effort had been made to investigate my complaint.

The case summary confirms that a number of witnesses had been identified and says:

Mr Allfrey had a number of persons who he says would have supported his assertions regarding the trailer bed and there is no doubt that each would say that at some stage they have seen an aluminium bed of some description on Mr Allfrey’s trailer.

The Case summary was almost entirely related to the officers evidence that they had given to the Magistrates and did not indicate that any serious attempt had been made to look into or address the complaint itself or the condition of the car or the trailer.

In my case the Commission took the view that it was perfectly proper for the police to decline to interview witnesses as they might not be able to provide sufficient evidence.

The terms used by the Commissioner were:

“The decision made on the case indicated that the additional witnesses Mr Allfrey identified may not have provided sufficient evidence to support his allegations.”

These were the same witnesses referred to in the enclosed letter of the 10 August 2006 to the Chief Constable of the West Mercia Constabulary.

In recent months I have been led to believe that the Statutory responsibility of the IPCC is to increase public confidence in the police complaints system.

This is a long way off, the unambiguous claim, “IPCC stands for Independent Police Complaints Commission. We are responsible for the way complaints about the police are handled.”

It poses the question do the IPCC have a duty to ensure that complaints are fairly dealt with?

The officers I complained about gave untruthful evidence in court and I was found guilty of a traffic offence. For the purposes of my appeal against this conviction an expert witness was appointed to examine and provide a report on the condition of the trailer, the use of which gave rise to the alleged offence for which I had been convicted.

This report was correctly served on the CPS, who passed it onto the police. The report was unambiguous and as a result of its content the officers involved then alleged that I had altered the condition and structure of the trailer in order to obtain an acquittal.

For unspecified reasons the CPS failed to consider the report themselves and when it came to trial they applied for an adjournment. The judge refused to grant an adjournment where upon the CPS withdrew. As a result the Judge allowed my appeal, so the fine and conviction were set aside.

Leaving the allegation that I had altered the evidence in order to pervert the course of justice unresolved.

In the light of the recent The Report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel it would appear that some police officers can be persuaded to alter evidence.

The IPPC have in existence procedures or standards for determining their judgement in relation to appeals that are made to them.

With respect to a case where the Police Force found a complaint to be unsubstantiated.

These are set out in the IPCC’s Casework Manual.

Where at 6.1 it says:

“If the IPPC finds that the local resolution process has not been properly followed, it can give directions as to how the complaint should be handled in the future.”

In an extreme case the IPCC can insist that the complaint is investigated.

In my case the IPCC simply claimed to have no remit and have maintained this consistently to this day.

As I have said the Commissioner determined that the witnesses might not provide sufficient evidence to support an allegation.

To my knowledge, there was never any evidence to support the allegation that I had made changes to evidence, in an endeavour to pervert the course of Justice.

Or that I had conspired with others to have them give false evidence in support of my case.

How any complaint can be substantiated if the investigating authority is going to refuse to look at evidence is a mystery to me. And as to how the IPCC can claim to for-fill its remit to give the public confidence in the impartiality of the police complaints system is a total mystery.

It had never occurred to me that the practice of giving false evidence was so common within the force that my complaint did not merit a proper investigation; or that it was such a trivial matter that the IPCC would consider there was no need to take evidence.

I was quite clearly misled into believing that the Commission, replacing the Police Complaints Authority was appointed to make complaints investigation more open, timely, proportionate and fair.

You and your committee are I believe in a position to establish if the Police Reform Act of 2002 was intended to protect the public from the accepted bias in the complaints process, condoned and supported by the PCA.

Or if it was intended by those that drafted it, and members of the house that voted it through, to simply be a sticking plaster, to in-still in the majority of the populace a sense that they could trust the police complaints system.

I would be extremely grateful if you could let me know if your committee consider that the Commission has a duty of care to those that rely on it to act fairly and impartially in relation to dealing with appeals submitted to the Commission.

I can and will willingly supply any supporting documentation in my possession if it would be helpful to the committee.

December 2012

Prepared 1st February 2013