Home AffairsJoint supplementary written evidence submitted by the Police Action Lawyers Group and INQUEST [IPCC 25a]

POLICE ACTION LAWYERS GROUP RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CHANGE AT THE IPCC

Further to the written and oral evidence provided to the Home Affairs Select Committee the Police Action Lawyers Group has drafted the following non-exhaustive list of recommendations for change at the IPCC:

(1)The IPCC should recognise that complainants and their families are “victims”.

(2)When a referral is made to the IPCC for the investigation of a “DSI” matter, IPCC investigators must assess at the outset whether officers “may have” committed criminal and/or misconduct offences. If so, the matter should be recorded as a “conduct” matter affording the investigator the power to interview officers under caution. Currently, we are seeing a propensity not to record matters as conduct matters and therefore not to interview officers under caution even where criminal or misconduct offences “may have” been committed (for example in restraint related death cases). Therefore, there should be better guidance and training so IPCC investigators are clear that they should afford themselves the power to interview officers under caution in all DSI cases except where it is “not possible” that a criminal or misconduct offence has been committed.

(3)There should be an IPCC team to attend scenes of death very quickly following police contact in order to take control of the scene and begin the process of gathering evidence. The IPCC should also take a key role in the prevention of the contamination of officers’ early accounts by preventing the officers colluding over such accounts.

(4)Commissioners should have more direction and control over investigations instead of leaving critical decision making in the hands of investigators who are often ex-police officers. This is subject to there being better accountability for those Commissioners which may be secured through Commissioners being answerable to external reference groups.

(5)There should be better IPCC systems to identify when cases must be sent urgently to the CPS to fall within statutory time limits for charging officers for summary only offences.

(6)The IPCC should instruct a broader panel of experts and all instructions to experts (including to pathologists) should be in writing.

(7)The IPCC should notify a family when a post mortem in a DSI matter is due to take place and notify them of their rights in relation to that post-mortem. If the family cannot be located then the IPCC should take on the role of ensuring that such post mortems are subject to audio/visual recording and also to ensure that an independent pathologist is instructed.

(8)The IPCC should ensure the accuracy of any statements released to the press and should also correct any misinformation in relation to an incident which has made its way into the public domain.

(9)The IPCC should not consider itself constrained by ACPO policies or guidance.

Police Action Lawyers Group and endorsed by INQUEST

December 2012

Prepared 31st January 2013