59. Memorandum from the Police
Thank you for your letter of 21 March in which
you explain your role in seeking to "mainstream" a human
rights culture amongst public authorities. You pose a number of
questions you would like answered, regarding the work of the Police
Complaints Authority. Our answers to your questions are as follows:
1. Yes we are intimately involved in human
rights issues through our work in supervising the investigation
of and reviewing investigations into police complaints. The same
is true of the stakeholder organisations we relate to such as
the Home Office, Crown Prosecution Service, the Association of
Chief Police Officers and many other bodies we work with.
2. Yes we are interested in how the organisations
we deal with, particularly police forces, have responded to the
impact of the Human Rights Act.
3. This question is not really relevant
as we do not as yet have an inspectorial function, though the
Police Complaints Authority replacement body the Independent Police
Complaints Commission, when it is set up in 2003 will have a limited
inspectorial function of parts of the police service. No doubt
the approach of police forces to human rights issues will play
a part of that role.
4. Given the answer to question 3 above,
we do not keep any records of the performance of public authorities.
5. We may do in our relationship with police
forces as from time to time we issue reports drawing lessons from
the complaints that we have supervised or reviewed. A good example
would be the efforts we have made to work with the police service
to reduce the number of deaths of members of the public while
they are in police care or custody. We have issued three reports
with a series of recommendations of actions that police forces
can take to improve their care of detainees while in police custody.
Many of our recommendations have been implemented and the number
of deaths in police custody has reduced over a period of two years
from 65 in 1998-99 to 32 in 2000-01. This is an important issue
we are continuing to monitor and we are regularly reporting to
the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Home Office on
issues relating to the care of detainees that will ensure they
do not come to any harm.
Another example would be the recent legal case
we have been involved in Green v PCA, which involved a
judicial review of a decision by the Police Complaints Authority
not to disclose certain documents relating to an investigation
of a serious complaint which was supervised by this Authority.
Judge Moses in the High Court suggested that there should be,
in Article 2 and Article 3 complaint cases, the disclosure of
witness statements where the complainant was an eye witness to
the incident which led to the complaint. After consultation with
the Home Office, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Association
of Chief Police Officers we came to the view that the implications
of the judgment may mean that we would be less successful in ensuring
that police officers face criminal or disciplinary charges where
their conduct merited such charges, because the disclosure of
witness statements might well undermine successful criminal prosecutions
or the bringing of disciplinary charges before a disciplinary
hearing. An appeal was pursued in the Court of Appeal and recently
they gave a judgment in favour of the Police Complaints Authority,
overturning the decision of Judge Moses in the High Court.
6. We may be proactive in giving advice
to police forces as outlined in responding to the judicial review
case Green v PCA if we thought it appropriate. I would
anticipate that we would be regularly referring to human rights
issues in the Annual Report of the Authority which is widely read
in the police service and where appropriate police forces consider
what action they should take as far as the handling of appropriate
matters are concerned.
7. We are proactive in the way I have outlined
11 April 2002