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One third of IOPC investigations take more than a year


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Investigation delays 'ruin lives and careers'.

Michael Lockwood

Michael Lockwood


Officers and complainants wait for an average of 233 working days to learn the outcome of misconduct investigations handled by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

A new report from the watchdog shows it failed to reach its target of finishing 80 per cent of investigations within 12 months.

The body did speed up its investigations by an average of three weeks in the last financial year, compared to 2016/17. 

Just 31 per cent of misconduct investigations were completed within six months with only 52 per cent being finalised in nine.

The report said: “Our target in 2017/18 was to complete 80 per cent of independent investigations within 12 months.

“This was a challenging target, given our expansion and legacy cases, and we completed 68 per cent of cases within 12 months. This is an improvement on 2016/17, when the figure was 66 per cent, and we are in a strong position to improve further in 2018/19.

“Much of our work in the year was preparing for transition to the new organisation in January.

“However, despite this, we managed to ensure continued commitment to our six strategic objectives and performed very well against all our targets. Importantly, our investigation closure rate increased by almost 60 per cent from the previous year and, for the first time since expansion in 2011/12, we closed more investigations than we opened.”

Police Federation of England and Wales misconduct lead Phill Matthews reiterated his call for the Home Office to consider a time limit for IOPC investigations, pointing out there is a six month restriction on police prosecution for summary offences.

He told Police Oracle: “In my mind this [time limits] would appear to be the best way of ensuring that investigations are prioritised and dealt with in a swift and efficient way.

“After all these are employment matters and not necessarily criminal issues.

“Under the new misconduct regulations for ex officers there is a 12-month window for bringing misconduct proceedings, so why should the IOPC be allowed to continue ad infinitum for officers still in service? When these cases drag on they ruin careers and lives.”

He added: “I do however, recognise that things are improving with the IOPC but we still have a way to go.”

At the staff association's conference in May, Home Secretary Sajid Javid pledged to take up the issue of delayed investigations with IOPC director general Michael Lockwood and “find out what can be done to bring timing of investigations down.”

Police Oracle has contacted the Home Office to ask for an update on the meeting, but had not received a reply before this article went live.

Overall, the IOPC opened 705 investigations into the most serious and sensitive matters in 2017/18. It considered 3,677 appeals about how the police handled complaints from members of the public plus 3,677 referrals from police forces.

During 2017/18 the IOPC received 476 complaints against their staff including seven about their commissioners (in post under the IOPC’s previous incarnation as the Independent Police Complaints Commission).

The IOPC upheld 31 grievances but none of the complaints about commissioners were substantiated.

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It is not acceptable to anyone except the IOPC.  The report said: “Our target in 2017/18 was to complete 80 per cent of independent investigations within 12 months."  80% is out of order so, what about the other 20%, hoe many years do they take.  Completely and uttertey unacceptable.

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