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Compromise reached on police witness duty of cooperation with watchdog


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Fed welcomes a step in the right direction over move on which it had threatened legal action.

Phill Matthews

Phill Matthews

Date - 21st August 2018
By - Ian Weinfass - Police Oracle
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A compromise appears to have been reached over a duty to cooperate with the police watchdog for officer witnesses.

Earlier this year it was revealed there were plans which could mean officers who are witnesses could face misconduct proceedings for not speaking to the Independent Office for Police Conduct at an early enough stage of an investigation.

But Police Oracle understands the new regulation is likely to use wording which implies the duty is an expectation.

Police Federation conduct lead Phill Matthews said: “Police officers will usually be expected to cooperate with investigations where they’re being treated as a witness.

“From our perspective it provides protection where they’re not required to incriminate themselves. From the IOPC perspective it means there’s an expectation officers will cooperate.

“It provides everybody with a step in the right direction.”

Mr Matthews had previously predicted legal action or withdrawn cooperation in the event that the rule had been implemented.

Chief Constable Craig Guildford, NPCC lead on misconduct, said: “I believe [the new regulation is] very positive for an individual officer who’s served with any notices because the IOPC will have to inform the officer if they are being treated as a suspect or witness.

“At the moment that happens with great infrequency. Obviously, an officer treated as a witness will be in a much better position to expeditiously respond to questions. That should speed the process up.”

CC Guildford said that moving from a witness to a suspect in an investigation would be “very exceptional” and “legally challengeable”.

He said the reform is part of “trying to achieve best possible outcome for all concerned”.

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