Scrutiny Of Officers Is Important But The IOPC Needs Reform

Scrutiny of officers is important but the current accountability system isn’t working, Hampshire Police Federation has said, as it welcomed the Government’s changes to the IOPC.

On 21 March, the Government announced significant reforms to the police accountability system, promising that investigations would be sped up in order to provide “swifter clarity to both officers and victims”.

Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said he supported the update and that the accountability system had been “slow, unfair and ineffective”.

Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoë Wakefield agreed with the Commissioner, saying: “Scrutiny is really, really important. However, there does need to be a reality check, and I think there are some cases where it has gone too far.

“I understand every force’s concerns around police officers and I think that the damage that Couzens and Carrick have done to policing will be felt for many, many years to come.

“But there are definitely cases where somebody needed to take a step back and say: ‘Hang on, let’s just look at the real facts of this case. Is this what we initially thought it was, now we’ve got more information? Is this officer a concern for us or actually is there nothing here?’. I think that is probably the bit that isn’t happening. Not everything has to be treated at the most severe level.”

Lengthy timescales were another issue, Zoë said: “The impact on the officers has been huge. Many people, after a lengthy investigation, really struggle to come back to policing. And then we can lose some good officers.”

Only cases that have a reasonable prospect of conviction should be referred to criminal prosecution, the Government said, and the IOPC will be able to refer cases to the CPS earlier, to speed up the referral process. This comes after concerns that officers were losing confidence to use their powers effectively, particularly when using force.

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