The IPCC and maintaining public confidence in the police

The recent spate of acid attacks and violent robberies committed by moped riders in the capital have prompted demands from politicians and the public that the police take urgent action to bring this problem under control.

This has led to claims from some within the police that officers' efforts are being obstructed by police regulations on pursuits and investigations into misconduct by the IPCC. This is a cynical and misleading narrative, and one which is often put forward following incidents of violent crime by those who would apparently prefer that police misconduct was not investigated at all.

A similar narrative was pushed by firearms chief Simon Chesteran in the wake of the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015. Then it was claimed that armed police would be unwilling to carry out their jobs for fear of being 'hounded' by the IPCC and at any future inquests. It was also claimed that the fear of 'being treated as criminals' was deterring officers for signing up to firearms squads.

In 2014 it was also reported that armed officers could put down their weapons en masse if the IPCC followed through on a proposal to prevent officers from conferring when writing up their witness statements following a shooting.

Statistics published by the IPCC show that in 2014-15*, 50% of the complaints referred to them were investigated, whilst 34% were handed back to the relevant police force for local resolution. Of the 31,000 complaints investigated, just 14% were upheld. These numbers certainly do not suggest that the IPCC is being in any way overzealous in their efforts to discipline officers.

A look at the statistics on deaths in police custody are far more glaring. According to INQUEST, since 1990 there have been 1616 deaths in police custody or otherwise following contact with the police, of which 67 were fatal police shootings.

Only 11 deaths in police custody or following contact with the police resulted in criminal prosecutions of officers, and of those only 3 of those arose from police shootings. Crucially, none of the officers were convicted.

It simply cannot be said that officers are routinely disciplined or prosecuted for their actions - these figures make that clear.

As for being investigated in the first place, whilst investigations may be an inconvenience to officers and police chiefs, they are a crucial element of the proud British tradition of policing by consent. Where a member of the public feels that the police have acted outside their powers the ability must be able to bring a complaint and have that complaint properly investigated. Without it, can any sort of public confidence in the police be maintained?

Spikes in violent crime such as those we have been seeing in the capital will alarm the public. However this cannot be used to justify allowing the police to operate without scrutiny or accountability.


Contact Saunders Civil Liberties Lawyers Today

Saunders Law are well-known for actions against the police and other state authorities, and take a thorough and determined approach to cases, working hard to ensure that you obtain the appropriate level of damages for the wrong that you have suffered. For more information on the above matter, speak with a member of our team to see if we can help you. Please call us today on 02076324300 or contact us via  our online enquiry form.

*complaint outcomes for 2015-16 were not published by the IPCC due to a legal ruling


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