The new body which is being established to investigate complaints against police forces across England and Wales must make it a priority to do so rigorously and openly if public confidence in the system is to improve.
Through our work representing families and individuals who feel let down by the police, our team at Hudgell Solicitors knows that many believe police forces and officers are not held accountable enough for their actions and failings.
They become frustrated with a perceived lack of progress into complaints and often feel there is simply not enough determination or desire to get to the bottom of exactly what happened in their case.
It is why they turn to us for legal support.
The replacement of the old Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) with the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is a chance to review how such investigations are conducted, and identify how improvements can be made.
Policing Minister Nick Hurd says the government is determined it will improve confidence in policing, saying the aim is to make it “simpler and more transparent”, and to speed up the process.
That is all well and good, but investigations that are simple and transparent are the two minimum requirements families should expect.
Speedy investigations welcomed, but thoroughness and answers are priority
Speed is appreciated – and a lack of clear progress is often a source of frustration for those we represent – but speed should never be a priority over thoroughness.
What this new body must without doubt deliver is answers based on rigorous investigation, where all relevant questions are asked, all involved held to account, and all answers given thoroughly reviewed.
In our work representing families in compensation cases against the police, the IPCC has investigated alleged failings and oversights in investigations, accusations of police misconduct such as unlawful arrest or assault, and breaches of human rights with regards to the treatment of innocent members of the public.
By the time such cases reach the point of being investigated by an independent body, many families have already lost their confidence in the force involved and feel they may never be told the full story.
It is why they turn to us for legal expertise, seeking help to ensure serious questions are asked of the forces involved, how investigations were conducted and how officers involved went about their duties.
Director General of the IOPC Michael Lockwood said: “Public confidence in policing is best served by robust and independent oversight. People need to know that when things go wrong, or serious allegations are made about police officers, they will be thoroughly investigated by a truly independent body.”
That is 100% correct, as nothing less could ever be acceptable when issues such allegations of corruption, as well as sensitive matters involving deaths or serious injuries, are being investigated.