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Call for Evidence

Police conduct and complaints


The inquiry will examine the role and remit of the Independent Office for Police Conduct in relation to the police conduct and discipline system. It will look at how the IOPC and police forces around the country work to resolve complaints and at progress in reforming the system following criticisms of the time taken to resolve complaints. It will also investigate what reforms are required to secure public confidence in the police conduct and disciplinary system.

In 2018-19, police forces recorded a total of 31,097 complaint cases (2% fewer than the previous year). These complaints involved 58,478 allegations (a 5% decrease on the previous year). The allegation rate was 264 allegations per 1,000 employees across all forces. Forces finalised 54,987 allegations in the year, with 48% being resolved locally and 40% being subject to investigation.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is responsible for overseeing the police complaints system in England and Wales. However, only the most serious and sensitive cases are dealt with by the IOPC—most complaints are dealt with by local forces themselves. Each police force has a separate department that oversees complaints. These are called ‘professional standards departments’ (PSDs). Responsibility for ensuring that issues are handled in a fair and just manner by a local force PSD rests with the Chief Constable, who is accountable to the relevant Police and Crime Commissioner or other relevant office holder.

Concerns have been expressed repeatedly by Police and Crime Commissioners, policing representatives and others about the timeliness and effectiveness of IOPC investigations. Michael Lockwood, the director general of the IOPC, has himself acknowledged “legacy issues” of over-long investigations which the organisation is working to address. More recent reviews, notably the inspection by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services of the Metropolitan Police Service’s response to the recommendations made in the Henriques report on Operation Midland, have also expressed concerns about the response of policing to problems identified through police complaints, including delays in taking responsibility for learning lessons and implementing recommendations made.

Terms of reference for written evidence submissions

Written evidence is invited on the issues set out below – but please note that submissions do not need to address all of these issues:

• The role and remit of the IOPC within the police conduct and discipline system;

• Progress in reforming the complaints system, including speeding up decision making;

• How the IOPC is working with individual forces and policing bodies, including HMICFRS, in order to respond to complaints;

• The need for the IOPC's new powers (introduced in February 2020), and their expected impact; and

• Whether further reforms are required to secure public confidence in the police conduct and discipline system.

Please note that the Committee is not able to take up individual cases.

The Committee is not able to reopen any complaints against the police.

The Committee is not able to consider any matters that are currently subject to legal proceeding.

If you think your written evidence might come under any of the above categories please contact the Committee's staff at email for further advice.

If you have a complaint against the police, advice on how to complain is available here – including contact details for your local police force, who are the first people you should complain to.

Your submission

In line with the general practice of select committees the Home Affairs Committee is not able to take up individual cases. If you would like political support or advice you may wish to contact your local Member of Parliament. The Committee understands that personal experience may be relevant but requests that any written submissions directly address the terms of reference set out above.

The Committee will decide whether to accept each submission. If your submission is accepted by the Committee, it will usually be published online. It will then be available permanently for anyone to view. It can’t be changed or removed. If you have included your name or any personal information in your submission, that will normally be published too. Please consider how much personal information you want or need to share. If you include personal information about other people in your submission, the Committee may decide not to publish it. Your contact details will never be published.

Decisions about publishing evidence anonymously, or about accepting but not publishing evidence, are made by the Committee. If you would like to ask the Committee to accept your submission anonymously (meaning it will be published but without your name), or confidentially (meaning it won't be published at all), please say at the start of your evidence which of these you want to request, and tell us why. This lets the Committee know what you would like but the final decision will be taken by the Committee.

Submissions should be received by 12 noon on Monday 14 September 2020

Click on the start button below to submit written evidence. 

This call for written evidence has now closed.

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