The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) and National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), together with support from the Home Office, Independent Office for Police Complaints (IOPC) and the College of Policing, are running a series of workshops on police complaints reform to assist with preparation for implementation of this reform system later this year.
Julia Mulligan, APCC lead for Transparency and Integrity, comments on the importance of the roadshows:
“The Government has made far-reaching and welcome changes in law to the Police Complaints and Disciplinary system, but these have yet to be implemented. These roadshows, which the APCC is organising jointly with NPCC, will help to inform local PCCs offices and police forces about how they can plan to implement these reforms.
“Transparency will be at the heart of the reformed complaints and disciplinary system, which is no less than the public would expect. It will make it easier for the public to complain and get a prompt response about issues like poor service, as well as ensure that misconduct cases can be addressed effectively. PCCs will have a stronger role in the system and, alongside the reforms to IOPC, this will help to make police complaints more independent of the police.
“The disciplinary system will also change so that minor infringements are more focused on learning and less on blame, hopefully leading to a less defensive and more constructive approach to addressing poor service. Serious misconduct will continue to be dealt with through the misconduct system, but with a strengthened role for IOPC and independent disciplinary panel chairs.
“These are complex reforms, which require significant planning to implement, and these roadshows are designed to kick off that process and maintain the momentum of reform. This will help to ensure that we deliver a more user-friendly, timely and effective system that addresses the concerns of our communities about issues ranging from poor service to handling serious police misconduct”.
Policing and Fire Minister Nick Hurd said:
“Britain has a proud tradition of policing by consent and a recent report by Her Majesty’s inspectorate was clear that public confidence in police remains high.
“The Government takes policing integrity very seriously and has introduced a programme of measures to reform the handling of complaints and disciplinary procedures involving police officers and improve standards of behaviour.
“The latest phase of reforms, due for implementation this year, will improve how misconduct hearings are prepared and conducted to ensure a more effective, timely and fairer hearing process.
“They will also overhaul the complaints system to make it more customer-focused, simple to understand and ensure cases are dealt with quickly – not only to benefit the general public but also for the sake of police officers who have done nothing wrong.”
Chief Constable Craig Guildford, NPCC lead for Complaints and Misconduct said:
“The disciplinary system will also change so that low level wrongdoing which falls short of the expectations of both the public and the police service as set out in the Code of Ethics is more focused on learning and service improvement, as opposed to blame and punishment. This will lead to a more constructive approach, led by local supervisors, delivering non-sanctioned outcomes when addressing low level wrongdoing and mistakes.
“There will be no loss of accountability under the new regime, indeed it will be strengthened. PSDs will be focused on dealing with complaints and conduct matters where the severity of the case is not less than serious misconduct, whilst the IOPC will have the power of initiative and will no longer be dependent on a force making a referral before an independent inquiry can commence.
“In a more streamlined and simpler to use complaint’s system, where once the force would have been the appeal body under the old regime, that ‘review’ function will now fall to the PCC, thus providing greater transparency and independence. Whoever performs that role will need to have the necessary skills to forensically examine the handling of a complaint and be able to understand the complexities of policing so as to deal with such reviews effectively. I would strongly encourage PCC’s to apply their minds to who such a person or persons would be, in ample time before implementation of the new reforms. Indeed PCC’s may wish to recruit prior to implementation and replicate the new review function within the current regime.’
Four Complaints Roadshows will take place in January in locations which include London, Wales and Yorkshire, with a fifth held in Liverpool in February.
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