Independent Office for Police Conduct Director-General Michael Lockwood has admitted the organisation must do better on the time it takes to complete investigations.
“We don’t want a police officer under a cloud longer than they need to,” he told the Police Federation of England and Wales’s first ever Virtual Annual Conference.
Speaking about the time it takes to carry out investigations into police officer conduct, Mr Lockwood added: “We’re setting targets to get investigations finished in 9 and 6 months rather than 12.”
The Police Federation is campaigning for a 12-month time limit on conduct investigations into police officers.
“What we want is something that’s fair to our members and the complainants,” said Phill Matthews, PFEW’s conduct lead. “We want the complaints dealt with properly.”
Mr Lockwood, said the IOPC didn’t agree on the time limit issue, but accepted that what the IOPC had been doing in the past “wasn’t good enough” and had tried to address that.
He added: “What worries us is that there will be some investigations where because of their complexity, because there are vulnerable victims involved, that may go beyond 12 months. It’s important that we’re accountable for those and that’s why we will write to the appropriate authority to explain that, but my emphasis is making sure nothing goes beyond 12 months – and to reinforce that we’re setting targets for nine and six months for the next year.”
“What’s important to me and what I’m interested in working with the Federation on, is how we can stop some of those problems happening in the future; the learning,” he said.
“I get no satisfaction to keep dealing with things going on – how can we stop them happening? The learning element isn’t just a tap on the shoulder and a little chat but there’s actually some rigour behind it”.
Mr Matthews echoed Mr Lockwood’s sentiments and said that under the current iteration of the IOPC more than 400 learning reports had been issued, rather than those individuals being sanctioned.
“That’s key for us because those 400 reports go to changing the underlying policies and procedures of forces which will prevent our members falling foul of the misconduct system in future,” he said.
“We need forces to adopt that learning and rewrite their policies and procedures, so our members don’t find themselves on the wrong end of the misconduct arena.”