Drawn-out IOPC investigations into Metropolitan Police officers can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds per officer, a new report has revealed, with the costs rising at a higher rate the longer the investigation goes on.
The Police Federation of England and Wales has estimated that an investigation that lasts up to six months costs £10,851 per Metropolitan Police officer, which goes up to £217,015 when it drags on for five years or more – 20 times the amount.
The costs are even higher for suspended officers, where a six-month investigation costs approximately £22,656, and after five years it is a massive £453,115 per officer – again, 20 times the amount. The higher costs are due to forces having to replace officers while they are suspended.
“These figures are startling,” said Matthew Cane, Professional Standards Lead for the Metropolitan Police Federation.
“The drain on the public purse of protracted IOPC investigations is a matter that must be addressed.
“These figures reinforce the need for robust and meaningful changes to Police Regulations governing time limits on investigations into the conduct of officers.”
He added: “The impact of unnecessarily protracted investigations should not be measured in monetary terms alone. The public should be conscious of the professional and personal detriments MPF members suffer during drawn-out investigations.
“The IOPC must open itself up to great scrutiny if it is to maintain public and police officer confidence.”
The research findings have been shared with MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee as part of its inquiry into the IOPC and the time taken to resolve complaints against police officers.
PFEW’s Time Limits campaign, which launched in 2019, pushes for investigations to be concluded within a year, highlighting the impact of long investigations on police officers, their families and colleagues, as well as public trust in policing.
PFEW Conduct and Performance Chair Phill Matthews said the research findings were “staggering”.
He said: “Protracted misconduct investigations have not only ruined the careers of so many officers, but have severely impacted their mental health, their families and their colleagues – and now we can evidence they are a huge drain on the public purse.
“This is a staggering sum of money and shows every day that an investigation goes on is a significant cost to the taxpayer. Just because an investigation goes on for longer it doesn’t mean it is more efficient – in fact, they are often worse.
“Officers are rightly held accountable for their actions, and I absolutely condemn dishonest or inappropriate behaviour, but the IOPC often inexplicably pursue cases in which our members have acted properly. In many instances investigations which have gone on for five years or more have just ended in management advice or a written warning. We are hoping better training for IOPC investigators will result in more time being freed up to uncover those that don’t deserve to be in the job.
“Public trust in the system will also erode if people do not think their complaints will be dealt with quickly.
“We are encouraged that the IOPC is keen to work with us on this matter. However, we must ask can these costs be considered good value for money for the taxpayer? We must make the system more efficient and conclude investigations in less than one year.”