Metropolitan Police Federation

Post Incident Procedures: Trust In Yourself

Commander Kyle Gordon is the Metropolitan Police Lead for Post Incident Procedures. Here, he talks about why officers should be transparent and have faith in the PIP process.

Q How did you become the force’s lead for Post Incident Procedure?
A The Met, because of the size and scale of it, used to have three leads for Post Incident Procedures. There was someone in firearms – that was me, because that’s my portfolio – someone in frontline policing, and someone in custody.
But it became clear that there was a disparity in how you got treated, depending on where you sat in the organisation.
So, for example, if you were in the firearms world you got the gold-standard service, with support and expertise. If you were in frontline policing it wasn’t as consistent as it should have been. Four years ago we pulled it all under one lead and I became the force’s lead for all things post incident.

Q It’s important to emphasise that PIPs aren’t just for firearms officers, are they?
A Yes, and in fact most of our work is not in the firearms space, even if you count Taser. Most of our PIPs are around road traffic collisions and pursuits, and other frontline policing activities, whether that be custody or use of force.

Q Why is having a robust process for Post Incident Procedures so important?
A Of course we should be held to account for our actions. That is absolutely the core of our model of policing in Britain.
And if we aren’t transparent around our actions, that builds distrust in the community, which makes us less effective as a police service because a community that doesn’t trust you, doesn’t speak to you. So then you don’t get the information and intelligence you need to tackle criminality.
From the individual perspective, it’s really important because we have asked ordinary men and women to do the most extraordinary things on behalf of the people of London.
So these steps are in place to give them the confidence to know that they can help us account to the public for our actions without feeling that they will be unnecessarily vulnerable.
The four stages of the PIP process allow us to obtain the information that we need, allow our oversight bodies – for example, the IOPC – to be able to do their job, while balancing that with the rights of the police officer to be able to provide their account.

Q Do you think there’s any room for improvement in the way that PIPs are dealt with?
A PIPs have moved on so far in the last number of years that I think we are in a pretty good position now. I think we’ve got the checks and balances right.
But we do need continual improvement in the relationship with the organisations that hold us to account, for example the IOPC.
We feel at times we don’t always get a consistent standard of service from the IOPC. There are some very good IOPC investigators who take a pragmatic approach and understand that very few incidents are textbook.
However, there are times when we get investigators who lack experience, it’s maybe their first exposure to the post incident process, and on those occasions it makes it difficult for us to be able to deliver the process in an effective way.
But the Metropolitan Police Service probably has the gold standard in terms of Post Incident Procedures: we have a post incident co-ordination desk staffed by full-time officers who do nothing but deal with everything related to post incident.
They deal with everything from the initial incident and co-ordinating Post Incident Managers, securing the post incident suite, making sure that everybody has the information they need, right through to several years later helping with the gathering of documents for inquest or inquiries.

Q Do you think the DPS has enough officers to deal with Post Incident Procedures?
A Yes, because we took the post incident rota from specialist operations, from Met operations, from frontline policing, and we brought them all under one rota.
We average about one PIP a week, although sometimes they come in fits and starts.
We make sure that we expose people from other areas in the business to the process. We do that through them becoming a PIM2, a Post Incident Manager 2, working alongside a Post Incident Manager 1, the main post incident manager for an incident, who has a lot of experience.
I get texted and notified 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when a post incident event takes place. That’s the system we put in place. I was texted on Christmas Day because a post incident had been called.
So even that senior oversight of these incidents is absolutely bang on in the Met, because the systems are now well-tested.

Q How important is the Post Incident Manager’s role in supporting people who are going through this process?
A Massively important. We regularly run continuous professional development (CPD) days for them. They have to do a minimum of one a year.
I hold a strategic Post Incident board to make sure we capture any sticking points and feed them through.
In the Metropolitan Police Service we push that a Post Incident Manager 1, a PIM1, should be a Superintendent-level officer, somebody who is sufficiently senior to be able to balance the rights of the officer and, if needs be, on the very rare occasion, take a robust stance against the IOPC.

Q What advice would you give to an officer who’s involved in a PIP?
A My main advice has always been trust in what you have done and have the confidence to be able to give an account for what you have done.
There have been occasions in the past when officers have said very little at Stage 3 and there may be times when this is acceptable due to legal advice or status being unconfirmed. However, the PIM will want to try and secure as much information as they can to assist investigators whether from the IOPC or DPS.
So, my advice to officers has always been have faith in the process, have faith in what you’ve done, and give a proper, full account of what you’ve done to the best of your ability.
Very few officers, when they do that, find themselves in trouble. In fact, usually it speeds up the process and means they can get back to operational work at an earlier stage.
The earlier they can be open and transparent, the better it is for them, the better it is for the process.
Q What’s the importance of Federation reps in a Post Incident Procedure?
A The Federation is very important because it provides a further perspective. But Federation Reps need to be very careful that they don’t end up extending the process unnecessarily. There are times when you can be absolutely right in principle and take a stance, but sometimes it simply extends the misery and anxiety for the officer, because you’ve pushed things out further.
It’s really critical for me that Federation Reps are, as they should be, part of the process. They have a really important role in this, but I would urge Reps to always try to see the bigger picture. The steps are there to protect the officer and the vast majority of Federation Reps get it absolutely bang-on in terms of that balance. The Federation Rep is there to give advice and support to the officer.

Q Have you been involved in a PIP? What was good about it and what was not so good?
A I’ve been through several Post Incident processes and some of them for quite serious incidents, from a previous area in which I worked.
I got good advice from colleagues around me, and had confidence in the fact that what we had done, even though it was at the higher end of the use-of-force scale, it was absolutely the right thing.
So I was happy to give a full and frank account of everything that had happened. This was over a period of about two-and-a-half days of interviews, because it was quite a protracted investigation.
What didn’t go so well was that it was the very early days of the Post Incident Procedure in Northern Ireland. It certainly didn’t have the structure, format and regulation that it does in the Met.
There were times where I wasn’t entirely sure of what the next stage of the process was. I wasn’t entirely sure that those leading me through the process understood it fully either.
But this was quite a few years ago and things have absolutely moved on since that time.

Q What would you say to people who want to become Post Incident Managers?
A Please get involved, come along to the continuing professional development days and get as much exposure to this as you can, shadowing other people doing this complicated job.
Lead PIMs have difficult decisions to make between what the IOPC wants, what the senior investigating officer wants, what the Federation is asking for, and what the legal advice is.
The work around keeping our officers and staff as safe as possible in these complex situations just cannot be overstated.
And I want to say a massive thank you to Post Incident Managers and Co-ordinators for what they do.
All of our Post Incident Managers do this on top of their day job, they take on more responsibility, more stress, and a bigger workload to help their fellow officers.