21 January 2021
The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) is to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) to evidence the detrimental and costly impact lengthy conduct investigations have on police officers.
The Federation has been called to give evidence to MPs on Wednesday (27 January) as part of the HASC inquiry into the police complaints system and the timescale of investigations.
The Federation also already given MPs access to case studies including that of West Midlands PC Richard Allen-Zoarder who feels his mental health and enthusiasm for policing has been destroyed after he was subjected to conduct proceedings that he describes as ‘a massive witch hunt’.He became bed-ridden for two years with depression as a result of the investigation.
Steve Thorpe, chair of Gwent Police Federation, welcomed the inquiry and said fundamental reform of the IOPC was needed.
“It is incredibly difficult to over-state the impact conduct investigations that drag on for months and months and sometimes even years can have on the officers involved,” he explained.
“Many feel like their lives are on hold and there can be a massive impact on their mental health and wellbeing which often spills over into their home life.
“We all understand the need for officers’ conduct to be reviewed but we shouldn’t be allowing these enquiries to be so long-drawn-out. Officers’ lives are affected, as are their families, friends and colleagues but those making the complaints are also affected and the public can lose faith in the police complaints system.”
The Federation will highlight the impact of lengthy and costly investigations on police officers, their families and their colleagues as part of itsTime Limits campaignlaunched in 2019 to evidence the urgent need for investigations to be concluded within 12 months from the time of an allegation being made.
The Federation’s national conduct and performance lead, Phill Matthews, said: “We appreciate this opportunity to share the stark findings we gathered as part of our ‘Time Limits’ campaign with the Home Affairs Select Committee.
“Protracted disciplinary investigations have ruined the careers of multiple colleagues, left a mark on their mental health and placed pressure on their home lives and loved ones. It is clear the effects are devastating.
“Public trust in the system will erode if people do not think their complaints will be dealt with quickly. This issue is already something many complainants frequently express.
“We are encouraged the IOPC is keen to work with us rather than against us. However, the issue of investigations rumbling on for more than a year still continues, and enough is enough,” he concluded.
The Federation is additionally calling for:
• Improved IOPC investigator training, particularly in relation to post-incident procedures and disclosure
• A move towards a system where breaching the time limit has consequences on the ability to proceed.