MP raises concerns over drawn-out conduct inquiries in Parliament

A Police Federation campaign to shorten the length of conduct investigations has been raised in Parliament by Newport MP Jessica Morden.

The Gwent branch is backing the bid to set a 12-month time limit for disciplinary proceedings against officers with studies showing links between the length of investigations and officers’ deteriorating mental health.

Ms Morden tweeted: “In Parliament, I spoke in support of @PFEW_HQ @GwentPoliceFed #TimeLimits campaign. 

“Only 80 per cent of police conduct investigations are resolved within a year, leaving the remaining cases to linger on with a detrimental effect for those involved. No one benefits from this.”

Speaking earlier in the House of Commons, Ms Morden asked crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse: “Even under the new Home Office system only around 80 per cent of police conduct investigations are resolved within 12 months, the remaining cases linger on far longer with a detrimental effect to all those involved.

“Does the minister agree with the Police Federation that we need action to fix the system now, not as the minister has said allowing it to bed in, as no one benefits from long drawn-out investigations?”

Mr Malthouse replied: “I share the view that nobody benefits from long drawn-out investigations and it is absolutely our aspiration to shorten investigation time as much as we possibly can, bearing in mind the impact on the officer who is under investigation and indeed on those who are making the accusations.

“It is worth bearing in mind that delays in investigations often happen because of complex reasons, particularly for very difficult investigations which are necessarily under the control of the investigating body and while I understand and sympathise with the Police Federation’s desire to shorten investigation times it is worth bearing in mind that our over-riding interest should be in quality and thoroughness rather than hitting some kind of arbitrary deadline.

“However, I do meet regularly with the director general of the IOPC and we do monitor very closely how long investigations are taking. They did inherit 538 investigations from the IPCC which they have now managed to get down to three and currently I think they only have 30 investigations which have taken longer than 12 months.”

Gwent Police Federation chair Steve Thorpe said: “We are pleased that Jessica Morden has raised this important issue with the policing minister and hope the Home Office gives serious consideration to introducing a time limit on conduct investigations.”

The Police Federation is calling for a 12-month time limit for disciplinary proceedings against officers once allegations have been made. 

It says such a time frame would fit in with and complement the new regulations relating to Police and Crime Commissioners being given explanations when cases take longer than 12 months. 

Genuinely delayed cases should be safeguarded by the appointment of a legally qualified chair with the power to terminate or conduct robust case management to bring a rapid conclusion to long drawn-out cases.