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PSA gives evidence to Home Affairs Select Committee over concerns around the police complaints process

The Police Superintendents’ Association (PSA) has raised concerns around the police complaints process, as part of a government-led inquiry.

In October 2019, the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) announced an inquiry into the police conduct and complaints system.  As a result of significant concerns in this area, the PSA convened a report, outlining evidence, data and suggestions for change, and today, Wednesday 27th January, presented its findings at a HASC evidence session.

The evidence was presented by PSA Professional Standards Coordinator, Victor Marshall OBE, who outlined the association’s concerns centring on:

• The completion and fairness of ‘severity assessments’ 

• The disproportionality and inconsistent application of restrictions/suspensions on officers 

• The timeliness of investigations by both the IOPC and force professional standards departments 

• The damaging blame culture and underuse of the performance procedures

The association is stressing the need for consistency and improvement in the application of the misconduct regulations and procedures so that they provide: 

-          A proportionate assessment of misconduct
-          Appropriate and proportionate restrictions that are applied case by case and regularly reviewed. 
-          Greater expediency in investigations and governance over timeliness. 
-          The improved and increased use of learning. 
-          Independent review process outside of the IOPC for those officers under investigation. 

The association’s evidence was presented as part of the HASC session on the police complaints system and the role of the IOPC. Victor Marshall gave his input alongside the Police Action Lawyers Group, INQUEST and the Police Federation of England and Wales.

 PSA National Secretary, Dan Murphy said: “Police officers excise significant powers, which they use based on a relationship with the public built on consent. Robust and effective processes around accountability and misconduct are therefore crucial so that these powers are used legitimately and so that our relationships with the public remain strong, based on confidence and trust.

“We believe that the current misconduct disciplinary system is failing police officers and the public.  The length of investigations, the inconsistency around procedures and a culture focused on blame, is negatively impacting the officers involved, the wider Service, and crucially, victims.
“A number of positive changes have been made to misconduct process in recent months, but they have not yet resulted in the change to this culture which is clearly needed. We hope our evidence provides constructive insight that will support work to change and enhance these processes which are essential for our Service.”  

The PSA’s written evidence submission to HASC is available to view here.