21 February 2017
Revised Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) guidance, released today, for how evidence should be collected following the death or serious injury of a member of the public during police contact will do little to instil trust with officers involved in incidents.
Of significant concern is the continued drive for the immediate separation of officers following an incident, which is perceived by many as an inference of guilt.
Che Donald, firearms lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales said:
“Officers absolutely understand the spotlight they face following a death or serious incident and are under no illusion that there will be scrutiny of decisions made, and rightly so.
“However, this has to start on the right foot. They are witnesses first and foremost and to separate them in the immediate aftermath of a highly traumatic incident is neither proportionate nor necessary and without cause.”
In the Court of Appeal’s observations in its judgment in the case of Duggan and Delezuch, Lord Justice Richards outlined that “the separation of officers is an exceptional measure and that the normal position is that separation will not be required”. Instead, he considered the supervision of officers in the post-incident suite provides a reasonable safeguard against collusion.
Mr Donald outlined how it was pleasing to see that representations made by the Police Federation of England and Wales in other areas had been considered, including moving from the requirement for a Detailed Initial Factual Account (DIFA) to a Personal Initial Account (PIA).
He said: “Expecting officers to provide high level descriptive statements while suffering the effects of trauma and shock is unrealistic, which is why this should be provided after an initial account and a period of rest.”
Existing Authorised Professional Practice (APP) for Post Incident Procedure (PIP) following a firearms incident is well established but no such APP for other incidents has led to a disparity in how they are dealt with, making this guidance so important to get right for all involved.
Che Donald added: “Trust in the guidance by those at the forefront of these incidents – our members – is key to ensuring a timely, fair resolution for all those involved. In its current form it’s difficult to see the existence of that trust.”