26 April 2018
The new police watchdog has finally resolved two complaints about its predecessor’s handling of an investigation into two Nottinghamshire police officers which left them in limbo for nearly six years before they were finally cleared.
But it took the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) nearly another year to do so in spite of inheriting many of the same staff and officers from the former Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
Nottinghamshire Police Federation made two complaints about the IPCC handling of the investigation of this case on behalf of the two officers subject to a failed IPCC directed hearing that took place on 2 May 2017. The IPCC’s original investigation began in 2011 after a female detainee, Lynette Wallace, complained. For nearly six years the officers’ lives were blighted as the investigation dragged on, until they were finally cleared, which prompted the complaints from Notts Police Federation.
The IOPC’s final response was received by Phill Matthews, conduct lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), this month (April).
The watchdog admitted that its performance was not acceptable on a variety of grounds. Two staff members were given management action as a result of the PFEW complaint and the internal investigation of the complaint also resulted in 10 recommendations for changes to the way the organisation functions moving forward.
Mr Matthews said: “ We are disappointed that it has taken nearly a full year to resolve the complaints, bearing in mind that such lengthy delays were part of the original problem, but pleased that the IOPC have now upheld our complaint against it and apologised to both the officers, admitting that its performance was not acceptable.
“The news that the IOPC has also made multiple recommendations for changes is also welcome. We are heartened that some learning appears to have come out of this protracted and sorry case and hope that this will make future cases quicker, fairer and more proportionate for our members.
“I want to stress that the officers involved, unlike Ms Wallace, have never sought any form of financial compensation for the turmoil this flawed prosecution has put them through since it began in 2011. Their motivation has always been about ensuring that the flawed investigation that they had to endure would not happen again in the future and their colleagues moving forward will be treated fairly according to the regulations and Home office guidance.”
Unlike Ms Wallace, however, the officers, a male and female PC, did not receive a public apology from the IPCC after the case, even though the misconduct panel was scathing in its verdict on the conduct of the IPCC whom it accused of ‘significant failings’ and ‘significantly departing from the regulatory framework.’
Mr Matthews said that the Police Federation will continue to work constructively with the new IOPC as it strives to regain the trust of PFEW members moving forward. New IOPC Director General Michael Lockwood is also due to speak at the PFEW annual conference in May.
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