Examination of Witnesses (Questions 263
TUESDAY 5 MARCH 2002
Chairman: Gentlemen, good morning and welcome
to a familiar face, in the case of Mr Wadham, and Mr Littlewood.
Much of the focus of your memorandum was on complaints and misconduct.
As you know, this is a fairly hasty bit of pre-legislative scrutiny
we are attempting here, and we are going to start with the complaints
and misconduct aspect of the Bill, if we may.
263. Mr Wadham, I wonder if you could tell us
why you are not satisfied with the provision in clause 10(c) which
says "an appropriate degree of independence" for the
(Mr Wadham) It seems to me that the key
issue in relation to independence is not the words in the Bill,
it is the practice as a consequence of the IPCC being set up.
In our original proposals we were suggesting that the Commission
should investigate itself a significant number of complaints.
The Bill proposes that there would be four categories of complaints;
that there would be complaints investigated by the police themselves,
complaints supervised by the new body but investigated by the
police, complaints managed by the Commission but investigated
by the police and, lastly, complaints investigated by the police.
I should add to that, there were two other systems of investigation
of complaints; one is the local resolution process, which involves
investigating police misconduct by the police and, of course,
lastly, if the matter is sent to the Crown Prosecution Service
or the Director of Public Prosecutions. It is a very complex system.
I think the solution would be to make it simpler because all of
the resources that the Commission will devote and divert to management
and supervision could be used in direct investigation. Lastly,
I think this suggests a problem about the extent to which this
is going to be the Police Complaints Authority re-labelled. There
have been suggestions that the current staff of the Police Complaints
Authority and the members of the Police Complaints Authority will
actually be re-employed by the Commission. I do not have any criticism
of those members of staff or members of the authority individually,
or in any other sense, but if this is about building public confidence
we have to have investigations which are not by the police of
264. I appreciate you say it is not just about
the wording it is about what is included elsewhere in the Bill,
but would you like the wording in 10(c) changed? If so, would
that help in any way?
(Mr Wadham) I think it would demonstrate an intention
by the Government and by Parliament that this was not just going
to be a re-labelling exercise if they dropped the word "appropriate"
or provided some other explanation which gave some reassurance
to us and to members of the public that this really was an independent
265. Moving on to how much it is estimated the
IPCC would cost, which I think is £14 to £18 million
a year, what is your concern about the level of resources that
(Mr Wadham) The current expenditure, I think, of the
PCA is about £3.5 million. So increasing that to £18
million is a very significant increase, and it will mean there
will be very significantly greater resources going into supervision,
management and investigation. However, the Deputy Chair of the
PCA, on a programme on Radio 4 last week, was talking about the
difficulties that the Authority and he had in properly supervising
the investigations they currently have. So they clearly do not
have enough resources with their very restricted remit. The problem
that I am concerned about is linked to the proposed legislation
itself because there are mandatory categories, and the new Commission
will be given a great deal of discretion in which cases it actually
will investigate. If there is not sufficient money then, in fact,
what you are going to get is more supervision and less independent
investigation. Of course, if there is no protection in the legislation,
a different government might take a different view and fund the
Commission in a different way, meaning that there would be fewer
and fewer independent investigations.
266. Would you like to put a figure on how much
you think should be in the budget?
(Mr Wadham) I think that is very difficult and I would
not pretend to be an expert. In the proposals we made a year or
so ago we were thinking about this kind of figure, and I think
most people believe that the investigation of about 1,000 complaints
a year would be the right figure for this Commission. We would
like the Commission to go beyond the particular categories and
to have the resources and authority to investigate other categories
of complaints. For instance, if there was an issue about the nature
of how complaints were investigated that came from members of
the public from particular ethnic minority groups, we would like
the Commission to be able to investigate those. Alternatively,
if there was a particular police station that was creating difficulties
we would like the Commission to have sufficient resources to investigate
all the complaints in relation to that police station. So we want
them to have greater discretion.
267. That is not ruled out under the Bill as
it stands, is it?
(Mr Wadham) No, that is absolutely true, it is not
completely ruled out.
268. It is not ruled out at all.
(Mr Wadham) It is not ruled out at all, but it is
not guaranteed. So, therefore, in answering the question about
resources, I do not know the answer to the question. We would
like to see a commitment to funding this organisation properly.
Giving a discretion to do nothing at all, or almost, in relation
to any complaint raises questions about the long-term funding
of the organisation.
269. It is not so much about how much funding
you think there should be, it is how much freedom they would have
(Mr Wadham) I have no problem with the budget being
£18 million. If it was doing its job properly, according
to how I would see it carrying out those functions, we do not
know how much that will cost, and it will be virtually impossible
to know until it has worked for a year, and then we would need
to look at it again.
270. Just going over the figures with you, I
thought I heard you say that there would be about 1,000 investigations
a year. We were given to understand that there would be about
2,000 investigations a year, half of which will be carried out
directly by the IPCC at a cost of £14 to £18 million,
which, it says here, is up from £5 million for the existing
Police Complaints Authority. Are those figures broadly in line
with what you understand?
(Mr Wadham) Those are broadly in line with my understanding.
On the issue of 1,000 investigations by the staff of the Commission
itself, obviously there are then the supervised and the managed
investigations, which will increase the number of complaints dealt
with in one sense or another by the Commission.
271. You were on the Home Office working party
that decided to go down this route, were you not?
(Mr Wadham) Yes, we were.
272. You personally.
(Mr Wadham) I personally, and my colleague. We made
these representations to all of the meetings that we have been
to. I should add that in some cases, Chairman, they actually have
taken on board some of our concerns. I am not here to suggest
that that process was flawed. We were grateful to be part of it
and we had some influence.
273. You say in your submission "Unfortunately,
we cannot support the Government's proposals for the new IPCC
in this Bill as it stands." You are not saying, are you,
that the existing arrangements are better?
(Mr Wadham) Far from it. One of my concerns in coming
and giving evidence today is that it is very important that the
Committee understands that Liberty believes that these proposals
are very significantly better than the current arrangements, and
that we would not wish these proposals to fall merely because
of our opposition, or for any other reason. I think they must
go ahead and they must go ahead in this Bill. I think there are
some improvements that could be made, both in terms of changing
the way that the Government intends to set this up as well as
some technical changes to the Bill, but because a lot of the rules
will be in regulations and actually be in terms of resources and
the setting up and not in the clauses in the Bill itself, it is
difficult to amendfor us or for anyone else.
274. The first sentence of your brief says "Liberty
welcomes the establishment of the IPCC".
(Mr Wadham) Exactly.
275. Can I put it to you, Mr Wadham, that the
likelihood that the Government would produce a scheme whereby
your organisation would say "Well, with very, very minor
changes we much welcome it" is, to say the least, quite remote.
The very nature of your organisation is such (and rightly so because,
as you know, I fully support it) that it is bound to find faults
where the Government of the day does not go as far as you would
(Mr Wadham) We do come here a bit like Oliver Twist,
and we do want more. That is our job and we will continue to ask
for more in relation to these proposals and others. The key question,
though, I think, is: is the public going to believe, as a result
of these measures, that the police will continue to investigate
themselves, albeit supervised, managed or in some other way, or
will they believe that there is proper independent, rigorous investigation
by someone completely separate from the police? That is the key
question. It is about how effective and efficient the system is
but it is also about public perception. I think they could go
a little further and gain a great deal more confidence, in the
way that we suggest.
276. When you say "a little further",
you are in fact reinforcing the first sentence of your briefing
to the Committee, which I have already quoted. In essence, you
do accept this is a substantial advance and progress on what is
happening at the moment regarding investigations. I do not want
to put words in your mouth.
(Mr Wadham) A very substantial advance and, as the
Chairman said to me, we have been involved in this process and
we have put energy into this process because we think it will
produce a much better system. What we do not want to have to do
is, in five years' time, revisit this process because it has not
quite succeeded or it has failed.
277. In some respects you can take credit, and,
indeed, your organisation (and you, personally, for the way in
which you have headed the organisation) over the fact that such
a measure is going to be introduced.
(Mr Wadham) A small amount of credit but more credit,
perhaps, to this Committee and others as well.
278. Very modest. I take it that, inevitably,
as you have done in the past, and properly so, you will be inclined
to try and get amendments to the measure included, which, as I
say, is obviously your right. Is that so?
(Mr Wadham) We certainly will. We have not done so
yet because we wanted to come to this Committee, and obviously
there are other issues about the extent to which we can have influence
within the systemsthe advisory committees, etcthat
we are members of. The crunch will come if this Bill does arrive
in this House.
279. You were saying that you felt that there
should be more categories of complaints. Is there not the possibility
that by doing that you risk compromising the discretion of the
(Mr Wadham) There is. I think it is a difficult balance
to get right, but there are some categories in the Bill of the
kinds of cases that will have to be referred to themcases
involving serious assaults and death. We, for instance, would
suggest that you could add to that corruption and racial discrimination
as categories. What that will mean is that the police involved
in the complaint investigation will have to refer those to the
Commission. We would say that those two categories, plus the ones
in the Bill, should be mandatory categories, subject to exceptions.
I know the Police Complaints Authority has argued consistently
that if all of the categories of investigation are mandatory they
will waste their time investigating cases which actually do not
require or deserve their investigation. That is partially true,
and that is why I would like to see some exception allowed in
the mandatory categories. However, our concern is, as I have stated
earlier, that if there is a squeeze on resources it would be very
simple for the Commission to spend more of its time supervising
cases and less of its time investigating cases. That would mean
that more cases of police misconduct or alleged misconduct will
be investigated by the police themselves.