Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Police Federation of England and Wales


  1.  The Home Affairs Committee has already received our responses to the consultation paper The Way Ahead and to the policy paper Blueprint for Reform. We commend these responses to the Committee. We draw particular attention to our "Main message to Government" at the end of our response to the policy paper. We asked the Government to consider very seriously the grave concerns we had expressed about police powers being given to non-attested personnel and the involvement of the private security industry in patrolling public places. As an alternative, we urged the Government to reconsider our proposal to build up and professionalise the special constabulary into an effective auxiliary force.

  2.  In this written evidence to the Committee, we set out our views on:

    —  the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), the principle of which has our fullest support, and its proposed structure and modus operandi (which was only revealed in the Bill);

    —  (in summary form) those other issues in which the Committee expressed interest in Press Notice Number 10, dated 30 January 2002; and

    —  (also in summary form) further issues which we wish to draw to the Committee's attention.

  3.  We would also like the Committee to be aware that the time limit for the submission of responses to the policy paper, after a very short consultation period, was Monday 21 January 2002. Our response was delivered to the Home Office on that day. The Bill itself was ordered to be printed on Thursday 24 January 2002, indicating that the Government had given no consideration whatsoever to our response.


Independent Police Complaints Commission

  4.  For many years we have advocated the independent investigation of complaints against the police. We therefore welcomed the Government's announcement in The Way Ahead that the IPCC was to be established on a statutory footing, and this support was wholeheartedly confirmed in our response to the policy paper.

  5.  Against these expectations, we were very disappointed to read in the Bill that there will indeed be four different levels of investigation, with the appropriate level being decided in each case by the IPCC:

    —  by the appropriate authority (chief officer or police authority) on its own behalf;

    —  by that authority under the supervision of the IPCC;

    —  by that authority under the management of the IPCC; or

    —  by the IPCC.

  At all levels, apart from an investigation by the IPCC, police officers will continue to investigate police officers as they do under the current regime of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).

  6.  From our membership of the IPCC Programme Board we understand that the Commission will undertake 1,000 investigations a year. The last PCA report indicated that there were over 32,000 complaints against police in England and Wales. This means that the IPCC would investigate only slightly more than 3 per cent of complaints with nearly 97 per cent still being investigated by police officers, albeit some of these would be under the supervision or management of the Commission.

  7.  In practice we believe the proportion investigated by the Commission would prove to be even less than that: against the backcloth of an increasing number of police officers and particularly the extension of police powers to non-attested personnel, the number of complaints is likely to increase. If there is to be a lid on the number of complaints investigated by the IPCC, such independent investigations will represent only a tiny proportion of the investigations carried out by police officers.

  8.  We have concluded that the IPCC, as structured in the Bill, is a piece of window dressing designed to give the appearance of independence whilst in effect perpetuating the present system. We suspect that what has brought this about has been too much emphasis on finding a low-cost solution. There is no indication of how the IPCC will be funded or how many staff it will directly employ. We fear that without proper resourcing there will be considerable delays in processing complaints. Far from increasing public confidence that complaints against the police are independently investigated, we fear that the IPCC may potentially further undermine the existing levels of public confidence in the system.

  9.  Members of our Discipline Sub-Committee have visited the Police Ombudsman's office in Northern Ireland. The Ombudsman conducts all investigations into complaints apart from those that are dealt with by local resolution. We were told that despite some initial cynicism on the part of the public and the police alike, the complaints procedures appeared to have settled in, with the Ombudsman reporting mounting public confidence in the system. We suggest that the Committee's deliberations would benefit from taking evidence from Northern Ireland.

Other provisions in Part 2 of the Bill

  10.  A complainant is given the right of appeal to the IPCC against "the conduct of the local resolution" of the complaint (Clause 9, Schedule 3, paragraph 9). The appeal can only be in respect of "any contravention of the procedural requirements". But one of the remedies available should the IPCC determine that the procedural requirements have not been followed is that the matter should be referred back for a full investigation. This seems illogical if the complainant has to consent to the matter being dealt with by local resolution in the first place. Having been through the process of local resolution, we firmly believe that an officer should not then have to face another process involving a full investigation, placing that officer in double jeopardy.

  11.  We welcome the duty put on the IPCC to protect persons who report misconduct from victimisation (Clause 10(4)(b)). We would also like to see protection for officers who have been subject to complaints which are shown to be malicious or which have been fabricated for the purpose of affecting the outcome of a criminal investigation. We believe it should become an offence to make such a complaint or to make such a complaint on someone else's behalf knowing it to be false.

  12.  The definition of a complainant in Clause 12 of the Bill includes third parties who claim to have been "adversely affected by the conduct". We support the principle of third parties being able to make a complaint but we suggest that, to avoid abuse, misconduct proceedings should only take place where the third party's complaint is corroborated by other evidence and that the criminal burden of proof should be applied.

  13.  We supported the omission of direction and control matters from the complaints procedures at the IPCC Programme Board (Clause 14). But we think there should be a procedure by which members of the public can complain about force policies implemented by our members. We suggest therefore, that rather than issuing guidance as provided for in the Bill, the Secretary of State should define such procedures in a code of practice.

  14.  For the purposes of or connected with the carrying out of its functions, the Secretary of State may by order make provision to enable the IPCC to use "directed and intrusive surveillance" and "covert human intelligence sources" (Clause 19). This is ambiguous. The IPCC's functions are in relation to criminal and discipline conduct. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 enables the use of surveillance etc. in the investigation of serious crime. Surely it is not intended to allow the IPCC to use these heavy powers to investigate discipline only matters? This definitely needs clarification. In the event that it is intended to permit such surveillance for potential discipline only cases, we believe that there could well be implications under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

  15.  The IPCC is put under a duty to keep the complainant informed. Among the matters to which this applies are "any provisional findings of the person carrying out the investigation" (Clause 20(4)). We think this provision is unsatisfactory because the provisional findings of the investigating officer may not be adopted by the person responsible for deciding whether or not to bring a disciplinary charge. For the complainant to be told by the investigating officer that there is a strong or even a prima facie case raises expectations that could then be dashed if a different decision is subsequently taken on charging.

  16.  We would also point out that since the stated purpose of this provision, according to the policy paper, is "increasing openness" then there is a definite imbalance here: no parallel duty is imposed on the IPCC or the appropriate authority to keep the officer subject to the complaint informed. We suggest that this imbalance should be corrected. We certainly believe that the officer complained about should be entitled to be sent a copy of the report, which is to be sent to the complainant (Schedule 3, paragraph 23(10)).

  17.  The Secretary of State may make regulations providing misconduct procedures for members of staff of the IPCC (Clause 25(1)). During the consultation period, we have been given to understand that these procedures would be contained in the Bill. We firmly believe that robust discipline and complaints procedures should be in place before the IPCC comes into operation.

  18.  Regulations may be made conferring a right on such persons as may be specified "to participate in, or be present at, disciplinary proceedings" (Clause 32(1)(b)). We see this as a rather underhand way of enabling discipline proceedings to be made open to the public. Without any further discussion of what may be intended by this provision, it could be that regulations are introduced making hearings completely public, or enabling the attendance of "up to three" individuals as suggested in the consultation paper. We are firmly opposed to the opening of police disciplinary proceedings to the public. Police disciplinary proceedings are in this respect no different from in-house disciplinary proceedings in other professions and occupations; and both are different from employment tribunal hearings which are quite rightly open to the public.

  19.  Adverse inferences are to apply to discipline interviews in the same way as now apply in criminal interviews. (Clause 32(1)(c)). We are dismayed by this provision, even though it was expected, having been guillotined from the Private Security Act 2001. If the right to silence is to be removed, we believe that balance would be regained by the restoration of the criminal burden of proof in police discipline procedures. Alternatively, criminal proceedings have established that for the prosecution to be able to invite the court to draw adverse inferences from silence at interview, there must have been sufficient disclosure to the suspect or legal advisor to enable the suspect to understand what it is he or she is being asked to respond to. If the absolute right of silence is to go in discipline proceedings, then we think it is only fair to ask that such a safeguard is introduced into the Bill specifying the level of disclosure that would be required before an officer is interviewed.

  20.  Complaints against officers put them under significant stress. The majority of complaints are unsubstantiated and there are many which are malicious and/or fabricated. We are concerned that stress levels may be further increased if there are delays in the processing of complaints caused either by the complexities of the procedures or the inadequate resourcing of the IPCC. For these reasons we believe that a statutory time limit of three months should be imposed for the completion of an investigation.


National Policing Plan


    —  We welcome the introduction of an annual National Policing Plan.

    —  No mention is made in the Bill of the National Policing Forum through which stakeholders can contribute to the Plan.

    —  In any case, there is no need to set up a new body when there already exists a statutory forum for consultation in the police service—the Police Advisory Board for England and Wales (PAB(E&W)).

    —  The Secretary of State should be under a duty to consult with the PAB(E&W) before the Plan is laid before Parliament and in subsequently monitoring its effectiveness.

Power of intervention on grounds of efficiency/effectiveness


    —  We support the Secretary of State being given the power to intervene on the grounds of efficiency or effectiveness.

    —  In the policy paper, it was emphasised that this power would only be used as a last resort and after a process intended to assist the force address the underperformance.

    —  There is no reference to this in the Bill.

    —  The Home Secretary should only be able to intervene on the grounds of efficiency or effectiveness following a recommendation to that effect by HMIC or the Police Standards Unit.

Operation of the new Police Standards Unit


    —  We welcome the establishment of the Police Standards Unit.

    —  However, we see the potential for role confusion, overlap and duplication of effort between the Police Standards Unit and HMIC.

    —  The Government should define the boundaries between the two organisations.

Making new arrestable offences


    —  We are generally in favour of all the new arrestable offences created by the Bill, including the three offences specified in Press Notice Number 10.

Giving specified powers to non-attested personnel

Community support officers


    —  We are opposed to giving any police powers to community support officers (CSOs).

    —  The powers proposed are extensive rather than limited.

    —  A chief constable must specify in relation to each person designated as a CSO, which powers he or she may exercise.

    —  Not all CSOs will be given the same powers, creating confusion in the minds of the public as to what sort of CSO they are dealing with.

    —  The public is well aware of and understands police powers to arrest, thereby reducing the number of arrests that have to be effected forcibly.

    —  The public will not understand the power of a CSO to detain using reasonable force for up to 30 minutes pending the arrival of a constable.

    —  The exercise of the power of detention by CSOs has implications for Articles 5 and 8 of the ECHR.

    —  This will increase the number of detentions which have to be effected forcibly leading to confrontations in which the police will have to intervene.

    —  Many of the functions on which CSOs would be deployed are potentially some of the most difficult and dangerous situations faced by police officers, eg public order support and operating at times of terrorist threat.

Investigating officers


    —  We are fully supportive of the need to attract expertise to help in the fight against sophisticated IT-based crime and fraud.

    —  We accept that there may not be an adequate police capacity of such expertise in some specialised fields.

    —  But we see no need for investigating officers to have powers.

    —  We remain fully committed to the view that in a democratic society police powers should not generally be exercised by other than attested police officers.

Detention officers


    —  The present legal position of civilian gaolers is unclear and they run the risk of actions for assault.

    —  We therefore support the formalisation of most of the powers and responsibilities of detention officers, which are more akin to prison officers' powers, but not the powers to arrest or to require to attend a police station.

    —  Detention officers must continue to operate under the direct supervision of the custody sergeant, in which case they will not need the powers to arrest or to require to attend a police station.

Escort officers


    —  We support the powers and duties conferred and imposed on escort officers.

    —  We view these as also more akin to prison officers' powers relating to persons already in custody.

Accredited community safety officers


    —  We are totally opposed to the establishment of accredited community safety schemes and giving powers to accredited community safety officers (ACSOs).

    —  The confusion in the minds of the public as to the role and powers of ACSOs would be even more marked than with CSOs.

    —  The involvement of the private sector opens up the nightmare scenario of the infiltration of accredited schemes by those minded to further criminal activities such as drug dealing, loan sharking or burglary.

    —  Appropriate access to police command and control systems would have to be given to ACSOs, providing a further motivation for terrorists and criminals to infiltrate accredited schemes.

    —  No duty is imposed on chief officers to ensure that the employer is trained in the supervision of schemes.

    —  ACSOs would be responsible to their employer who must "have established and maintain satisfactory arrangements for handling complaints relating to the carrying out by those persons of the functions for the purposes for which the powers are conferred" (Clause 34).

    —  It is not safe to let the private security industry deal with complaints from the public about the misuse of powers by its own employees. This lacks accountability and transparency.

Use and powers of wardens


    —  Wardens should not become enforcers of the law, but they can operate viably in a "supercaretaker" type of role within the fundamental principles set our by ACPO.

    —  We were concerned that wardens were one of the groups nominated in the policy paper as suitable for membership of an ACSO.

    —  The giving of even limited powers to public-spirited individuals puts them at an unacceptable risk and will lead to confrontational situations with the public.

Development of a core of specialist detectives


    —  We recognise that giving candidates the option of choosing a specialist detective career has the potential to help rebuild the detective skills base within a relatively short timescale.

    —  It would be better for that option to be exercised at the satisfactory completion of the two-year probationary period rather than at recruitment.

    —  By then, more informed decisions could be made on a candidate's suitability and he or she would have a firm policing base.

    —  Specialist detectives should be encouraged to sit general promotion exams and to develop experience in other policing functions.

Framework for delivery of scientific and technological advances


    —  We agree that "scientific and technological advances need to be exploited to the full". This will only be achieved if the Government makes available sufficient additional resources.

    —  We support the setting up of a new high level Science and Technology Strategy Group which, in consultation with key stakeholders, will establish a strategy to be reviewed annually.

    —  Given the importance of joined-up science, technology and IT, we now support a power for the Secretary of State to regulate equipment (Clause 6).

    —  The Secretary of State should be required to consult with the Science and Technology Strategy Group before making regulations requiring forces to use or not to use specified equipment.

Police pensions, pay arrangements and working practices


    —  The present Police Pension Scheme already meets the needs of modern policing.

    —  Officers need to have confidence while performing their duties that adequate protection is in place. This is provided by the present scheme, to which our members have to contribute 11 per cent of their pensionable salaries.

    —  In the policy paper, the Police Pension Scheme is ominously referred to as "inflexible".

    —  We would oppose any "modernisation" of the Scheme which involved the introduction of flexibilities at the cost of a reduction in the overall level of benefits to our members.

    —  Pay arrangements and working practices were the subjects of an agreement in principle reached at the Police Negotiating Board on 27 December 2001.

    —  A ballot was conducted by MORI on 6 February 2002 in which federated members in England and Wales were asked if they supported or rejected the agreement in principle.

    —  The result of that ballot will be known on 25 February 2002.


Regulation of Operational Procedures and Practices


    —  In the policy paper, the Government was considering a power for the Secretary of State "to ensure that regulations may be made in all circumstances where it is in the national interest that all police forces act in the same way".

    —  In our response to the policy paper, we pointed out that such a power had the potential seriously to undermine the operational independence of chief constables, and lead to the political control of police operations.

    —  We suggested instead that best practice models should be promulgated through codes of practice, with implementation being monitored by the Police Standards Unit.

    —  Where failure to fully implement a code led to underperformance, the Secretary could intervene using his efficiency/effectiveness powers.

    —  In the Bill, the wording considered in the policy paper has, thankfully, been abandoned.

    —  The Secretary of State would, however, be able to intervene to require forces to adopt "particular operational procedures or practices".

    —  This is a better provision than that suggested in the policy paper, but it would still undermine the operational independence of the chief constable.

    —  We commend to the Committee the approach advocated in our response to the policy paper (paragraphs 21-25) and outlined above.

Police Members of NCIS and NCS


    —  Police officers may be appointed to NCIS or NCS directly, rather than being on secondment from their own force (Clauses 64 and 65).

    —  We regret this move. The present secondment system ensures a free flow of skills between the national services and police forces.

    —  If the services can recruit directly from forces on a non-returnable basis, forces will be deprived of the enhanced skill base provided by those returning.

    —  This measure will militate against the Government's objective to rebuild investigation expertise capacity.

An Effective Auxiliary Force


    —  The Government's plans to give police powers to non-attested personnel and to involve the private security industry in public patrolling are fraught with difficulty and danger.

    —  A much better way of extending the police family would be to build up and professionalise the special constabulary into an effective auxiliary force of around 32,500, equivalent to 25 per cent of the regular officers to be in place by the end of this Parliament.

    —  There would be no complicated message to get across to the public as to which civilian officer had which powers in which circumstances: just that auxiliary officers had full police powers.

    —  Even allowing for specials to be paid bounties, this solution is less costly than the Government's.

The Police Federation

February 2002

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