Time Limits campaign gaining support

The secretary of Dyfed Powys Police Federation says the Federation’s Time Limits campaign is getting results after MPs heard from Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) about the impact of lengthy conduct investigations on officers.

Roger Webb welcomed the testimony of three Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to the Home Affairs Select Committee, which is looking into the role and remit of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

He said: “It’s pleasing to hear the PCCs echoing the aims of our Time Limits campaign and we urge the commons committee to take it on board.

“The campaign is getting results and to hear the issues raised with MPs shows we’re having an impact.

“Investigations that drag on are in no one’s interest. They have a huge impact on officers, their families and their colleagues and research from the Federation earlier this year showed they’re a huge cost to the taxpayer too.

“We understand that officers should be held to account for their actions, but the system needs to be speeded up to ensure it’s fair not just for the officers involved but also for the public,” he added.

The Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the role and remit of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) heard evidence from three PCCs and two academics about how police conduct complaints are handled.

North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan was among the PCCs to give evidence.

She said: “The timeliness issue was causing all sorts of issues for individual officers. In fact, the impact of it was much wider, in terms of views of lack of competency on the part of the IOPC and lack of fairness to officers.”

Sue Mountstevens, Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset, acknowledged that progress had been made at the IOPC especially in restricting the time limit to 12 months before an explanation has to be given to the PCCs, but also mentioned that greater accountability was necessary, adding: “I wonder where the accountability is to the IOPC if they go longer than 12 months.”

Alun Michael, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, said: “We ought to look at the acceptable length of time being reduced from 12 months to something much shorter than that.”

Phill Matthews, the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) national conduct and performance lead, gave evidence to the committee in late January and described the deep and damaging effects long-term investigations can have.

After this latest evidence from the PCCs, he said: “It is really positive that all seem to agree that 12 months for an investigation is more than adequate and that PCCs would like that to see that reduced and have more ability to hold the IOPC to account for the time investigations take. PFEW will continue to campaign relentlessly to ensure fairness for our members.”