Local policing bodies: functions in relation to complaints

Part of Policing and Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 22nd March 2016.

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Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 4:30 pm, 22nd March 2016

Thank you, Mr Howarth.

Almost three quarters of people who complain to the police are not satisfied with how their complaints are handled. The current arrangements are seen by the police and public alike as too complex, too adversarial, too drawn out and lacking in sufficient independence from the police.

The Bill will amend part 2 of the Police Reform Act 2002 to make the police complaints system more transparent and robust. It will give the police a new duty to resolve complaints in a reasonable and proportionate manner, while giving them greater flexibility in how they meet that duty. We will inject a greater level of independence into the system, strengthening PCCs’ oversight role and making them the appellate body for appeals that are currently heard by chief constables. PCCs will be able to take on responsibility for other aspects of the complaints handling process, including the recording of complaints and keeping complainants informed of the progress of their complaints.

The definition of a complaint will change. We are extending the definition of a complaint beyond conduct matters to make the system less about apportioning blame and more customer focused. We are retaining and clarifying the focus on immediate resolution of customer service-related complaints where appropriate.

We will enable the Independent Police Complaints Commission to initiate investigations more quickly, ensuring that crucial evidence is not lost and that the public perceive the IPCC as being responsive to events that may attract significant public attention. We will allow the IPCC to reinvestigate a complaint, recordable conduct matter, or death or serious injury matter if it is satisfied that there are compelling reasons to do so.

The Bill also provides for volunteers with policing powers to be captured under the police complaints and discipline systems. We are simplifying the decision-making process so that the IPCC will always make decisions about disciplinary proceedings following its investigations, which will speed up the process, and we are providing that the IPCC must lead independent investigations into certain matters that relate to the conduct of a chief officer or the deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan police.