Definition of police complaint

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 Jack Dromey Jack Dromey Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 4:30 pm, 22nd March 2016

I beg to move amendment 160, in clause 11, page 13, line 27, at end insert—

“(d) a member of the civilian staff of a police force in relation to whom the conduct took place when in the capacity of a private citizen.”

This amendment is to allow police staff to make complaints to the IPCC in relation to police conduct which impacts on them when not at work and in their capacity as a private citizen.

First, may I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, the shadow fire Minister, for her epic efforts in holding the Government to account throughout what has been, at times, a lively debate?

We tabled the amendment following discussions with representatives of both the police service and Unison, the principal union that represents police support staff. It would allow police staff to make complaints to the IPCC when they are not at work—there is an existing procedure through which they must go—in their capacity as private citizens.

We seek an explanation from the Government as to why, when off duty, police staff who suffer a case of police misconduct should not be able to raise it with the IPCC. There could be a range of issues where they live, socialise and shop. Sadly, incidents sometimes take place and they should have the right to pursue a complaint and use the IPCC’s machinery.

Unlike police officers, police staff are not sworn into office, so they are not limited as police officers are in respect of activities such as political campaigning during their free time. That is reflected in officer pay and employment contracts for the police service. However, under the current provisions, police staff are essentially denied an opportunity that is freely provided to members of the public. It is our view that in accepting a job, a member of police staff should not have to sign away their right to make a complaint to the IPCC regarding a member of the force with which they take the job.

In conclusion, other than where there are legitimate restrictions, for example in respect of police officers and their existing contract of employment, we cannot see a reason why police staff should be so constrained, and we therefore very much hope that the Minister will move on the matter.