Independent Office for Police Conduct
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) was established by the Police Reform Act 2002 and became operational in April 2004. The IOPC is independent, making its decisions entirely independently of the police, government and complainants. One of its primary statutory functions is to secure and maintain public confidence in the police complaints system in England and Wales.
The IOPC also investigates the most serious complaints and allegations of misconduct against the police in England and Wales, as well as handling certain appeals from people who are not satisfied with the way police have dealt with their complaint.
Since 2004, the IOPC’s remit has been extended to include:
– The IOPC people and their deputies
– the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and his deputy
– certain specialist police forces (including the British Transport Police and the Ministry of Defence Police)
– Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
– staff who carry out certain border and immigration functions who now work within the UK Border Force and the Home Office
– the National Crime Agency (NCA)
– staff who carry out certain functions within the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA)
In 2013, the then Home Secretary initiated the expansion of the IOPC. In response the IOPC launched a change programme, doubling its staff and taking on six times as many independent investigations. The IOPC went through considerable structural change. It no longer has a Commission structure, so has been renamed the Independent Office for Police Conduct (it was before named IPCC: Independent Police Complaints Commission). At the head of the organisation is a Director General, supported by Deputies, Regional Directors and a Director for Wales. This transition happened at the end of 2017.
The IOPC is currently overseen by a Director General, supported by non-executive directors, a deputy Director General, regional directors and a director for Wales.
The Director General, non-executive directors, regional directors and the director for Wales must not have worked for the police in any capacity prior to their appointment.
Information about the IPCC’s Chair and Commissioners can be found here: https://www.policeconduct.gov.uk/who-we-are/our-people .
The IOPC is funded by grant in aid received from the Home Office. In 2016/17 this was £71 million.
Police forces must notify the IOPC of any death or serious injury during or connected to contact with the police as well as serious complaints and allegations of misconduct involving:
– a death or serious injury
– serious corruption (including abuse of powers for sexual gain)
– a serious assault
– serious sexual offence
– certain allegations of discrimination
– certain criminal offences
Modes of investigation
Once a complaint or allegation has been referred to the IOPC, it will make a ‘mode of investigation’ decision to determine whether it is necessary to investigate the matter and if so how it should be dealt with. The IOPC can carry out its own independent investigation, manage or supervise an investigation carried out by the police or decide that the police force should carry out its own investigation.
Principles of investigation
When the IOPC supervises, manages or independently investigates a case it will:
– ensure that initial terms of reference for the investigation are clearly defined
– constantly review investigations to ensure they remain focused
– maximise the value of independent oversight to reach evidence-based conclusions as soon as practicable
– adopt a flexible approach to allow the mode of investigation to change as appropriate (for example, an investigation may start off locally but escalate to a supervised, managed or IOPC investigation)
– be independent and consider the needs and positions of all throughout the process
– where appropriate and in the absence of a public complaint, investigate the circumstances of an incident rather than the conduct of individual officers
The IOPC’s core values are:
– Justice and respect for human rights
– Valuing diversity
IOPC strategic objectives
The IOPC’s strategic objectives are:
– Improve the confidence of those groups who have least confidence in the police complaints system
– Deliver an increased number of timely and high-quality independent investigations
– Ensure that the IOPC operates a timely and high-quality appeals process
– Improve the quality of police forces’ own complaints handling
– Improve policing practice as a result of learning from our investigations and appeals work
– Ensure that the IOPC is fit for purpose, agile, able to manage significant expansion and representative of the communities we serve
In 2015/16 police forces recorded a total of 34,247 complaint cases – a decrease of 8% compared to 2014/15.
The IOPC received 3,900 referrals in 2015/16. It started 519 investigations and processed 3,610 appeals.