The chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has levied more criticism at the “defensive” attitude of some officers when investigations are carried out.
Dame Anne Owers (pictured) said her organisation often encountered “a circling of the wagons” when serious probes were carried out, which led to frustrations and huge delays.
She added that when Parliament had agreed a power to compel the watchdog to require officers to attend an interview, the Police Federation had advised its members they did not need to answer questions.
Addressing the Improving Public Confidence in Policing conference, Dame Anne added: “I suggest that – given the current state of public confidence in the police – it is at best unhelpful or at worst positively self-destructive for elements in the Police Service to be, or to be perceived to be, obstructive and unwilling to take part in the processes of accountability and transparency that Parliament has set out.
“We operate policing by consent – we also need consent to proper processes of accountability.”
Dame Anne said there were other aspects in relation to IPCC investigations that the watchdog wanted to change – including stopping officers colluding after incidents.
However, she denied that the IPCC was “out to claim scalps” as national firearms lead Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman claimed on PoliceOracle.com.
Dame Anne told conference delegates: “We are out to get the truth and we will of course be of no use to the Police Service, if the public perceive that we either don’t or can’t, for then they won’t believe us when we exonerate officers or commend their actions.”
She added that the current complaints system – or the way complaints were handled – was not designed to enhance public confidence.
Dame Anne was also critical of a defensive attitude to complaints.
She said: “In a commercial organisation, complaints are gold dust. They tell you what your customers think about you even when that is a perception rather than a reality.”
From Police Oracle