Category Archives: IPCC
Lawyers for a former chief constable have questioned the fairness of a police watchdog investigation which concluded that he tried to manipulate his police authority following the publication of a damning report into the Hillsborough disaster.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said that Sir Norman Bettison would have had a case to answer for gross misconduct if he had still been a serving officer.
It said he interfered with the West Yorkshire Police Authority’s process of referring him to the commission in the wake of the Hillsborough Independent Report – a finding which would justify his dismissal if he had not resigned.
But lawyers for the former West Yorkshire chief constable said the way the IPCC conducted its inquiry “calls into question the fairness of such a process”.
West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson – who was the chairman of the police authority at the time of the IPCC referral – said: “The West Yorkshire Police Authority referred Sir Norman’s conduct to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) on 9 October 2012, concerning his alleged attempt to influence the authority’s decision-making in the days following the publication of the Hillsborough Report.
“I have provided evidence, along with the chief executive of the former police authority to this investigation and the findings of the IPCC are set out clearly in the report published today.
“This is a difficult time for the victims and families of the Hillsborough disaster, who rightly want to see justice done and those responsible for the tragic events held to account. However, there is a much wider ongoing IPCC investigation into other matters arising from the Hillsborough Report and it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on this matter at this stage to avoid prejudicing the final report and outcome.
“As your Police and Crime Commissioner I will do everything I can to ensure that the people of West Yorkshire continue to have the trust and confidence in their police force that they rightly expect and deserve and, as I have announced, I will be launching an independent review into police complaints and conduct.”
Sir Norman is facing a broader IPCC inquiry into his conduct following the 1989 disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans died at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground in South Yorkshire.
Thursday’s report focused on an allegation that he had tried to influence the police authority when it was considering this broader referral to the commission. According to the IPCC, the issue in question was Sir Norman’s desire to refer himself to the commission and, therefore, control the process.
New powers allowing the police watchdog to compel officers to attend interviews came into force today.
The measure was introduced as part of moves to beef up the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) as it took on an investigation into the Hillsborough disaster, the biggest ever inquiry into the actions of police in the UK.
The IPCC has faced difficulties in the past with cases such as the shooting of Mark Duggan, where officers refused to attend face-to-face interviews.
Mr Duggan was killed in Tottenham, north London, in August 2011 and his death was the trigger for a wave of riots and looting that spread across the country.
Last summer Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said that there had been “trust issues” between officers and the watchdog, which prevented questioning.
One officer finally agreed to be interviewed by the IPCC in December, but it is understood that he refused to answer any questions. All the officers involved had already submitted statements to the IPCC.
Under the new powers, the watchdog will be able to require serving officers to attend witness interviews and to bring misconduct proceedings if they fail to attend.
This authority includes police officers, staff and special constables, as well as officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency, National Policing Improvement Agency, British Transport Police, Ministry of Defence, Civil Nuclear Constabulary, some ports police and those serving in Scottish forces.
The IPCC already had the power to make officers come to interviews where there were criminal or misconduct allegations, and this has been extended to situations without those claims.
Thousands of names have been passed to the watchdog as part of its investigation into the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster.
These include officers from South Yorkshire Police and around 20 other forces who were present when 96 Liverpool fans died during an FA Cup semi-final in 1989.
Police from a heavily criticised sex crime unit pressured a woman to drop a rape claim against a man who went on to murder his two children, a watchdog said today.
Jean Say killed his son and daughter two years ago when they went to stay with him for a weekend.
The earlier rape allegation against him was dismissed by a detective sergeant based in the Sapphire unit at Southwark, south London, who said the circumstances did not constitute rape because the woman “consented”.
Today a report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission said: “There is no doubt from the evidence that the woman made an allegation of rape at Walworth police station which should have been believed and thoroughly investigated.”
Deputy chairwoman of the IPCC Deborah Glass said: “There’s no doubt this was an incredibly serious, shocking incident. We know with all the cases that we’ve dealt with that the consequences of not dealing with allegations of rape can be extremely serious.
“This is yet another tragic illustration of that.”
The case sparked a wider investigation into the work of the unit between July 2008 and September 2009, the results of which were published today.
It is the fifth into the Southwark Sapphire squad and the ninth into Scotland Yard’s handling of sex crimes.
The report found that the unit was “underperforming and overstretched” during the period in question.
Victims were pressured into giving retraction statements, which meant that the alleged crime had not taken place and boosted detection rates.
The report said victims were closely questioned by a detective constable before talking to a specialist officer.
This meant they were questioned repeatedly and went against standard practice that a victim should be believed in the first instance until evidence showed otherwise.
In a foreword to the report, Ms Glass said: “Today’s report brings to an end the IPCC’s involvement in this sorry chapter of the Sapphire Unit’s history.
“The approach of failing to believe victims in the first instance was wholly inappropriate. The pressure to meet targets as a measure of success, rather than focusing on the outcome for the victim, resulted in the police losing sight of what policing is about – protecting the public and deterring and detecting crime.
“The findings of our investigation into the rape reported in November 2008 were also deeply disturbing. The victim was failed by the people from whom she had sought help.
“Since 2009, when the unit came under central command, Sapphire has changed considerably and continues to evolve.
“But given the number of cases where the MPS’s response to victims has failed, either through individual officers’ criminality or neglect or more systemic problems of training, priorities and resources, the response that ‘lessons have been learned’ begins to ring hollow.”
This is the latest investigation into the handling of sex crimes by Scotland Yard.
The force has previously been criticised for failures over serial sex offenders sports coach Kirk Reid and taxi driver John Worboys.
In another case, Detective Constable Ryan Coleman-Farrow, who was based in Southwark, was jailed for 16 months in October last year for failing to investigate rape and sexual assault claims.
A second officer, based in Islington, north London, is still under criminal investigation.
In total 19 officers from across London have been disciplined, including three who have been sacked.
However, it also emerged today that Scotland Yard has failed to bring gross misconduct proceedings against three officers involved in the Reid case.
This was despite the IPCC recommending that the hearings took place, and a letter sent to the force by Ms Glass expressing her frustration at delays.
In fact, two of the officers involved have since been promoted.
Scotland Yard said it welcomed the findings of the report.
The force released a statement to say: “We have for some time acknowledged that previous investigation of rape and serious sexual assault in the MPS was below standard.
“The activities identified in this report came during that era and highlight specific issues within Southwark which resulted in unacceptable actions by local officers.
“It is as a result of such failings that we have made substantial changes to the investigation of rape and serious sexual assault, both in terms of structure and revised working practices.
“In 2009 Sapphire was moved to Specialist Crime and Operations to increase the focus on victim care and improve investigation standards. This has led to increased supervision and the Met being much better placed to identify any wrongdoing and refer it to the IPCC. The number of prosecutions has increased by 18% and victim care has improved significantly.
“We are not complacent and know there is always more that can be done to improve our service to victims. That is why we continue to work closely with key partners including the CPS, the Havens and charities such as Rape Crisis.”
Labour home affairs spokeswoman Stella Creasy said: “It’s time rape and serious sexual offences were handled effectively and in the interests of the victims.
“The findings by the Independent Police Complaints Commission today highlight worrying issues in the investigation and prosecution of serious sexual offences. It is completely unacceptable that a unit established to protect victims when they are most vulnerable should have any priority other than that person’s welfare and protecting the public.
“The IPCC report raises significant concerns that officers within Southwark Sapphire unit were unfamiliar with sexual offence work.
“This makes a strong case for a central body to support police forces across the country working in this highly specialised field – monitoring performance and victims’ experiences from reporting to prosecution. Labour’s idea of domestic and sexual violence boards should be pursued by the Government.”
Scotland Yard failed to hold gross misconduct proceedings against three officers accused of failings in the investigation into serial sex offender Kirk Reid (above), it emerged today.
Deputy chairwoman of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) Deborah Glass said it was “enormously frustrating” that action had not been taken.
The police watchdog had recommended gross misconduct hearings should take place involving the three officers but two have since been promoted.
Ms Glass said: “They need to demonstrate to the people of London that they are taking this seriously and they are holding officers to account.”
She wrote to the Metropolitan Police in June 2010 to complain about “the unhappy litany of delay and prevarication” in taking action, but received no reply.
This came as the IPCC today published a report from its ninth investigation into the Met’s handling of sex crimes.
In relation to the Reid case, the IPCC recommended that a superintendent and two inspectors should face gross misconduct proceedings.
In fact, the superintendent, who is now a Chief Superintendent, was given “words of advice”, an internal management procedure.
The detective chief inspector, who is now a superintendent, was given a written warning, as was the detective inspector, who remains at the same rank.
Football coach Reid was found guilty of stalking and preying on 25 women over 12 years in the Balham, Clapham and Tooting areas of south west London.
It emerged during his trial that police did not arrest him until four years after he was first named as a suspect and a separate IPCC inquiry was carried out into apparent blunders and failings.
A spokesman for Scotland Yard said: “This matter was subject to detailed consideration and dealt with as appropriate.”
An armed raider who tried to rob a bookies died after he was disarmed and restrained by members of the public, an inquest has been told.
Alan Levers, 50, from Plymouth, was wearing a gas mask when he went into the Ladbrokes branch on Crownhill Road in the Devon city shortly before 7pm last Friday.
An inquest into his death was opened this afternoon, at which it was heard a post-mortem examination had yet to establish a cause of death.
Speaking at the hearing, police inspector Steve Brownlow said the unemployed man was carrying an imitation pistol as he attempted to raid the shop.
He added: “He (Levers) was restrained and disarmed by three members of the public.
“He was held face down on the floor.”
He said police officers later handcuffed and arrested Levers while he was on the floor, but noticed he was not moving.
“They (police) removed the mask and commenced CPR,” Mr Brownlow said.
“Paramedics attended but he was pronounced dead at the scene.”
The time of death was confirmed at 7.37pm and Levers’ body was identified the following day by his girlfriend.
Coroner Ian Arrow adjourned the hearing for a later date.
Police praised “brave” members of the public after the incident, saying those who restrained Levers would not have known if the gun was a fake.
The incident had been voluntarily referred to the police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, as officers from Devon and Cornwall Police had arrested Levers at the scene before his death was confirmed.
But a statement on the force website later read: “The IPCC has contacted Devon and Cornwall Police to say that having made an assessment, this matter should be subject to a local investigation.”
A police spokesman confirmed this ended the IPCC’s involvement, and that Devon and Cornwall Police’s investigation into the circumstances of the incident would continue as normal.
Levers’ family later apologised for the armed raider’s actions.
Murder victim Gary Suller (middle) was let down by police when he turned to them for help, a watchdog found.
The actor was repeatedly threatened by violent criminal Barry Bowyer (right) in the weeks before his murder.
Bowyer went on to murder Mr Suller despite the fact the kindly actor reported his fears to police several times.
Former prostitute Katie Gilmore (left), 27, was having a relationship with actor Gary Suller, 45, when he was murdered in his home in Pontnewydd, Cwmbran, south wales, by her lover Barry Bowyer.
An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation concluded today that Mr Suller’s faith in Gwent Police had been misplaced.
It’s report concluded there had been “no misconduct by individual officers or staff but did find organisational issues”.
“Mr Suller had reported a number of incidents involving Barry Bowyer to Gwent Police prior to the discovery of his body at his home in Cwmbran on 6 September 2011,” the IPCC report says.
“I would like to offer my condolences to Mr Suller’s family and friends at what must be a very difficult time for them,” said Tom Davies, of IPCC Wales.
“The responsibility for Mr Suller’s death is solely that of Bowyer and he has received a life sentence for that terrible crime.
“However, our investigation found that Gwent Police let Mr Suller down and he did not receive the service he should have done.
“He took proper action in informing Gwent Police of the incidents he was the alleged victim of and they had a duty of care towards him.
“Mr Suller put his faith in Gwent Police believing all the incidents he reported to them would be investigated effectively and dealt with appropriately.
“It is evident that opportunities were lost for Gwent Police to take a more proactive approach in dealing with the problems that Mr Suller was experiencing.”
Mr Davies added: “The same concerns were highlighted following the inspection carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary into Gwent Police’s response to anti-social behaviour-related issues.
“Gwent Police has responded positively to the recommendations made by the IPCC and the HMIC and are implementing changes to address these.”
INDEPENDENT POLICE COMPLAINTS COMMISSION TO BE INVESTIGATED FOR BIAS – BUT WHEN WILL THE PRISONS OMBUDSMAN BE SIMILARLY INVESTIGATED?
The Home Affairs Committee is today launching an inquiry into the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
The Committee’s inquiry will include, but will not be limited to, analysis of:
The independence of the Commission;
The powers and responsibilities of the Commission; and
The effectiveness of Commission investigations.
Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
“The IPCC is plays a vital role in ensuring fair play in policing and improving public confidence in the police forces”
“But the Commission cannot improve confidence in policing if the public have low confidence in the IPCC itself”
“In this inquiry, we will ask how the IPCC can be improved to ensure that it can uphold the highest standards in British policing and whether it needs new powers to get to the bottom of the most serious cases”
“With 20% cuts ahead, these are times of upheaval for the police, so we will also be looking at how the IPCC must develop and broaden its horizons to ensure that all aspects of policing work will come under its scrutiny.”
Terms of Reference
The inquiry will consider:
Whether the Commission has improved the scrutiny of police practices
Whether the Commission has the right powers and resources to carry out its role effectively
Whether investigations lead to improvements in police practices
Whether improving police services should be formally included in the Commission’s remit
The Commission’s role in scrutinising elected police commissioners
The Commission’s role in scrutinising third parties commissioned to carry out policing duties
The Commission’s role in considering complaints which may relate in part to other bodies involved in the justice system, such as the Crown Prosecution Service
Whether the right balance is achieved between independent, managed and supervised investigations
How the work of the Commission could be effectively scrutinised
Written evidence is invited from interested parties.
Please bear in mind that the Committee is not able to investigate individual cases.
Mark Leech editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners said: “I welcome this investigation, the IPCC provides a vital service but it is overloaded with former police officers and this review is long overdue.
“It is sad that despite being requested to carry out a similar review of the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman’s Office the Justice Select Committee, which could investigate the PPO in exactly the same manner as the Home Affairs Committee is investigating the IPCC and for exactly the same reasons, have ignored all such calls to do so.
“This is despite the fact that the PPO is even more deeply flawed in its staffing profiles than the IPCC – at least at the IPCC the head is not a former Police Officer, yet the Head of the PPO is a former Prison Service Director which makes a complete mockery of purported independence; we need to keep up the pressure for a PPO Review.”
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