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Independent Police Complaints Commission

Volume 603: debated on Thursday 17 December 2015

Today, I am launching a public consultation on reforming the governance structure of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). The consultation proposals form part of the Government’s continuing programme of policing reforms, including changes to the police complaints and disciplinary systems.

Public confidence in the police is the basis for our long-established model of policing by consent. The IPCC plays a critical role in securing and maintaining public confidence, providing independent oversight of the police complaints system and investigating the most serious and sensitive matters involving the police. I am committed to ensuring that the IPCC has the resources and powers it needs to perform these vital functions.

In March 2013, I announced that resources would be transferred to the IPCC to enable it to expand to undertake many more independent investigations. This major change programme is progressing well and in 2014-15 the IPCC started more than twice the number of investigations it began in the previous year. The IPCC are taking on more again this year, while concluding more cases than ever before.

On 12 March 2015 I gave a statement to the House in which I set out a number of radical reforms on police integrity which included giving the IPCC new powers and strengthening its role as an independent oversight body. The Government will be legislating for these changes in the forthcoming policing Bill.

As part of this package of reforms, I also asked the IPCC to consider reforms to its governance arrangements and structure to help it, as a significantly larger organisation, to deliver more cases and to increase public confidence in the reformed police complaints system.

Following the publication of the IPCC’s proposals in August, I invited Sheila Drew Smith OBE, a member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, to undertake an independent review of the IPCC’s proposals, in particular to consider their likely impact on public confidence and, as appropriate, provide recommendations for alternative reforms to governance structures.

Today I am publishing Sheila Drew Smith’s report alongside the public consultation on the Government’s proposed reforms to the IPCC’s governance. I am proposing that the existing commission model should be replaced by a single Crown appointee, supported by a unitary board, providing one single, clear line of decision-making in the organisation from top to bottom. These changes, and others set out in the consultation, are designed to deliver a more capable, more resilient IPCC, with clear lines of accountability and decision-making, and will help ensure that complaints made against the police are responded to in a way that builds trust and public confidence, and allows lessons to be learned.

I would like to record my thanks to the IPCC and to Sheila Drew Smith for their efforts in considering these important changes.

The public consultation will run until 28 January 2015. Following the publication of a response to the consultation, the Government intend to legislate as soon as practicable. Copies of the consultation document and of Sheila Drew Smith’s report will be placed in the Library of the House and also published alongside the public consultation via the Home Office pages on the website.

I hope that those with an interest in the IPCC will take the time to respond to the consultation.