Police and Crime Panels must refer any complaints made about conduct by a Police and Crime Commissioner which constitutes or involves, or appears to constitute or involve, the commission of a criminal offence to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
The IPCC has recently revealed, in response to a Freedom of Information request I made, that there have been 25 such referrals to-date. In 20 of those cases the IPCC have decide not to carry out an investigation themselves but have returned the complaint to the Police and Crime Panel.
The IPCC has refused to release any information on these 20 cases they have decided to return to the Police and Crime Panels; they are not publicly explaining the reasons for their decision not to carry out investigations themselves in these cases.
While it may be that information on those complaints is available via meeting papers published on the relevant Police and Crime Panel websites I think it would be helpful if the IPCC published information about those complaints, and the IPCC’s decision not to investigate them themselves, so they are being transparent and accountable.
The IPCC does publish information on complaints it has decided to investigate. I think it is inconsistent of the IPCC to publish details of complaints they are investigating (or have concluded investigating) but to refuse to release or publish any information relating to other complaints. The IPCC refused to release information they hold on such other complaints against Police and Crime Commissioners citing the personal information exemption from the Freedom of Information Act.
Presumably there is correspondence from the IPCC to the relevant Police and Crime Panel in each of these cases explaining the decision; this could simply be published by the IPCC.
Comprehensiveness of IPCC Website in Relation to Police and Crime Commissioner Complaints
One reason I made my FoI request to the IPCC for information on complaints against Police and Crime Commissioners was to seek to discover if the information on complaints against Police and Crime Commissioners published on the IPCC website is comprehensive.
The response shows there is information on the IPCC website about all four complaints that have resulted in independent investigations by the IPCC. However the IPCC website hasn’t “tagged” their page on the investigation into Clive Grunshaw, or some other relevant material “PCC” so it does not appear on their webpage on PCCs, or what that page suggests ought be a list of IPCC investigations relating to PCCs.
While information on all four investigations is on the IPCC website; the page on PCCs is not comprehensive and there is no indication there is material omitted.
There is no requirement for Police and Crime Panels to deal with complaints in an open and transparent manner, and they may consider complaints in closed sessions.
Information on Complaints Against Police and Crime Commissioners the IPCC has not Investigated
The IPCC’s FOI response confirms information is held on “The current status of the complaint / investigation (or if an outcome has been reached what that was)” in respect of all 58 complaints against Police and Crime Commissioners however it is refusing to release that information in respect of all but 4 complaints.
I can see that the IPCC proactively publishing details of complaints which should have been made to, and dealt with by, a Police and Crime Panel without referral to the IPCC, might not be appropriate as they would not be aware of all of such complaints.
I do though think the IPCC ought monitor, and publish information on, how all those complaints which have been referred to them by Police and Crime Panels have been dealt with.
Monitoring the Performance of Police and Crime Panels
A further reason behind my request to the IPCC for information on complaints against Police and Crime Commissioners was to seek to monitor how Police and Crime Panels, including my own in Cambridgeshire, is working.
At the last meeting of the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel concern was expressed about the panel’s ability to rapidly pass details of complaints to the IPCC.
— Richard Taylor (@RTaylorUK) November 6, 2013
The IPCC’s refusal to release all but statistical data, which isn’t specific to particular policing areas means I cannot find out about any complaints relating to my own Police and Crime Commissioner which may have been referred to, or made to, the IPCC, all I’ve been able to find our is that there are none the IPCC has decided to investigate.
My Request and the IPCC response
In summary I requested:
a list of all complaints against Police and Crime Commissioners which the IPCC are aware of; providing for each:
- The Police and Crime Commissioner involved
- Brief details of the complaint
- The current status of the complaint / investigation (or if an outcome has been reached what that was)
The IPCC confirmed they hold the information requested but have refused to release it citing the personal information exemption from the Freedom of Information Act.
The IPCC did though provide the following statistical information:
The IPCC is aware of 58 complaints made about 31 of the Police and Crime Commissioners.
- 20 relate to referrals that were returned to the PCP for investigation;
- 1 relates to a referral where the mode of investigation is still being considered.
- 30 were direct complaints that we forwarded to the appropriate PCP for consideration;
- 3 were complaints that were copied to the IPCC as well as being sent directly to the PCP;
- 4 were referrals that have resulted in independent investigations by the IPCC. Information about the independent investigations is available in the public domain via the following links on our website:
[I note that four referrals were referred to and four links were provided however one was provided twice. ]
The requirement for Police and Crime Panels to refer serious complaints to the IPCC comes from Regulation 13 of the The Elected Local Policing Bodies (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012 which uses the definition of a “serious complaint” from Schedule 7 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.