Posts Tagged ‘Independent Police Complaints Commission’

There are often reports in the media of police officers not maintaining the standards expected of them by both the public and the Police’s own Code of Conduct.  In the main, these are lower ranking officers from Constable up to Inspector ranks.  Their failings can centre around theft, assault, drug use and supply, perjury and a variety of road traffic offences.

To deal with such individuals, each force had units that investigated such officers.  The units were called Discipline and Complaints or Complaints and Discipline Departments or other derivatives of those words.  These have been replaced by the standardised term of Professional Standards Departments (PSD).  They tend to investigate or supervise investigations into complaints against the police, generally made by members of the public.  They can also investigate officers whom they suspect may be involved in any form of corruption or organise crime (regardless of whether or not a complaint about that officer has been received).  Some forces have now built Anti-Corruption Units to deal solely with this aspect, leaving the more “minor” matters to PSD or even local senior or middle ranking officers to deal with.

However, over recent years there seem to have been more and more police officers above the rank of Chief Superintendant dismissed and/or prosecuted for being involved in corrupt activities such as fraud and perjury.

A glance at the news relating to Chief Constables, Assistant Chief Constables and Commanders of the Metropolitan Police Service, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Cleveland Police will provide a few examples worthy of the crime fiction writer exploring.

What if your protagonist became aware of or embroiled with a senior chief officer of your chosen police force?  How could they have come across them?  Were they on the periphery of “unlinked” crime investigations such as organised drug or people trafficking or a paedophile ring?  Were they found to be “associating” with undesirable persons/suspects? What brought them to this place; did they feel owed, invincible, above the law or just downright cleverer than their staff?  Had they become indebted to the wrong type of person and that debt had been recalled?

How would their relationship develop?  Would the hero find themselves bullied and ostracised or the victim of some “random” attack?  Would the protagonist gain the support of colleagues or specialist investigators or will they have to seek help outside either the force or outside the police organisation all together?

What would the outcome be?  Who would survive to fight another day and who would profit or gain in the end? What would the role of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) be or would they somehow become implicit?

As a matter of historical fact, the IPCC reveal that between their inception in 2004 and 30/6/2010, they have received 55 complaints against senior chief officers.  Follow this link for more information.

See the following media reports for more ideas and information –

Don’t forget to get your copy of Writers, Researchers and the Police for an introductory price to the first 50 purchasers. For more information follow the image below

Writers, Researchers and the Police 2014 Cover



Secure your place NOW on the November 2012 Crime Fiction – Making it Real, weekend workshop designed for writers interested in learning more about the police, their procedures and practices.  There will be time to immerse yourselves in case studies and to bring along your very own questions to be answered.  Check out the Autumn 2012 Workshop page for more details.

For more information, contact me via e-mail at  –

It seemed a long time coming but when it did finally arrive, it flew.

From a personal point of view, the weekend far exceeded my expectations.  To top it all, I met a great bunch of people who were attentive, keen to learn and better still, keen to share their knowledge and help their peers.

What I’m talking about is the very first Crime Fiction – Making it Real weekend workshop, held at the West Yorkshire Police Training and Development Centre.

Delegates came to Wakefield from as far away as Avon and Somerset, Devon, Essex, the big city – London and Northumbria as well as places closer to the venue.

But don’t take my word for how good it was, read some of the feedback received –

Barbara  – Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the course.

I wanted a general overview of the police and procedures which I think you covered very well. Even if you don’t use a lot of it in the writing, it is useful background to get an idea of how a whole police station would operate. The stuff on the Major incident teams and crime scenes etc was very useful. I guess writers are also interested in dialogue so discussing interviews etc was also helpful.  I also found the stuff on who certifies death, the role of the coroner etc helpful.  The stuff on serious criminal, like rapists was very good as was the discussion of forensic profilers.  t skimmed through the CD and it will be an excellent resource for us.

We were quite a demanding audience and you handled the questions very well. I really did enjoy it. A big part as well is the other attendees and I got a lot out of talking to the others in break times.

Caroline  – Thanks for a terrific course and for your individual attention with my plot, really appreciated. A great weekend and I am now energised and armed to complete the book hopefully with my cop facts right.

CJ – I wanted to thank you for a very stimulating and informative weekend. I learnt a lot and especially valued having my specific questions all dealt with. Overall, it was a fun weekend and a great experience and I will recommend it to other crime writers.  I could tell you put a lot into organising everything for us and it paid off big time.

Gareth – I’d like to thanks you so much for an amazing weekend.  I felt so fortunate to meet you and so many wonderful people.  The course was very informative.  The main strength of the course was you.  You were clearly knowledgeable and presented the information in a friendly, easy to understand way, but, above all, your great sense of humour made it so much fun.

Ian – It was a great course thanks,

Jan – It was brilliant.  I’ve done over 20 OU courses and about 13 summer schools – and this has to be up there with the best of them.  I really enjoyed the whole thing.

It was exactly what I needed to convince myself that non-police personnel stand a chance of writing crime – both from the point of view of the information received (and thank you so much for the DVD, it’s excellent) and from being able to meet with published authors and non-published authors in a friendly and supportive atmosphere.  I thought it did exactly what it said on the tin – it explained the structure and routines and left me in a much better position to track down my own information, and to know what level of information I need to include.

It was obvious so much thought had gone into the whole weekend.  I also felt the tone was exactly right.  Serious subjects, but tackled in an intelligent and light-hearted way, which was just the right balance for me.  I’d be back like a shot for further courses

Linda  – Just a quick line to say how much I enjoyed and appreciated this weekend. I think you covered every question I thought I might ask and covered a good many I didn’t even know I needed to ask! You surpassed all my expectations of what might be got out of the sessions, and I think I will be referring back to the information on the DVD for a long time to come.

Lesley – Firstly thanks for the workshop, you obviously did a lot of hard work to produce it.  I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. I got a lot from it and learnt things I didn’t know. In fact I have created a new main character for my next book from those who are co-opted onto the enquiry (more later). T he DVD of information is an excellent resource.  Weekends like this are as much about talking to other people during the breaks and in the evening as about the workshop itself and we had plenty of time for that.

Maggie – You often don’t realise what you want to know until you know it and it provokes further questioning! I was open to consuming new knowledge that I could utilise along the way within my writing. I think I gained a new perspective through the course.  At the time I felt that being informed about the different uniforms was not necessary – in hindsight I feel that it was totally in context with the rest of the content once I had done the two days. It helps that you can take notes of thought provoking ideas rather than have to scribble everything that is said down and miss the overall aim/ambience.  During the course it was thought provoking and I am sure many of us have come away with some ideas for plot lines.  All in all I would definitely recommend this course to anyone considering it. Meeting the variety of people that were there was also interesting, some of us will definitely stay in touch and thus we are able to widen our network of contacts/writers/new friends.  10/10!

Paul – I enjoyed the weekend immensely and it was tremendous value for money. The extensive CD alone was worth the workshop fee and it contains everything the crime writer could wish for.  I think you provided a very good ‘walk through’ of what actual happens at the scene of a major crime and the different roles etc.  In conclusion it was an excellent experience

Sheila – I got loads from the course.  Lots of little gems will stay in my mind for further use.  I love anecdotes from people’s working lives, details that you will never get from a manual such as the spitting prisoner in a cage in a van.  The role play on tracing a wanted bod taught me how to think investigation.

Tom – I found the weekend most useful and the content and materials we subsequently received will prove valuable reference sources for crime writing. I got all the factual material I needed – and more. In fact I would suggest you were over-generous in how much info you released.

Wanda – I just want to say how much I enjoyed the weekend, and I certainly learnt a great deal. I am also delighted with the CD. You have been very generous with your knowledge, time and information and I am sure that I will now have a much better idea on how to proceed with my crime novel.

Anyone interested in signing up for the second workshop, drop me a line at

For those of you not sure of what you missed, take a look at the original post for the Crime Fiction – Making it Real workshop.

Often when the police use a Taser on someone, there is an outcry that they were heavy-handed, irresponsible and had no right resorting to such underhand tactics.

Many do not realise that the Taser is regarded as one of the least damaging of the personal safety equipment officers possess and that it is preferred that they use this method (where appropriate and proportionate) rather than resorting to either CS spray or even worse a baton, which can do lasting and permanent damage to the suspect.

It is therefore refreshing to see one of the many complaints against the police to be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) finding in favour of the police officers rather than the suspect.

The case involved two men who had threatened a taxi driver in South Wales.  The attending officers used a Taser against the suspects who were liable for arrest and posed a threat to the police.

The IPCC said that the officers acted properly and with a proportionate level of force despite one of the men complaining that a barb from the Taser had become embedded in his head and he had received stitches to both his forehead and his nose.

Witnesses to the incident confirmed that the two men had racially abused and physically threatened the taxi driver to which they both pleaded guilty to and that both men had offered aggression and resistance when officers attended at their property. to arrest

Independent Police Complaints Commission

Image via Wikipedia


The IPCC stated that “the evidence obtained in the course of the IPCC investigation did not support the allegation of  assault by officers. The evidence indicates that he (the complainant) sustained his injuries as a result of a Taser-induced fall onto a hard surface and the officers gave appropriate medical assistance as soon as he was subdued.

“We have found that the officers acted properly and used reasonable force to arrest two men who violently resisted arrest.

“The public expect police officers to respond to dangerous situations such as this and offer protection to those being assaulted. The police officers who responded that night were faced with two violent men who posed a threat to their safety.”

Alternatively, if the officers had resorted to using batons in order to help restrain the suspects, they would have sustained far greater injuries that may not have been so justifiable.

Police right to Taser pair who resisted arrest – South Wales Evening Post

Don’t forget to book your place on the Crime Fiction – Making it Real weekend workshop March 2012

Not all of the people that enter a police custody suite are suspected of breaking the law.  There are many people who enter, that are not directly employed by the police.  These can include defence solicitors, forensic medical examiners (or in old money – police doctors, but they are now provided by private contractors to the police).  As well as the doctors, there may be nurses that attend for more minor complaints made by detainees.  If the detainee is believed to be suffering from a mental illness, a social worker and a (Section 12 qualified) doctor will attend to assess the detainees’ fitness to be detained in police custody and/or to be interviewed by the police.  If they are determined to be unfit – are they in need of sectioning and/or detaining in a psychiatric hospital or ward?

Other people that may enter a custody suite include those working for one of the prisoner transportation contractors such as SERCO, G4S or Reliance etc., who move people from prisons to court and back, sometimes passing through police cells.

Another type of visitor may include an Independent Custody Visitor (ICV).  These are people currently recruited from the local community and trained by Police Authorities to be granted immediate, unannounced access to the custody suites with a mandate to speak with detainees, should they wish to be spoken to.  If they don’t, the ICV has no authority to force them to speak with them.  The ICVs are INDEPENDENT of the police.

Association of Police Authorities

The aim of the custody visits is to observe and report on the conditions in which people are being held, to check on their welfare and see that all the rules in respect of their rights and general care are being observed. So, it is important that people want to talk and feel they can discuss issues freely and openly with the visitors

Complaints or requests from the detainees are generally not major issues but tend to be about being provided with a drink or an additional blanket, or using the phone.

There are instances of detainees making complimentary remarks about the conditions in the custody centre, the staff and the way they are treated.

Where serious allegations are made, they will be brought to the attention of a senior officer on duty who then has to deal expeditiously with the complaint.

Could an ICV feature in one of your stories or in fact any of the other visitors to a custody suite?  Could they wreak revenge on or support a detainee?

Independent Police Complaints Commission

Image via Wikipedia

The Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into how Gloucestershire Constabulary dealt with two 999 calls about a man attacking a female found that individual mistakes led to a delayed police response.

At 5.47pm on Saturday 16 October 2010, an ex-police officer contacted Gloucestershire Constabulary’s control room to report that he had seen a male attacking a woman in a vehicle.

The vehicle had left the scene and the member of the public did not have a registration number for it, but he was sufficiently concerned to state that he was going to drive around the area to see if he could find it. This call was graded by the control room as a priority two response, requiring a response within four hours.

At 6.01pm the witness called a second time to report that he had seen the vehicle again and that the female was still in it. He gave the registration number of the vehicle, its location and direction of travel.

A computer check was conducted by the control room and keeper details noted on the log. There was intelligence indicating that the vehicle had been seen in suspicious circumstances, apparently following a group of young girls in June 2010. This intelligence report was not viewed and the incident was therefore not re-graded.

At 8.19pm the same evening, a 999 call was made to the police reporting that a 13-year-old girl had been kidnapped by a man in a white car and seriously sexually assaulted. It was later confirmed that this was the same vehicle and driver that had been reported in the two earlier 999 calls.

Colin Riddall was subsequently convicted for these offences.

IPCC Commissioner Rebecca Marsh said: “I hope that this young girl has begun to recover from the terrifying and wicked ordeal which Riddall subjected her to. We have shared our findings with her family and hope they are reassured by this.

“We will never know whether a much earlier response to the first 999 call would have been able to partially prevent this assault. But it is clear that the errors in the initial grading of the first call meant that this incident did not receive the appropriate response and led to it being viewed with a misguided lack of urgency by those who subsequently dealt with it.

“The IPCC investigation found that there were a number of procedural and performance-related failures, some of which were compounded by general confusion and a lack of compliance with call-handling policy.

“I have been heartened by the detailed response from Gloucestershire Constabulary to the IPCC recommendations. This included a two-week period in August where calls to the force control room were monitored and the risk assessments made by staff were checked.

“Public confidence in how the police deal with emergency calls is vitally important and I have arranged for our learning report and the force’s formal response to be published on our website.”

During the course of the IPCC investigation, a complaint was made that Gloucestershire Constabulary failed to respond to two emergency calls reporting the assault of a child.

The two 999 calls from the member of the public were not dealt with efficiently and resources were not deployed to the incident, so this aspect of the complaint was upheld.

However, as neither of the two 999 calls made reference to the fact that the victim was a child, the control room staff were clearly unaware of her age and vulnerability and this aspect of the complaint was not upheld.

Two inspectors, one sergeant and five control room staff were subject to performance advice for their individual inaction in handling the initial 999 call.

Courtesy of the IPCC 13/10/11.

Is this how your suspect evades arrest in the first instance?  Is this what frustrates the lead investigator in this case?

Result of a serious automobile accident.

Image via Wikipedia

A motorist has died after his car was involved in a crash with a vehicle that was being followed by police.

Officers were pursuing a silver Mazda 3 which was thought to be involved in an attempted burglary when it collided with a green Vauxhall Vectra, which then hit an HGV.

The male driver of the Vectra died at the scene on the A46 near Flintham, Nottinghamshire, at around 1.50pm on Friday.

The Mazda was being pursued by several marked police cars and a police helicopter in connection with an attempted burglary in Leicestershire.

No one else was injured in the collision and the driver has not yet been identified by police.

Three men have been arrested.

The incident has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission which will investigate the circumstances leading up to the crash – Mon, 10 October 2011Courtesy of: GUARDIAN UNLIMITED

If you want this to form part of your story, be aware that where the Police are judged by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, there will be many police resources and working hours devoted to the initial scene preservation, examination and ultimate investigation.  These things are not just a matter of routine.  They are classed as a critical incident by the police.