Posts Tagged ‘IPCC’

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  These have been replaced by the standardised term of Professional Standards Departments (PSD).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 –

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/aug/04/police-corruption-inquiry-sean-price

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/206221.stm

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/dec/20/trafficking-victims-forced-crime-let-down-police?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

http://www.nypa.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=6670

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-16979424

http://www.hmic.gov.uk/media/west-yorkshire-revisiting-police-relationships.pdf

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

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Did you know that the cells used by the police have to be designated for such use, which also means that they have to meet certain standards before they can be passed as fit for use.  Each custody suite is subject to annual inspections in some cases by (independent)  HM Inspector of Constabularies in other cases by an internal department of the police force.

HMIC - Inspecting policing in the public interest

Each day, the custody staff should also carry out their own inspections to ensure the premises remain fit for purpose.

Each of the custody suites is extensively covered by CCTV, which also record audio throughout the building.  This safeguards both the detainees ate staff that work there.  However the “customers” generally are too angry or drunk to care about the CCTV and the staff become complacent and act normally (for better or for worse).  The recorded footage has helped prove many an allegation but has also succeeded in refuting wrongful allegations.   Police brutality is generally a thing of the past but it does still rear its head now and again as the below describes but it is also refreshing to see that the wrong doers have been dealt with for their unacceptable behaviour.

Excessive Use Of Force Against Two Women In Custody

Two young women were arrested for assault, handcuffed and taken into custody.

When the first woman arrived at the custody desk, her handcuffs were removed. A member of police staff searched her and removed bobbles from her hair without warning. She yelled at the member of staff and the officers who had brought her to the desk to get off her and demanded to know what they were doing. The member of staff put her left arm up in a straight arm bar hold and shouted ‘behave’ at her.

The member of police staff who conducted the search was not expected to assist with restraining detainees or removing handcuffs and her officer safety training was one year out of date. She had not been made fully aware of the limits of her role in respect of the use of force.

The woman’s arms were then raised behind her back and, when she did not appear to understand a question, an officer put his arm under her chin. These restraint techniques were used even though she had not become physically aggressive and no-one had explained why she was being searched, why she was being restrained and what was expected of her. The custody officer told her she would ‘learn the hard way’.

When the second woman was brought into custody she got the same sort of treatment. While at the custody desk, she asked one of the officers behind her “Why are you holding my neck like that?” – CCTV showed her head moving back and forward. An officer on the other side of the custody desk then grabbed hold of the woman’s head and pulled it down to the counter, swearing at her repeatedly and telling her not to move or he would “rip her skull off”.

The two officers behind her raised her arms behind her back and held them above her head for about a minute and a half, so her body pressed down on the custody desk, while the officer behind the desk pulled her handcuffs towards him. She was made to beg to be released and when she complained that she was in pain was told “it’s meant to hurt”. Her arms were badly bruised. CCTV did not suggest she posed a physical threat to the officers concerned.

The custody officer was present during the processing of both detainees. He not only failed to stop the excessive force used, he told the first woman that she would only get food and drink if she was polite and the second that the police “are trained to hurt”.

The custody officer and the officer who grabbed the head of the second detainee from the other side of the custody desk were found guilty at trial of misconduct in a public office and were each sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. The two officers who took the women into the custody suite and the member of police staff all received formal advice and management action.

As part of the IPCC managed investigation, a supervising sergeant from the police force concerned was asked to review the actions of all the officers involved. The sergeant was required to give evidence for the prosecution at the criminal trials of the officers on both the force’s training regime and on the appropriateness of the officers’ actions.

It would have been preferable to be able to draw on a regional cadre of self-defence experts so that experts from other police forces could have given evidence on the appropriateness of the officers’ actions, while an officer from the home force provide evidence on training in the force.

Officers from the force in question attended a oneday officer safety course, which was refreshed every 18 months.

Courtesy of Learning the Lessons.  For a copy of the document click here

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?