1 March 2022

The Home Affairs Select Committee has today published the report of their inquiry on police conduct and complaints. INQUEST broadly welcomes the report, but highlights further changes required to ensure justice for bereaved people and other victims of police misconduct.

The committee’s recommendations and comments include:

  • The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) must do more to minimise delays to investigations, including proactively calling to account those responsible for delays or who refuse to co-operate.
  • Police forces, individual officers and their representative organisations must also take more responsibility for “rooting out bad behaviour” and ensure a non-defensive culture and response to complaints and conduct issues.
  • The Government should review how recommendations arising from investigations, inquests and inspections are reported to ensure this is done in a more joined up and meaningful way. The committee recommends this data be published centrally.
  • The Government should report twice-yearly to the committee on the implementation of IOPC recommendations by police forces.

The committee also noted the broader cultural issues with police forces and officers going through the misconduct process, contributing to “a culture of obstruction and delay”. However, they concluded that it should not be necessary to compel officers to cooperate investigations.

INQUEST believes that there should be a legal requirement for officers (and other public bodies and employees) to compel them to be open, honest and transparent about their actions. Hillsborough Law, formally titled The Public Authority (Accountability) Bill, is a draft law which would enable this.

INQUEST is also calling for a national oversight mechanism, tasked with overseeing all the recommendations arising from deaths, to ensure recommendations are not lost or left to gather dust, but instead are collated and acted upon to prevent future deaths. The committee’s comments in this area are welcome.

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST, said: “For too long the police complaints system has not met the needs of bereaved people or the public by failing to hold the police to account for criminality and wrongdoing. As such, the perception is that the police are above the law.

The current culture of delay, denial and obfuscation in the system, at every level, frustrates the role it has in the prevention of ill treatment and enabling justice and change.

We have called for a culture change for too long. It is clear that we need a statutory duty of candour, which would make it a legal requirement that police involved in deaths and serious incidents are open and honest about their actions.

We welcome the committee’s acknowledgment of many of the key issues. This must lead to concrete action. Not only from the IOPC but across police forces and the system as a whole.”

INQUEST gave detailed written and oral evidence to the inquiry, alongside the Police Action Lawyers Group and members of the INQUEST Lawyers Group.



For more information contact Lucy McKay on [email protected]