Responding to the findings Mr Coppinger said:
“At 11am today (Aug 09 2017) I received the judgment of the Investigative Powers Tribunal case involving Cleveland Police and six people.
The Tribunal recognises the role myself, as Police and Crime Commissioner, and other public bodies have in now taking these issues forward and, in my case, holding the force to account for its actions.
I can assure the tribunal and the public that this has happened and is ongoing.
I accepted the findings of the Tribunal in January and since then a considerable amount of work has been carried out to ensure lessons are learned for the future.
The Tribunal raised serious concerns about the use of Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) applications and authorisations by the Professional Standards Department. I shared those concerns and commissioned specialist legal services provider Weightmans LLP to audit every case over the past six years involving the use of RIPA by Professional Standards.
This ongoing work will not only provide a valuable learning curve for the force, it will also give ongoing assurance to the public that these powers are used and have been used in a way that is appropriate and which contributes to the safety of our communities.
I have also undertaken an in depth scrutiny of the current use of these powers and have been given assurances that they are appropriate. I am encouraged that during an inspection in 2016 the Information Commissioner’s Office commented that Cleveland is a force that respects the protection of Human Rights under RIPA and concluded the force has a good level of compliance with the Act.
Today’s written Judgment criticises the legal basis on which the force progressed this case. This will be looked at in detail and as a starting point I have asked the Deputy Chief Constable to attend a scrutiny and oversight meeting to provide assurances with regard to this area of work.
I have also asked Xanthe Tait to carry out an internal review into the legal services handling of this specific case and for any recommendations she may have for the future. Ms Tait is the former Chief Crown Prosecutor for North Yorkshire and a former senior prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service. In January she was appointed to explore and advise on future legal collaborative work.
Earlier this year myself and the Chief Constable established the Transforming Professional Standards programme. This will deliver the objective made in my Police and Crime Plan for Cleveland Police to become a national lead in police professional standards.
Following a recommendation by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary we appointed John Armstrong QPM to lead this modernising programme. Mr Armstrong has vast experience in this field including with the Home Office and College of Policing.
His transformation review has looked at best practice within other police forces and in other professions. He has drawn up a blueprint for a modern, public focussed, service that places the upholding of ethics and professionalism at its core. Mr Armstrong has worked on a one to one basis with officers and staff at all levels to ensure that everyone is aware of the changes required.
In the very near future we will be advertising for a head of this service and applications will be open to suitably qualified people from a policing and non-policing background. I’m pleased to say that we have retained the services of Mr Armstrong to support the unit until the new head is in a position to take up the post.
The force has confirmed that matters raised by this tribunal will be investigated by an outside force to determine whether there is a case for disciplinary or criminal charges to be brought against any individuals. That is a decision I support and I have asked to be kept updated on progress.”
Posted on Wednesday 9th August 2017