- Sadness and concern at unlawful use of police powers
- Scrutiny session today to ensure current practices are lawful
- Independent Lawyers to report on the use of these powers over the last six years.
- Work on replacement Professional Standards Department underway
- Public expectation of police will shape changes and future practice
In responding to the Judgment, Barry Coppinger, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, said:
“I accept this judgment of the hearing and I am concerned to read of the mistakes that the force made in the actions it took five years ago.
“The police have wide-ranging powers and it is imperative that these powers be used lawfully, it saddens me that, clearly, this was not the case in this instance.
“We do need to place this in the context of a force which employs around 1350 police officers, the vast majority of whom perform with bravery and integrity every day and have the overwhelming support of the public.
“The court accepted that the Force would have understandable concern that sensitive information had been leaked from the organisation to the media. What is clear from this judgement is that, in investigating these leaks, the force was wrong to use RIPA powers to access phone records of individuals including journalists and two serving officers.
“The Chief Constable has apologised to those affected and it is right that this was done. What is important now is that the Force understands how it got it so wrong and ensures that doesn’t happen again.
“At the beginning of January, the Chief Constable and I announced a series of actions that have been taken to ensure this. I feel it is very important that as PCC I play a joint role in overseeing this work.
“Through my Office I will ensure that there is independence from the police force, that the expectations of the public will drive any changes and that we look for answers and best practice from outside of policing as well as from within.
“Today (31 January 2017) I can confirm that a team of Specialist Lawyers has now been appointed to review any similar monitoring of calls over the past six years. We will publish their findings.
“I am pleased that the Chief Constable has already been able to confirm that in his four years at the force, these powers have never been used in this way to access the phone records of journalists.
“I have today (31/1/17) held a scrutiny meeting at which the Force provided a full and detailed presentation of the systems and practices currently in place for surveillance authorisation. This has been arranged to assure me, as the representative of the public, that these systems are lawful and appropriate and with effective checks and balances in place.
“Last month I also outlined the determination of myself and the Chief Constable to establish Cleveland Police as a national lead in professional standards.
“To that end, the Chief Constable will be replacing the current Professional Standards Dept. with a new body which will be shaped by review and research into current best practice in policing and other public and private sector organisations.
“The man appointed to lead this work, Mr John Armstrong QPM, was recommended by HMIC and has a proven track record in delivering excellence in professional standards. His work with Cleveland Police is already underway.
“When this new body is established, the post of Directorate head will be advertised nationally and open to those from a policing and non-policing background – a first for Cleveland Police.”
Posted on Tuesday 31st January 2017