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Police Leaders Announce Major Changes to Investigations of Complaints

PSD Presser Iain and Barry

Chief Constable Iain Spittal and Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger

  • Professional Standards Department to be replaced.
  • National expert recruited to draw up blueprint for replacement body.
  • Lead role of new body to be open to non-police applicants.
  • Force apologises for unlawful use of RIPA investigatory powers.
  • Independent study will review all RIPA use over past six years.
  • Scrutiny session to assure PCC regarding current use of RIPA.

In a joint announcement today (05/01/17) the Chief Constable of Cleveland, Iain Spittal and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, have outlined changes to the way the force investigates complaints, misconduct allegations and wrongdoing by those who work for the organisation.

Recently the findings of various hearings, including employment tribunals, court cases and disciplinary cases have raised some concerns and questions about the Professional Standards Department.

This has co-incided with a planned formal review of the Professional Standards Department as part of the Chief Constable’s Towards 2020 programme and the Police and Crime Commissioner’s aim, as outlined in the Police and Crime Plan¹ developed in 2016, to establish Cleveland Police as a national lead in terms of professional standards.

Today it was announced that the Chief Constable will, with the support of the PCC, as soon as is practicable, replace the Professional Standards Department of Cleveland Police with a new body.

The operating structure and model of delivery of this new body will be shaped through review activity and research into current best practice in policing and other public and private sector organisations.

The review has been jointly commissioned by the PCC and Chief Constable and will be led by John Armstrong QPM, an appointee from outside Cleveland Police with vast experience in modernising professional standards who was recommended by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary. The review will be overseen by the Deputy Chief Constable Simon Nickless and the PCC’s Chief Executive Simon Dennis.

Police and Crime Commissioner Coppinger said: “A key commitment of my Police and Crime Plan was for Cleveland Police to become a national lead in terms of professional standards. It is clear from recent cases that mistakes have been made in the past. I hope those affected can look at the changes we are now implementing and accept we have listened, we have learned and we are determined to improve.”

Chief Constable Spittal said: “We have good staff working within the teams that make up the department, however many of the approaches are old fashioned and could harbour an environment where mistakes can be made. These structures constrain their skills and abilities.

“We need to dismantle these structures and establish a new modern framework which further transforms how we deal with complaints and investigations.”

With regard to the recent Investigatory Powers Tribunal hearing, which has indicated that the Force had acted unlawfully in its acquisition of communications data, Mr Coppinger and Chief Constable Spittal announced they have commissioned an independent review to address key questions that have arisen as a result of this case, specifically, the decision making process that lay behind the monitoring of telephone records by Professional Standards in this case. The review will also consider cases dating back over the past six years.

The Chief Constable confirmed that, on behalf of the organisation, he has written to the individuals concerned with the 2012 case to offer a personal apology.

In addition, a formal scrutiny meeting has also been arranged by the PCC for later this month for the Force to provide assurances that the systems and practices currently in place for surveillance authorisation are lawful and appropriate.

¹  Police and Crime Plan, 2016-2021, Page 6. http://www.cleveland.pcc.police.uk/Your-PCC/Police-and-Crime-Plan.aspx

Click here to read a full statement from Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger.

Click here to read a full statement from Chief Constable Iain Spittal.


Posted on Thursday 5th January 2017
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