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National police complaint and conduct performance scrutiny

Publicity surrounding policing in England and Wales over the last few years has had a significant impact on how members of our communities view their police forces.  The IOPC annual report on the public’s perception of policing published in May this year (2023), has identified that negativity in the police is at its highest level since 2020, and that police misconduct has contributed significantly to this feeling. How our communities feel about the police handling of complaints has also been affected. Confidence in the police to deal fairly with complaints is at its lowest point since testing began in 2017 (IOPC, May 2023).

This has led to a range of interventions on a national focus.  The Baroness Casey review of the culture and standards of behaviour in the Metropolitan police force, which concluded in March 2023, highlighted the need for radical reform, the Rt Hon Lady Elish Angiolini’s inquiry into the murder of Sarah Everard is ongoing, with Part 1 report due to be published in early 2024, the Home Secretary Priti Patel commissioned the HMICFRS to undertake a review to assess the capability of police forces to vet and monitor officers. This included examining forces’ abilities to detect and deal with misogynistic and predatory behaviour by police officers and staffing, and the College of Policing undertook a root and branch review of its statutory guidance on police ethics, with a new revised code of conduct, code of practice and guidance expected to be published before the end of 2023, and the Home Office have reviewed the legal processes used in handling police complaints and conduct which concluded in September 2023, resulting in a number of recommended changes to the legislation behind police misconduct and police complaint processes.

In light of the important and much needed national scrutiny of police standards and conduct and the resulting recommendations for reform and improvement I have strengthened my oversight of police standards and conduct in Devon and Cornwall.  I have reviewed the priorities in my office and created a new Accountability and Standards team tasked with supporting my programme of work towards holding the Chief Constable to account.   Specific areas on which my team are focussing are:-

  • Scrutiny of police conduct process
  • Scrutiny of police complaint handling for complaints about discrimination
  • Developing a framework for holding the Chief Constable to account for ethical and professional policing in compliance with the revised Police Code of Ethics.
  • Monitoring implementation of recommendations arising from national reviews of policing standards.