MPs say watchdog should change interview status of officers in cases of death or serious injury.
Police officers involved in the most serious incidents under IPCC investigation should routinely be interviewed under caution, MPs have said in a report on the watchdogâ€™s effectiveness.
The Home Affairs Select Committee said not interviewing officers under caution in cases involving death or serious injury was â€œindicative of a culture of treating officers differently to other peopleâ€.
At the moment, the watchdogâ€™s investigators can interview officers under caution but only if they specifically suspect misconduct or criminality on the part of officers.
â€œWhere officers are not interviewed promptly under caution, this can lead to weaker evidence and loss of confidenceâ€
The IPCC has to determine this at the outset of any investigation and define it as a conduct matter, which gives its investigation â€œspecial requirementsâ€ status.
The committee said it heard evidence that the watchdog often does not categorise investigations as such.
The committee recommends that the government rewrite legislation to automatically define all cases involving death and serious injury as conduct matters, unless it is immediately proven beyond reasonable doubt that the officers have no conduct case to answer.
The committeeâ€™s report, published today (February 1), says: â€œWhere officers are not interviewed promptly under caution, this can lead to weaker evidence and loss of confidence in the process of investigating serious matters such as deaths in custody.
â€œThe application of the threshold test for special requirements should be reviewed, so that officers are routinely interviewed under caution in the most serious cases, exactly as a member of the public would be.â€
The IPCC is making a high-profile bid to be granted powers to compel officers to attend interviews, instead of responding to its questions by written statements.
But the committeeâ€™s report said this should not be regarded as an â€œadequate substituteâ€ for interviews under caution, which carry legal safeguards for the interviewee and are admissible in court.
IPCC Responds To Findings
The watchdog has said many of the issues covered in the report have been repeatedly highlighted in recent years by itself.
Chair of the IPCC Dame Anne Owers said without the resources or powers necessary, the watchdog will continue to struggle to meet the legitimate expectations of complainants and families.
She added: â€œWe are a demand-led organisation, and, as the committeeâ€™s report shows, the demand for our services continues to grow.
â€œWe have re-focused the role of commissioners and are in the middle of a recruitment campaign. But all of this needs resources and powers. That is what we have been promised for the Hillsborough investigation, which will allow us to show what we can do and how we can do it. We want that to be a model of how we go forward.â€
From Police Oracle
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