New Police Watchdog launched to replace IPCC

A new police watchdog has launched to investigate wrongdoing by police forces across England and Wales.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has replaced the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and will additionally have strengthened powers.

Unlike its predecessor, the IOPC will be able to initiate its own investigations without first relying on the police to record and refer the case to them.  The IOPC will also investigate all disciplinary claims against chief officers and will also have the power to re-open cases where new evidence has emerged. The IOPC will also be able to bring disciplinary cases against police officers even if their home force disagrees with its findings and takes no action.

Previously even where the IPCC were involved, the police force complained about would have primary conduct of the investigation which would then been overseen or supervised by the IPCC.

The aim behind the change is to safeguard the independence of the watchdog amidst widespread criticism that the previous IPCC did not act fairly or independently.

Only time will tell the effectiveness of this new watchdog, however in reality we expect that the IOPC will operate in a similar way to the IPCC, and only take on the most serious cases.  This will mean that individual police forces may still be responsible for investigating complaints made against their own force.

It is therefore important that you obtain legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in these kinds of cases at the earliest opportunity, to ensure the best possible outcome in the circumstances.

For more information, or to discuss a potential complaint or claim against the Police, please contact our specialist lawyers, Amy French or Caroline Snodgrass.