The police need a tough system of standards and regulation to ‘wipe the slate clean’ as the integrity of forces throughout Britain has been thrown into question following a number of scandals, the former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police warns today.
Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington says that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) should be scrapped and “stronger safeguards” introduced. In an article published on telegraph.co.uk today, Lord Stevens warns that policing scandals surrounding Hillsborough, undercover investigations and telephone hacking have been “very damaging to public confidence” and that “piecemeal, fragmented reforms won’t cut it”.
Lord Stevens, an adviser to David Cameron, was appointed by Labour to run an independent commission on the future of policing, and today makes his first comments on the work.
His intervention comes ahead of government plans to be announced tomorrow to strengthen police integrity with a new code of conduct and public registers of second jobs and hospitality given to officers.
Lord Stevens says: “During the year that the commission has been sitting, revelations of police misconduct and investigative failures — from hacking to Hillsborough or undercover policing — have been very damaging to public confidence.
“The Independent Police Complaints Commission is considered by the public and MPs to be failing in its mission to guard the integrity of the police service.”
He adds: “There should be stronger safeguards. It should not only be chief constables who are held to account, but all those who work for the service — officers, support staff and private sector staff should be individually responsible for the quality of their work.
“It is doubtful whether the IPCC has at present either the resources or capacity to undertake competency or conduct investigations. But it is not enough to simply reform or strengthen the IPCC. It needs to be replaced with a new body that can wipe the slate clean.”
Lord Stevens’s commission has conducted a survey of 23,000 police officers which found a low level of morale, with over half saying that they were considering resigning. The survey found a connection between low levels of morale in certain forces and high numbers of complaints from the public.
The former Met Commissioner also said that although crime was falling, so was police detection. He warned of a “postcode lottery” among police forces in detecting and solving crime.
“Despite falling crime figures, there were nearly 4 million offences recorded by the police in 2011-12 and we only managed to detect 27 per cent,” he said. “The detection rate has fallen in the last two years.”