Statutory Guidance
to the police service
on the handling of complaints
Amended May 2015
CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION 4
Whom the guidance applies to 5
How the guidance is arranged 5
Overview – the three ways into
the system 5
The Police Reform and Social
Responsibility Act 2011: Changes
to the police complaints system 8
PROMOTING ACCESS 12
The importance of an
accessible system 12
Providing information and access 12
Complainants who need
additional assistance 13
Complaints made by young people
under 16 14
COMPLAINTS 16
Initial handling 16
Definition of a complaint 17
Who can complain? 18
Recording a complaint 19
Complaints about
discriminatory behaviour 22
Who can be complained about? 23
Decisions not to notify or record
a complaint 24
Deciding how to handle a complaint 24
DISAPPLICATION 25
When can disapplication be carried
out by the appropriate authority? 25
When the IPCC’s permission needs
to be obtained 26
Grounds for disapplication 27
Partial disapplication 29
Appeals against the decision
to subject the complaint
to disapplication 29
LOCAL HANDLING 30
Local resolution 31
It is not possible to locally resolve
the complaint 34
CONDUCT MATTERS 36
Definition of a conduct matter 36
Recording a conduct matter 36
Conduct matters involving
allegations of discrimination 39
Conduct matters relating to people
who no longer work for the police 39
Referral of conduct matters to
the IPCC 39
DEATH OR SERIOUS INJURY MATTERS 40
Definition of a DSI matter 40
Recording a DSI matter 41
Referral of DSI matters 41
REFERRALS 42
Complaints that must be
referred to the IPCC 42
Conduct matters that must
be referred to the IPCC 43
Referral of DSI matters 43
Mandatory referral criteria 44
Definitions of referral criteria 44
Matters which the IPCC requires
to be referred to it (‘call in’) 47
Deadlines for referral 47
Voluntary referrals 48
Referral of complaints about
direction and control 48
Notification of referral 49
Determining whether and how
a matter should be investigated 49
INVESTIGATIONS 51
Purpose of an investigation 51
Appointment of a person to
carry out the investigation 51
Terms of reference 53
Keeping an audit trail 53
The scope of the investigation 54
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
CONTENTS
1
7
8
9
2
3
4
5
2
6
3Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Allegations involving discrimination 55
Death or serious injury matters
turning into conduct matters 57
Special requirements 57
Severity assessments 58
Notices of investigation 60
Representations to the investigator 60
Interviews 61
Power to suspend an investigation
or other procedure 62
Resumption of a complaint after
criminal proceedings 64
Suspension of officers and
special constables 65
Providing information/communication 65
DISCONTINUANCES 68
When can an investigation be
discontinued by the appropriate
authority 68
When the IPCC’s permission
needs to be obtained 68
Requirement to obtain
representations from the
complainant 70
Grounds for discontinuance 70
Notification 72
Action to be taken following
a discontinuance 72
Appeal against the decision
to discontinue 73
CONCLUDING THE INVESTIGATION 74
The investigation report 74
Criticism 83
Who receives the report? 84
What does the IPCC expect the
appropriate authority to do with
the report? 84
Death or serious injury
investigation outcomes 86
Publication 87
ACTION AFTER THE INVESTIGATION 88
Communication with the complainant
and interested persons after the
conclusion of the investigation 88
Apologies 90
Outcomes for individuals 90
Learning lessons 95
Inquest proceedings 99
APPEALS 100
Principles of appeal handling 100
Who considers the appeal 101
Appeals to the chief officer 103
Appeals to the IPCC 106
Appeal validity 107
Appeals against a failure to notify
or record a complaint or to
determine whether it is the
appropriate authority (non-
recording appeals) 111
Appeals against the decision
to disapply 112
Appeals against the outcome of
the local resolution of a complaint
or the outcome of a complaint
handled otherwise than in
accordance with Schedule 3
of the PRA 2002 116
Appeals against the decision
to discontinue 119
Appeals against investigation 123
DATA COLLECTION
AND MONITORING 131
Responsibilities of the chief officer 131
Responsibilities of the local
policing body 132
The police complaints system
performance framework 133
LEGAL DEFINITIONS 134
CONTENTS continued
10
13
14
15
11
CONTENTS
12
4Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Section 1:
INTRODUCTION
1
Section 1:
INTRODUCTION
1.1 The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has a statutory duty to
secure and maintain public confidence in the police complaints system in England
and Wales. This guidance has an important part to play in this. It is one of the ways
in which the IPCC assists local policing bodies and forces to comply with their legal
obligations and achieve high standards in the handling of complaints, conduct and
death and serious injury (DSI) matters.
1.2 The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 introduced a number of
changes to the police complaints system. These changes have been incorporated
into this guidance.
1.3 This guidance also draws on good practice in complaints handling and, in
particular, the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsmans Principles of Good
Complaints Handling
1
. These are:
getting it right
being customer focused
being open and accountable
acting fairly and proportionately
putting things right
seeking continuous improvement.
1.4 These principles apply to the handling of complaints in many different situations and
are very relevant to dealing with complaints against police officers, special constables
and police staff members. The focus should not be solely on the process involved and
the issue of whether anyone is to blame. Instead, it should be on understanding that a
complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction with the way a person has been treated
or the service he or she has received. Such dissatisfaction needs to be taken seriously
and is an important part of feedback on performance.
1.5 The police complaints system is not straightforward or easy to understand, even for
practitioners. It can be even more difficult for complainants. That is why everyone
involved in administering the system has a responsibility for ensuring that complainants
and other parties are not disadvantaged and that they can access the information they
need in a straightforward way. Accessibility is a vital part of securing public confidence.
1
www.ombudsman.org.uk
5Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 151
Whom the guidance applies to
1.6 The guidance is issued under Section 22 of the Police Reform Act 2002. It applies to
local policing bodies and all 43 Home Office police forces in England and Wales. Local
policing bodies, police officers, police staff members and special constables working
within those forces must all have regard to the guidance. It also applies to those
agencies and non-Home Office forces that have entered into Section 26 or Section
26BA agreements with the IPCC, subject to any particular provisions contained within
those agreements.
1.7 If the people listed above do not follow the guidance, they need to have a sound
rationale for departing from it or risk legal challenge. A failure to have regard to the
guidance is admissible in evidence in any disciplinary proceedings and any appeal
proceedings following a disciplinary decision.
1.8 This guidance is written with the needs of professionals within the police service and
local policing bodies in mind. It is also available to the public and other individuals and
groups who have an interest in the system. In addition, the IPCC has published a range
of other material to assist different audiences.
How the guidance is arranged
The law and IPCC guidance
1.9 The guidance follows, so far as is possible, the chronological order of events in the police
complaints system. Within the main body of the document, the law is highlighted in
boxed text to differentiate it from IPCC guidance. The text in these boxes paraphrases
or explains the law and is not a direct quotation from the legislation. A number of
flowcharts provide a visual representation of some of the more complex processes.
Legal definitions
1.10 Rather than including legal definitions throughout the guidance itself, key terms
and concepts are defined in section 15. As this guidance is primarily intended to be
used electronically, these definitions are accessible through links to section 15. In
the published version, the definitions can be found at the end of the document.
Dealing with allegations of discriminatory behaviour
1.11 It is a matter of real concern to society when a person serving with the police is
perceived to have acted in a discriminatory and partial way. Specific guidance on the
handling of allegations of discriminatory behaviour is included in the guidance. In
addition, the IPCC guidelines on dealing with allegations of discriminatory behaviour
are available as a separate document on the IPCC website. Local policing bodies and
persons serving with the police should have regard to that guidance when dealing
with cases involving allegations of discrimination.
Overview – the three ways into the system
1.12 There are three ways into the system – complaints (see section 3), conduct matters (see
section 6) and DSI matters (see section 7). This guidance covers the initial handling of
Section 1:
INTRODUCTION
6Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
each of these elements separately as there are different considerations and decisions to
be made. From the point of referral to the IPCC, the guidance converges, as the handling
of a referral and the investigation process is broadly the same, regardless of its origin.
Complaints
1.13 The following chart provides an overview of the various stages in handling a complaint,
the decisions that need to be made and the relevant sections of this guidance.
1
Section 1:
INTRODUCTION
Complaint received
Carry out local investigation
Record the complaint
Must/should the
complaint be referred?
Is the complaint
suitable for local
resolution?
Does it fall within
exemptions from
recording?
Section 3 – Complaints
Section 8 – Referrals
Section 5 – Local handling
Section 9 – Investigations
Do not record the
complaint, notify
complainant of
any appeal right to
the IPCC
Refer the complaint
to IPCC
Yes
Yes
Yes
Carry out local
resolution
No
No
No
7Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 151
Conduct matters
1.14 This chart provides an overview of the various stages in dealing with a conduct matter,
the decisions that need to be made and the relevant sections of this guidance.
Section 1:
INTRODUCTION
Conduct matter
Investigation
Record conduct matter
Refer to IPCC
Must/should it
be referred?
Has the IPCC
determined
that it must be
investigated?
Must/should it
be recorded?
Section 6 – Conduct matters
Section 8 – Referrals
Section 9 – Investigations
Not a recordable
conduct matter
Handle in any other
manner (if any) the
appropriate authority
sees fit
If it is referred back to
the appropriate
authority, the
appropriate authority
may handle it in any
manner (if any)
it sees fit
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
8Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 151
Death or serious injury matters
1.15 This chart provides an overview of the various stages in dealing with a DSI matter
and the relevant sections of this guidance.
The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011: changes to the police
complaints system
1.16 The policing landscape and the police complaints system underwent major change
in 2012. Amendments made to the police complaints system by the Government in
the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 were designed to streamline
and remove unnecessary bureaucracy from the system, ensure that complaints are
handled at the lowest appropriate level, and focus more on putting right the
complaint made by a member of the public.
Police accountability
1.17 Local policing bodies (for most areas of the country Police and Crime Commissioners)
are responsible for holding to account the chief officer of their force for how policing
services are delivered in their force area. They should ensure that the chief officer
has appropriate processes in place for dealing with complaints, conduct matters
and DSI matters.
Section 1:
INTRODUCTION
Investigation
Refer to IPCC
Record DSI matter
Has the IPCC
determined
that it must be
investigated?
Section 8 – Referrals
Section 7 – DSI matters
Section 9 – Investigations
If it is referred back
to the appropriate
authority, the
appropriate authority
may handle it in any
manner (if any) as
the appropriate
authority sees fit
No
DSI matter identified
Yes
9Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 151
1.18 Where it appears to a local policing body that the chief officer of the force he or she
maintains has not complied with an obligation under Part 2 of the Police Reform
Act 2002 or has contravened an obligation, the local policing body may direct the
chief officer to take whatever steps the local policing body thinks appropriate. The
chief officer must comply with any directions given in such circumstances by the
local policing body.
1.19 The local policing body is also the appropriate authority for any complaints,
conduct matters, or DSI matters involving the chief officer (or any acting chief
officer) of the force that he or she oversees.
1.20 Chief officers are responsible for holding to account everyone in their force. This
now includes responsibility as the appropriate authority for complaints and other
matters concerning senior officers.
Recording complaints
1.21 Accurate and consistent recording practice plays a significant part in ensuring
public confidence in the complaints system and contributes to a sound evidence
base to inform the development of future policy and good practice. All complaints
must be recorded unless certain limited circumstances apply. These circumstances
are defined in legislation.
2
1.22 The definition of a ‘complaint now includes direction and control matters. These
complaints must be recorded in the same way as complaints about police conduct.
The distinction between complaints about conduct and complaints about direction
and control is not important at the recording stage. It is, however, vital that complaints
are classified correctly as either direction and control matters or conduct. This is
because the right of appeal in relation to direction and control complaints is more
limited than the right of appeal for conduct complaints. This guidance stresses that
only a limited range of matters should be classified as direction and control.
Local handling
1.23 The complainants consent is no longer required in order to resolve a complaint
locally. However, for local resolution to be successful it must remain a two-way
dialogue. Complaints stand the best chance of being resolved to the complainants
satisfaction if he or she is taken seriously, and if the person handling the complaint
works with the complainant to understand the reason for his or her dissatisfaction
and what he or she would consider an appropriate outcome.
1.24 The IPCC believes that when it is carried out effectively and is used appropriately,
local resolution of less serious matters has a key part to play in the complaints
system and in ensuring public confidence. Accordingly, this guidance places
increased emphasis on local resolution.
2
The Police Reform Act 2002 and The Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012.
Section 1:
INTRODUCTION
10Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 151
Disapplication and discontinuance
1.25 In certain limited circumstances local policing bodies and chief officers now have
the discretion to disapply Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002 or to end an
investigation early where specific grounds are met. This means that they may be
able, in certain limited and specified circumstances, not to deal with the complaint
in accordance with Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002 or to discontinue a
local investigation without applying to the IPCC for permission. Where the local
policing body or chief officer has used this discretion, the complainant may have a
right to appeal the disapplication or discontinuance decision.
Outcomes
1.26 Changes to the system have emphasised the importance of complaints and other
matters resulting in a proper outcome. The nature of a proper outcome is entirely
dependent on the facts and circumstances of any individual case, and so this guidance
does not attempt to prescribe what proper outcomes should be. The IPCC considers,
however, that any proper outcome will:
take into account the initial complaint or allegation (where there is one)
take into account the views of the complainant or interested person (where
there is a complainant or interested person)
be based upon the facts established
be appropriate to the seriousness of the circumstances.
Appeals
1.27 Chief officers now have responsibility for handling certain appeals. All appeals
about the recording of complaints will continue to be dealt with by the IPCC. The
IPCC will also deal with any appeal concerning a complaint about the conduct of a
senior officer or complaints that have been or must be referred to the IPCC.
1.28 For any other type of appeal, a test is set out in the regulations to determine
whether that appeal should be dealt with by the IPCC or by the relevant chief officer.
This test should be applied to the substance of the complaint, not using hindsight
and information that has been gathered during the handling of the complaint. If a
complaint satisfies any of the criteria laid down in the test, then the relevant appeal
body is the IPCC. If not, the relevant appeal body is the chief officer. See section 13
for detailed guidance on appeals.
1.29 It is anticipated that chief officers will delegate many of their responsibilities for
complaint handling and determining appeals. (References to chief officers in this
guidance include those people who have delegated authority to act on the chief
officer’s behalf.) This is permitted by the regulations, but chief officers should always
be mindful of the need for public confidence in the arrangements they make. It is
important that those who might be affected by decisions made under delegated
powers can have confidence that the person to whom the power is delegated is able
to act impartially.
Section 1:
INTRODUCTION
11Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 151
Unsatisfactory performance procedures
1.30 In addition to making recommendations and directions about misconduct
proceedings, in certain circumstances the IPCC is now able to recommend and direct
the use of unsatisfactory performance procedures (or equivalent procedures for police
staff members). It is important that these procedures are used where appropriate
in order to allow officers and police staff members to improve their performance,
thereby improving the performance of the force as a whole. It is also vital that
appropriate authorities inform the complainant or interested person of the outcome
of unsatisfactory performance procedures as this is as relevant to him or her as the
outcome of any misconduct proceedings. See paragraphs 12.25-12.34 for more
information about unsatisfactory performance procedures.
IPCC oversight of relevant office holders
1.31 The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 introduced Police and Crime
Commissioners and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime. Collectively, Police
and Crime Commissioners, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and their
appointed Deputies are called ‘relevant office holders’.
1.32 The IPCC will be responsible for deciding whether a complaint or any indication that
a relevant office holder has committed a criminal offence should be investigated
and, if so, how it will be investigated. This guidance does not apply to complaints
about relevant office holders. It is likely that the IPCC will issue separate guidance
about dealing with such matters once we have experience of these cases.
1.33 The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 brought contractors within
the jurisdiction of the IPCC. Matters relating to contractors will be dealt with in a
similar way to those relating to the police however they are governed by separate
regulations. This guidance does not apply to the handling of complaints, conduct
matters and DSI matters in relation to contractors. The IPCC will issue separate
guidance about dealing with such matters.
Section 1:
INTRODUCTION
12Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Section 2:
PROMOTING
ACCESS
2
2.1 All those in the police service and those overseeing it share responsibility for
increasing awareness of the police complaints system and promoting access to it.
This section sets out the minimum standards for providing information about the
system and making it accessible to those who need to use it.
The importance of an accessible system
2.2 Easy access to the complaints system is a vital component of securing public
confidence in the system itself. Complaints can provide valuable feedback about
the service provided by the police and are an important source of learning to help
forces improve the service they offer.
2.3 All organisations involved with the complaints system have a responsibility for ensuring
that members of the public can easily and quickly find information about how to make
a complaint and what to expect when their complaint is being dealt with.
2.4 IPCC research indicates that most people want to complain directly to their local
police force. However, it also shows that many complainants who come to the IPCC
do so because they have not succeeded in making a complaint direct to the police.
3
This underlines the need for forces and local policing bodies to have robust
strategies for promoting access.
Providing information and access
2.5 Chief officers and local policing bodies should ensure that information about how to
complain is easily available. Forces and local policing bodies should provide their own
information about the complaints system. Information needs to be easy to find, clear,
accurate, comprehensible and up to date. Forces should publish information on their
websites
4
as well as producing printed information, such as leaflets. Local policing
bodies should provide information on their websites about how to make a complaint
about the chief officer in addition to signposting complaints information on the force
website. The IPCC expects forces and local policing bodies to include a link to
information about the complaints system on the front page of their websites.
Section 2:
PROMOTING ACCESS
3
IPCC (2010) Direct complaints survey: a survey seeking feedback from people who complain directly to the IPCC. IPCC research note 3.
4
www.ipcc.gov.uk has suggested structure and content for complaints information on force websites.
13Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 152
2.6 Information should be available when and where it may be needed, for example, in
police stations or other places where members of the public may have contact with
police. The information should tell people what they can and cannot expect from the
complaints system. Posters that convey information about the complaints system
should be displayed in public areas of police premises, particularly custody areas and
front desks. It is also useful to disseminate information through non-police premises
or organisations – for example libraries, Citizens Advice Bureaux, schools or voluntary
sector organisations.
2.7 Forces and local policing bodies should ensure that the information they provide
gives prominence to information about how to make a complaint direct to the force
(or local policing body where the complaint is about the conduct of a chief officer or
acting chief officer) rather than to the IPCC. It should make clear when the force or
local policing body is required to record complaints and that complaints made to the
IPCC will automatically be passed to the force or local policing body for recording
unless there are exceptional circumstances that justify not passing it on.
2.8 Forces and local policing bodies should also provide members of the public with
information about appeals and to whom an appeal may be made in different
circumstances. This information must always be provided to a complainant
whenever a decision that carries a right of appeal is communicated to him or her.
It is also best practice to advise the complainant of the precise date by which an
appeal should be submitted.
2.9 Forces and local policing bodies should make a range of channels available for
people who wish to make a complaint. These should include paper-based forms,
online forms, an email address and telephone lines.
2.10 Forces and local policing bodies should take into account a complainant’s or interested
persons stated preference as to the method of communication (for example,
telephone call, email or letter) when providing him or her with information. However,
this guidance requires certain information to be provided in writing. This may not only
reflect a statutory requirement, but also ensures that a formal record exists of the
information provided or action taken. Written communication avoids uncertainty in
those situations where there is a dispute about what may have been said or have
taken place.
Complainants who need additional assistance
2.11 It is vital that the complaints system is available to all members of the public,
including those with special access requirements – especially as these are often
people whose confidence in the police complaints system is lower. Provision should
also be made for people who wish to make a complaint or need information about
the complaints system in another language, including sign language, or who need
information such as leaflets, letters and documents provided in other languages or
formats such as Braille, audio or easy read.
2.12 Chief officers and local policing bodies must take into account their obligations
under the Equality Act 2010.
Section 2:
PROMOTING
ACCESS
14Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 152
2.13 Some people may require adjustments to be made to usual procedures in order
to enable them to use the complaints system. It might be, for example, that:
the complainant has learning difficulties;
the complainant has mental health difficulties;
the complainant is a young person under 16;
English is not the complainant’s first language;
effective communication is through the spoken and not the written word;
the complainant’s effective means of communication is sign language; or
the complainant is vulnerable or disadvantaged in some other way.
2.14 It should always be presumed that a person who wishes to make a complaint
possesses the capacity to do so (i.e. the ability to make decisions) unless it is
established that he or she does not.
2.15 The assistance of a relative, carer or other representative may be necessary to
enable the complainant’s wishes to be expressed sufficiently for the complainants
intentions to be clear. However, in some cases, additional support may be required.
Forces and local policing bodies should always consider what adjustments may be
appropriate in the circumstances.
2.16 Chief officers and local policing bodies should explicitly recognise the role of
feedback received through the complaints system within their diversity strategy
and use this diversity strategy to complement and support measures put in place
to ensure broad access to the complaints system.
Complaints made by young people under 16
2.17 A young person under 16 should not normally need to provide written permission
for a parent, guardian or advocate (for example, a teacher or social worker) to make a
complaint on his or her behalf. In many cases a young person who makes a complaint
against a person serving with the police will be supported by a parent, guardian, or
other appropriate adult. If this is not the case, this should not prevent him or her
from making a complaint.
2.18 The appropriate authority will need to consider whether a parent or guardian
should be informed of the complaint and involved in the complaints process or
whether another form of support would be appropriate to assist the young person
in navigating through the complaints system. The young persons wishes in relation
to the involvement of a parent, guardian or advocate should be taken into account,
having regard to the principle in case law
5
that young people under the age of 16
are able to give valid consent (and refuse parental involvement) provided they have
sufficient understanding and intelligence to enable them to understand fully
what is proposed.
Section 2:
PROMOTING
ACCESS
5
Gillick v West Norfolk & Wisbech Area Health Authority [1986] AC 112.
Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
15
2
2.19 The appropriate authority has a responsibility to ensure that a young person
understands the process and the potential outcomes when making a complaint.
Support should be provided to young people not only in their initial access to the
police complaints system, but throughout the handling of their complaint – for
example, ensuring that they understand the local resolution process or providing
them with appropriate support should they need to give evidence at criminal or
disciplinary proceedings.
2.20 When communicating with young people about complaints, the appropriate
authority should bear in mind that the system is complex and that it might be
necessary to take more steps to ensure that there is a proper explanation. The
appropriate authority should also take into account the fact that they may find
the idea of dealing with a formal complaints process intimidating or off-putting.
Reassurance may be required about the framework for dealing with the complaint.
Section 2:
PROMOTING
ACCESS
Section 3:
COMPLAINTS
Section 3:
COMPLAINTS
3.1 This section sets out the framework for the initial stages of dealing with a complaint.
The way in which a complaint is dealt with at the outset can have a significant effect
on the complainant’s perceptions of the complaints system as a whole. It is, therefore,
important that decisions are made and communicated in a timely manner and that
they are explained clearly.
3.2 The section covers:
the initial handling of a complaint
the legal definition of a complaint
direction and control
recording a complaint
deciding how to handle a complaint.
Initial handling
3.3 The primary focus of the initial handling of a complaint should be to resolve it, with the
exception of certain serious complaints, which must be referred to the IPCC. The fact
that someone has made a complaint means that he or she is dissatisfied with the way
he or she has been treated or with the service that he or she has received. This needs to
be taken seriously and the concerns of the complainant should be addressed as soon
after receiving the complaint as possible. Speed is important as a complaint is more
likely to be successfully resolved if the force is seen to respond promptly. This gives
the complainant a clear message that his or her concerns are being taken seriously.
3.4 The police complaints system is not straightforward or easy to understand, particularly
for complainants. Those receiving complaints should ensure that complainants are
given the information they need to enable them to navigate through the system. This
means that when a complaint is submitted, whether in writing, over the telephone or
in person, the complainant should receive, as soon as possible, an explanation of the
possible ways in which the complaint may be dealt with.
3.5 When a complaint is received, the complainant should be advised who is dealing with
the complaint and given their contact details. The person dealing with the complaint
should establish exactly what the complaint is about and what the complainant
would regard as a satisfactory outcome. This should happen as soon as possible and, if
possible, at the time the complaint is received i.e. during the initial phone call or over
the counter. A personal approach is more likely to be successful than simply sending a
letter, although a written record will always be required.
Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16
17Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
3.6 It is important to be realistic with the complainant about what may be a likely or
achievable outcome to his or her complaint and the reasons for this. While it may
not be possible to deliver the desired outcomes, a complainant who considers that
his or her complaint was handled well and that his or her views were properly
considered is less likely to remain dissatisfied at the conclusion of the process.
3.7 Chief officers are responsible for ensuring that all officers and police staff with public-
facing duties are aware of, and able to advise the public about, how to make a
complaint and what to expect if they do. Similarly, local policing bodies should ensure
that members of their staff are able to deal with complaints about the chief officer. If
the officer or staff member is not able to deal with the complaint him or herself, he or
she should take the contact details of the person and pass them to those responsible
for dealing with complaints. Someone from that team should make contact with the
member of the public as soon as possible and in any event within two working days.
However, earlier contact with the complainant may be required, for example, where
the complaint is particularly serious, requires referral to the IPCC (see timescales for
referral in text box on page 47) or the complainant is vulnerable.
3.8 Where it becomes apparent that those taking complaints are dealing with a
vulnerable or intimidated complainant it may be more appropriate to take an initial
account and make further arrangements to enable a fuller account to be taken by
those with appropriate experience or training. The person dealing with the complaint
should act professionally and offer reassurance when taking details of any allegation.
Definition of a complaint
3.9 A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction by a member of the public about the
conduct of a person serving with the police. This could, for example, be about the
way the person has been treated or the service he or she has received. A complaint
does not need to be communicated in writing nor does it need to say explicitly it is
a complaint. It can simply be a statement of dissatisfaction.
3.10 The previous distinction between conduct and direction and control no longer
applies to the definition of a complaint. However, the distinction does impact upon
the complainant’s right of appeal.
Section 3:
COMPLAINTS
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Section 3:
COMPLAINTS
Who can complain?
3.11 Written consent should be clear and unambiguous. It need not be in English.
A complaint may be made by any of the following:
a member of the public who claims that the conduct took place in relation
to him or her
a member of the public who claims to have been adversely affected by the
conduct, even though it did not take place in relation to him or her
a member of the public who claims to have witnessed the conduct
a person acting on behalf of someone who falls within any of the three
categories above.
A person can only be considered as having been authorised to act on behalf of
another for the purposes of making a complaint if he or she has and is able to
produce written consent from that person.
Section 12, Police Reform Act 2002
The following persons cannot make a complaint under the Police Reform Act 2002:
i. a person who at the time of the alleged conduct was under the direction and
control of the same chief officer as the person whose conduct it was; or
ii. a person serving with the police, a member of staff of the Serious Organised
Crime Agency or the National Policing Improvement Agency or a person on
relevant service (falling within the meaning of section 97(1)(a) or (d) of the Police
Act 1996) if he or she was on duty at the time that:
the conduct took place in relation to him or her; or
he or she was adversely affected by it; or
he or she witnessed it.
Section 29, Police Reform Act 2002
Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance
3.12 This does not mean that a person serving with the police cannot raise concerns
about the conduct of other people serving within their own force. However, the
person serving with the police who raises the concern does not have any of the
statutory rights of a complainant. Police forces and local policing bodies should
ensure that there are adequate systems in place to support and protect people
serving with the police who want to raise concerns about the conduct of their
colleagues. This might include extending confidentiality to anyone raising such
a concern, as far as this is possible and appropriate.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
18
Section 3:
COMPLAINTS
Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance
3.13 In the first instance, a person serving with the police should consider raising concerns
within his or her own force. However, as a supplement to existing force practices the
IPCC has a ‘report line’. This is a dedicated phone line and email address for the use of
people serving with the police wishing to report that someone serving with the police
may have committed a criminal offence or behaved in a way that would justify
misconduct proceedings. People serving with the police can get contact details of the
IPCC report line from their professional standards department, staff association or
trade union.
Partners and relatives
3.14 A partner or relative of someone who has served or is serving with the police will not
be able to make a complaint on that person’s behalf if the exclusion discussed in the
box above applies to the person who is serving or who has served with the police.
3.15 Forces should be open to the possibility that a partner or relative may make a complaint
in an attempt to circumvent the exclusions from the complaints system. Where this is
believed to be the case consideration should be given to whether the complaint falls
within the exemptions from recording as a vexatious complaint or as an abuse of
procedure (see paragraphs 3.17 to 3.20). For example, if a partner or relative of a person
serving with the police complains about a disciplinary process in relation to their family
member or the way he or she is being treated at work this may be considered to be an
abuse of process as there are proper means by which the person serving with the police
can raise such issues. The complaints system is not intended to deal with internal
employment issues.
3.16 It should not automatically be assumed, however, that a complaint made by a
partner or relative is either vexatious or an abuse of procedure as he or she might
legitimately claim to have witnessed, or been adversely affected by, the conduct
alleged and so may become a complainant in his or her own right.
Recording a complaint
3.17 ‘Recording’ in this context means that a record is made of the complaint giving it
formal status as a complaint under the Police Reform Act 2002. This means that it
has to be handled in accordance with this legislation and this guidance. Complaints
should be recorded in some form of register, which can be readily accessed and
inspected by the IPCC if required.
3.18 Some complaints will be ‘mixed’ i.e. a single complaint may involve a combination
of allegations directed at the chief officer and at other ranks or personnel in the
wider police force. The local policing body and chief officer should, therefore, have
procedures in place to direct the relevant parts of the complaint to the correct
appropriate authority to deal with (there is no requirement for consent from the
complainant to forward the complaint in these circumstances). Thereafter, they
should ensure that handling by each authority is co-ordinated as necessary.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
19
Section 3:
COMPLAINTS
Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance
3.19 If a persons complaint can be dealt with there and then, to the satisfaction of the
person making the complaint, there is no need to record it under the Police Reform
Act 2002, provided he or she confirms that he or she is withdrawing the complaint.
However, it may be valuable to keep a log of such issues as there may still be learning
to be gained from them. In all other circumstances the complaint should be recorded
unless it falls within the exemptions listed below.
3.20 If it is apparent at the time of making a recording decision that one of these
exemptions applies to a complaint, the appropriate authority may decide not to
record the complaint. If the complaint is recorded (because it is not apparent at the
time of recording that an exemption applies), but the appropriate authority then
decides that the complaint should not be dealt with under the Police Reform Act
2002, it may consider whether disapplication is appropriate (see section 4).
3.21 The IPCC expects a recording decision to be made within ten working days of receipt
of a complaint or notification, but ideally it should happen as soon as possible after
the complaint is received.
The appropriate authority must record the complaint unless:
i. it is satisfied that the subject matter of the complaint has been, or is being,
dealt with by criminal or disciplinary proceedings against the person whose
conduct it was;
ii. the complaint has been withdrawn; or
iii. the complaint falls within a description of complaints specified by the Police
(Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012
The complaints that are specified by the Police (Complaints and Misconduct)
Regulations 2012 are those where the appropriate authority considers that:
i. the matter is already the subject of a complaint made by or on behalf of the
same complainant;
ii. the complaint discloses neither the name and address of the complainant nor
that of any other interested person and it is not reasonably practicable to
ascertain such a name or address;
iii. the complaint is vexatious, oppressive or otherwise an abuse of the procedures
for dealing with complaints;
iv. the complaint is repetitious; or
v. the complaint is fanciful.
Paragraph 2, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
Regulation 3, Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012
20
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
21Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 153
3.22 If a decision is made not to record a complaint, there should be an audit trail which
shows that recording has been considered, the reason why the complaint has not
been recorded and what other action, if any, is to be taken.
3.23 Any complaint about direction and control should be recorded and handled in the
same way as a complaint about conduct. It is, however, important that complaints are
classified correctly as either direction and control or conduct as there is an important
distinction between them in relation to appeal rights. This is because the right of
appeal in relation to direction and control matters is much more limited than the right
of appeal for conduct complaints. There is no requirement to inform the complainant
of the classification at this stage.
3.24 A direction and control’ matter means a matter that relates to the direction and control
of a police force by the chief officer or someone carrying out the chief officer’s functions
for the time being. The IPCC considers the term direction and control to mean general
decisions about how a force is run, as opposed to the day-to-day decisions or actions
of persons serving with the police, which affect individual members of the public
including those that affect more than one individual. ‘Conduct’ includes acts, omissions,
statements and decisions.
6
3.25 The table below shows some of the types of complaints that should be classified as
direction and control and those that should be classified as conduct. There will be
cases where it is not clear whether a matter is about direction and control. In such
cases, the IPCC expects the matter not to be treated as direction and control.
Section 3:
COMPLAINTS
Where a complaint is recorded under the Police Reform Act 2002, the appropriate
authority must supply:
a copy of the record made of that complaint to the complainant; and
subject to the matters below, a copy of the complaint to the person complained
against.
The copy of the complaint provided may keep the complainant’s or any other
persons identity anonymous.
An appropriate authority may decide not to supply such a copy of a complaint if it
considers that to do so:
might prejudice any criminal investigation or pending proceedings, or
would otherwise be contrary to the public interest.
If an appropriate authority decides not to supply such a copy, it must keep the
decision under regular review.
Regulation 15 (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012
6
Section 29, Police Reform Act 2002.
22Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 153
Off-duty conduct
3.26 Depending on the circumstances, off-duty conduct may fall within the Police
Reform Act 2002. If the complaint is about conduct which, if proved, discredits the
police service or undermines public confidence in it then it may be recorded under
the Police Reform Act 2002.
Complaints about discriminatory behaviour
3.27 It is important that the police service is seen to police a diverse society and
community fairly. People may belong to one or more minority groups, but this
should not have a negative effect on the service they receive from the police.
3.28 People from minority groups may be reluctant to express their belief that a problem
they have experienced is rooted in discriminatory attitudes. This may, for example,
be because a complainant is reluctant to disclose his or her sexuality or to disclose a
mental health problem for fear that this may affect the investigator’s attitude to the
merit of a complaint. To overcome this, people dealing with complaints should
encourage complainants to explain why they think a person serving with the
police behaved the way that he or she did and demonstrate a willingness to
accept and investigate this aspect of the allegation.
3.29 In addition to training on processes, people dealing with complaints should receive
specific formal and informal training to develop their ability to identify discrimination.
This training should stress that discrimination is not always overt, and that it can
be necessary to look at all the circumstances of a particular case in order to see
Section 3:
COMPLAINTS
Direction and control
Operational management decisions
directed to the police force – including
force-wide crime initiatives and the
making of general strategic decisions
about how certain police powers
should be exercised.
The drafting of operational policing
policies and the process leading to
their approval.
Organisational decisions – including
decisions about the configuration and
organisation of policing resources, where
officers or police staff should be located,
how they should be managed, and what
equipment should be procured for them.
General policing standards in the force.
Conduct
The making of a specific decision
on the deployment of officers for a
particular investigation or operation.
The decision to (or not to) arrest and
prosecute a particular suspect for a
certain crime.
Decisions about the deployment
of a particular tactic on a particular
occasion, and the use of that tactic.
The application of force policies, in
particular, circumstances where the
application of the policy involves an
officer exercising their discretion.
Day-to-day operational decisions
made in response to a particular set
of circumstances that have arisen.
23Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 153
if discrimination can rightly be inferred from the surrounding facts. Such an exploration
of the surrounding circumstances should include, as a matter of course, consideration of
the standard practice and guidelines in relation to the particular activity complained
of, and the historic patterns of behaviour of the officer(s) or staff member(s) to whose
conduct the investigation relates. Investigators should be alert to the need to undertake
this level of enquiry.
3.30 If a statement of complaint is taken this should cover what happened and what was
seen, heard, felt and thought. It is essential that allegations of discrimination are
given in sufficient detail to identify why the complainant believes discrimination
was a factor. In particular, the following information should be recorded:
what was it that made the complainant believe the person serving with the
police’s words or actions were discriminatory?
did the complainant note any differences in the way he or she was treated
compared with others?
did the complainant note any differences in the way that this person serving
with the police behaved compared with other persons serving with the police
(either on this or previous occasions)?
was there anything about the person serving with the police’s language that
the complainant noted?
what was the impact on the complainant?
did anyone else witness the incident and were any comments or reactions
expressed to the complainant at the time or since?
Who can be complained about?
3.31 The person whose conduct can be complained about must be serving with the
police i.e. be a police officer, police staff member or special constable. Volunteers
(other than special constables) are not covered by this definition.
3.32 The Police Reform Act 2002 and the Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations
2012 apply to contracted out staff who are designated as a detention officer or
escort officer by a chief officer insofar as the complaint relates to (or other instance
of misconduct involves) the carrying out of these functions for the purposes of any
power or duty imposed or conferred by the designation.
Complaints about people who no longer work for the police
Complaints relating to the conduct of a person who since the time of the conduct has
stopped serving with the police must be handled in the same way under the Police
Reform Act 2002 as any other complaint. However, the appropriate authority will not
be required to determine whether disciplinary proceedings should be brought against
that person whose conduct is the subject matter of a report.
Regulation 27, Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012
Section 3:
COMPLAINTS
24Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 153
3.33 It is recommended that in such circumstances, the investigator should seek to
obtain an explanation or statement from an individual who has left the force
although it may not be possible to compel him or her to co-operate.
3.34 The local resolution or investigation of the matter may provide an opportunity for an
explanation to be given to the complainant or, where relevant, the interested person.
It may also enable the police to learn lessons. Although disciplinary proceedings will
not result against someone who is no longer serving with the police, criminal
proceedings could be brought if appropriate.
Decisions not to notify or record a complaint
Where a chief officer or a local policing body decides not to notify or record the
whole or any part of a complaint that has been received, he or she must notify
the complainant in writing of:
the decision to take no action and, where applicable, to what part of the
complaint this decision relates;
the grounds for that decision;
the complainants right of appeal, where applicable (see section 13) and;
that the right of appeal is to the IPCC; and
the time limit for making an appeal.
Paragraph 3, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
Regulation 11, Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012
Deciding how to handle a complaint
Referral
3.35 People who receive complaints should have an understanding of which complaints or
types of complaints need to be referred to the IPCC and which do not. For information
about referrals see section 8.
Local resolution
3.36 If a complaint does not need to be referred to the IPCC (and is unlikely to result in
voluntary referral), the appropriate authority must decide whether it is suitable for
local resolution. For information about local resolution see section 5.
Local investigation
3.37 Where a complaint is not suitable for local resolution it must be investigated. For
information about investigating a complaint see section 9.
Disapplication
3.38 If the appropriate authority believes a complaint should not be dealt with in line with
Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002 and it meets one of the disapplication grounds,
he or she may consider disapplication. For information about disapplication see section 4.
Section 3:
COMPLAINTS
25Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Section 4:
DISAPPLICATION
4
4.1 There are certain limited circumstances in which a recorded complaint does not have
to be dealt with under the Police Reform Act 2002. This is called disapplication and
means that an appropriate authority may disapply the requirements of Schedule 3 of
the Police Reform Act 2002 in relation to a complaint. The appropriate authority may
instead handle a recorded complaint in whatever manner it thinks fit, including taking
no action on it. A disapplication may only take place if the complaint fits one or more
of the grounds described at paragraphs 4.7 to 4.19.
4.2 Disapplication should only happen in relation to a small proportion of complaints.
It is available so that a complaint which falls within one of the grounds listed at
paragraphs 4.7 to 4.19 does not create an unnecessary burden on the force involved.
Disapplication should never be used simply because the complaint will be difficult
to deal with or because of a problematic relationship with the complainant.
When can disapplication be carried out by the appropriate authority?
Disapplication can only be used for recorded complaints that:
have been referred to the IPCC and it has referred the complaint back to the
appropriate authority;
have been referred to the IPCC and it has determined the form of investigation; or
are not required to be referred to the IPCC.
Before deciding to carry out a disapplication or making an application to the IPCC for
permission to disapply, the appropriate authority must write to the complainant at his
or her last known address inviting him or her to make representations. The letter must
state that the complainant has 28 days from the day following the date of the letter
to make any representations. Any representations that are made must be taken into
account before a final decision to disapply or submit an application for permission to
the IPCC is taken as they may affect the appropriate authority’s decision.
Paragraphs 6 and 7, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
Regulation 5, Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012
Section 4:
DISAPPLICATION
26Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 154
When the IPCC’s permission needs to be obtained
Where a complaint has been referred to the IPCC and has either been referred back
to the appropriate authority or the IPCC has determined the form of an investigation,
the IPCC’s permission must be obtained to disapply Schedule 3 of the Police Reform
Act 2002.
The appropriate authority must notify the complainant about the making of such
an application.
Paragraph 7, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
4.3 In practice, an application to disapply is usually only likely to occur when a
complaint has been referred back or on a local or supervised investigation,
and unlikely to occur on a managed or independent one.
While the application to disapply is being considered, the appropriate authority
must not take any action in relation to that complaint (other than those to obtain
and preserve evidence relating to it).
Paragraph 7, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
Information to be sent to the IPCC
Any application to the IPCC to disapply Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002
must be in writing. The appropriate authority must provide:
the application;
a copy of the complaint;
an explanation of the reasons for making the application;
copies of any other relevant documents or materials held by it.
The appropriate authority must provide any other information required by the IPCC
to determine any application to disapply.
Regulation 5, Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012
4.4 Information provided to the IPCC with the application must include any evidence of
representations being sought from the complainant, any representations received
and how these were taken into account when deciding to make the application.
4.5 This information must be provided as soon as is reasonably practicable, unless
the IPCC notifies the appropriate authority that it requires the information by a
specified deadline.
Section 4:
DISAPPLICATION
27Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 154
If the IPCC does not grant permission to disapply
If the IPCC does not grant permission for the appropriate authority to disapply, then
the complaint will be passed back to the appropriate authority to determine whether
it should locally resolve it and, if not, to investigate it.
Paragraph 7, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
4.6 When making this determination the appropriate authority should take into
account any decisions or directions made by the IPCC when the complaint was
originally referred.
The appropriate authority cannot make more than one application for permission
from the IPCC in respect of the same complaint.
Paragraph 7, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
Grounds for disapplication
More than 12 months have elapsed between the incident, or the latest incident, giving
rise to the complaint and the making of the complaint and either that no good reason
for the delay has been shown or that injustice would be likely to be caused by the delay.
4.7 A 12-month delay is not enough on its own for this ground to apply. One or other of
these two criteria must be met as well. They are, however, separate. This means that if
12 months have passed between the incident (or the latest incident in a chain of events)
and the making of the complaint, and no good reason for the delay has been shown,
disapplication may be possible. Disapplication can take place on this ground even
though the delay is not likely to result in injustice. It also means that if 12 months have
passed between the incident (or the latest incident in a chain of events) and the making
of the complaint and injustice is likely to be caused by the delay, disapplication may be
possible even though good reason for the delay has been shown.
4.8 When deciding whether injustice is likely to be caused by the delay, the appropriate
authority should consider the need to balance this against any injustice potentially
caused by not investigating the complaint.
4.9 Each case should be considered on its merits and the complainants reasons for the
delay should be taken into account when making a decision about disapplication. This is
why it is important that appropriate authorities seek the complainant’s representations
about the delay, its reasons and whether any injustice is likely to be caused.
Section 4:
DISAPPLICATION
28Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 154
The matter is already the subject of a complaint made by or on behalf of the
same complainant.
4.10 A matter is considered to be already subject of a complaint where a complaint
is made against the same officer originally complained of, relating to the same
subject matter and by (or on behalf of) the same complainant.
4.11 Any representations from the complainant may explain whether or how the new
complaint differs from the original complaint.
4.12 In practice, this ground applies where the handling of the original complaint is still
ongoing. If the original complaint has been dealt with, the appropriate authority
should consider whether the ‘repetitious’ disapplication ground applies (see
paragraph 4.17).
4.13 The appropriate authority should be able to provide evidence of the previous
complaint(s) and how the current one is already the subject of a complaint before
either deciding to disapply or making an application to the IPCC.
The complaint discloses neither the name and address of the complainant nor that of
any other interested person and it is not reasonably practicable to ascertain such a
name or address.
4.14 Where possible, the appropriate authority should attempt to discover the identity
and address of, and contact, the person making the complaint, or any other
interested person. There should be more than one attempt and various methods of
communication should be used. The appropriate authority should allow time for the
complainant or interested person to make contact before disapplying or making an
application to the IPCC. The time allowed should be determined on a case-by-case
basis, but should be reasonable, taking into account the circumstances and subject
matter of the complaint.
The complaint is vexatious, oppressive or otherwise an abuse of the procedures for
dealing with complaints.
4.15 It is important to note that it is the complaint itself that must be judged vexatious,
oppressive or an abuse, not the complainant. Consideration of this ground should
therefore focus primarily on the current complaint. The complainant’s past complaint
history may, however, be taken into account where it is relevant to show that the
current complaint is vexatious, oppressive or an abuse.
4.16 The appropriate authority should be able to demonstrate with evidence a reasonable
belief that the complaint is vexatious, oppressive or an abuse of process before
deciding to disapply or making an application to the IPCC. Some assessment of the
complaint will be required in order to demonstrate this.
Section 4:
DISAPPLICATION
29Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 154
The complaint is repetitious.
4.17 Any representations from the complainant may explain whether or how the new
complaint differs from the original complaint or conduct matter.
It is not reasonably practicable to complete the investigation of the complaint or any
other procedures under Schedule 3 to the Police Reform Act 2002.
4.18 Before considering a disapplication on this ground the appropriate authority
should ensure that:
reasonable efforts have been made to contact the complainant (i.e. more than
one attempt) and to gain his or her co-operation, using a range of appropriate
methods, for example, letter, email or telephone;
efforts were made to work through the complainant’s representative;
practical help was made available to support a complainant with
specific needs;
reasonable efforts have been made to overcome any obstacle preventing
completion of the investigation or any other procedure;
reasonable efforts have been made to overcome any obstacle preventing the
complaint being dealt with; and
the impact of the refusal or failure is sufficient to justify not completing an
investigation or any other procedure under Schedule 3.
4.19 There are many reasons why it may not be practicable to communicate with the
complainant or person acting on his or her behalf. Where there is sufficient information
to proceed with an investigation of the complaint or any other procedure this should be
carried out. If it is not possible to proceed without further communication with the
complainant, disapplication may be appropriate.
Partial disapplication
4.20 Where a complaint is made up of multiple allegations, only some may be suitable
for disapplication. For example, some aspects of a complaint may be repetitious
while others are not. In such cases disapplication may be carried out, or applied for,
in respect of those parts of the complaint.
Appeals against the decision to subject the complaint to disapplication
4.21 There is a right of appeal against any decision by the appropriate authority to
disapply (except where the complaint relates to a direction and control matter
or where the IPCC gave permission for the disapplication). For further information
about this see paragraphs 13.43 to 13.60.
Section 4:
DISAPPLICATION
30Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Section 5:
LOCAL
HANDLING
5
5.1 The great majority of complaints will not need to be referred to the IPCC and will be
handled, at least initially, by the appropriate authority (usually forces themselves).
Local handling covers a wide range of activity. Some can be dealt with through local
resolution. This is a process which focuses on resolving the complaint in the most
appropriate way, and which therefore allows the appropriate authority to work with
a complainant to take the necessary action (see below for more detail). However,
local resolution cannot be used for complaints that reach a certain threshold of
seriousness. Those complaints must be dealt with by a formal local investigation,
which may result in disciplinary or criminal sanctions, and carry a right of appeal
to the IPCC if the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome.
5.2 It is important that appropriate authorities understand which complaints can be
dealt with by local resolution and which require investigation. This section describes
the process of local resolution and the threshold test to be applied in using it.
Section 9 describes the process of local investigation.
5.3 The primary focus of the person handling a complaint, regardless of the process
followed, should be to resolve the complaint.
5.4 When a complaint is made, the person dealing with it should establish exactly what the
complaint is about and what the complainant would regard as a satisfactory outcome.
A personal approach to this is more likely to be successful than sending a letter as a
conversation will allow for any issues or concerns to be explored in more detail.
5.5 It is important to be clear with the complainant about what may be a realistic
outcome to his or her complaint and the reasons for this. While it may not be possible
to deliver the desired outcome, an explanation to the complainant at an early stage
will help them to understand what is likely to happen as a result of their complaint.
5.6 The person handling the complaint should discuss with the complainant the actions
that may be taken to deal with their complaint. The aim should be to engage in a
dialogue about how the complaint will be dealt with. An effective relationship with
the complainant from the outset should assist in the handling of the complaint and
reduce the likelihood of an eventual appeal. It is also important when speaking to
the complainant that the focus is on the actions to be taken in order to achieve a
satisfactory outcome, rather than on the process to be followed (i.e. local resolution
or investigation).
Section 5:
LOCAL HANDLING
31Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 155
5.7 The complainant should be informed of what practical action or learning may result
from their complaint. It is important that appropriate authorities demonstrate to
complainants and communities their willingness to learn from the complaints made
against them and demonstrate that the complaints process does lead to improved
police practice.
Local resolution
5.8 Local resolution is a flexible process that can be adapted to the needs of the
complainant. The complaint will be handled in the main at a local managerial level,
not within professional standards departments.
5.9 Although local resolution will not result in disciplinary proceedings, the manager of the
person complained about may take management action or formal action under the
unsatisfactory performance procedures (for police officers) or capability procedures
(for police staff members) during, or as a result of, the complaints process.
Complaints suitable for local resolution
5.10 When a complaint has been recorded and there is no requirement to refer it to the
IPCC and it is not being referred voluntarily, the appropriate authority must decide
whether the complaint is suitable for local resolution.
When a complaint has been recorded and there is no requirement to refer it to the
IPCC and it is not being referred voluntarily, the appropriate authority must decide
whether the complaint is suitable for local resolution.
A complaint must meet both of the following conditions to be suitable for
local resolution:
the appropriate authority is satisfied that the conduct that is being complained
about (even if it were proved) would not justify bringing criminal or disciplinary
proceedings against the person whose conduct is complained about; and
the appropriate authority is satisfied that the conduct complained about (even
if it were proved) would not involve the infringement of a persons rights under
Article 2 or 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
If a complaint does not meet these conditions, it is not suitable for local resolution
and must be investigated by the appropriate authority.
Paragraph 6, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
Section 5:
LOCAL
HANDLING
32Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 155
5.11 This assessment should be made taking the complaint at face value. If a complaint
meets these conditions, it may be dealt with by way of local resolution, and the
expectation is that it will be locally resolved unless there is a reason why this is not
possible. If there is doubt whether a complaint satisfies either of the conditions, it is
advisable to err on the side of caution and not treat it as suitable for local resolution.
5.12 Where a pattern of behaviour is identified in a person serving with the police, the
person determining whether the complaint is suitable for local resolution should
consider carefully whether local resolution is appropriate. Local resolution may be the
proportionate response, for example to a complaint of incivility. However, if there have
been similar or previous complaints that have also been resolved locally the IPCC
encourages the appropriate authority to consider whether there are underlying
reasons for the pattern of behaviour which may justify the bringing of disciplinary
proceedings in respect of the latest conduct complained about.
Local resolution following referral
5.13 An appropriate authority may consider local resolution of a complaint that has
been referred to the IPCC if the IPCC has determined that an investigation is not
necessary and referred the complaint back to the appropriate authority.
5.14 If the IPCC has determined that an investigation is necessary and how the complaint
should be investigated, but the appropriate authority wishes to resolve the complaint
locally, an application for local resolution must be submitted to the IPCC. However, this
should not be a routine occurrence. Applications should be made only where there is
new information or evidence, which was not reasonably available at the time of the
referral, to suggest that local resolution would be appropriate.
The appropriate authority cannot make more than one application for the IPCC’s
approval to the determination that a complaint is suitable for local resolution in
respect of the same complaint.
Paragraph 6, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
Ways of resolving the complaint
5.15 Local resolution is a flexible process that may be adapted to the needs of the
complainant and the individual complaint. The actions taken to resolve a complaint
locally will depend on the substance of the complaint and the discussion that has
taken place with the complainant. Possible actions that could be taken include:
resolution over the counter or by telephone
providing information and explanation
an apology on behalf of the appropriate authority or an apology from the
person complained about (if that person has agreed to an apology)
a written explanation of the circumstances and any action taken
Section 5:
LOCAL
HANDLING
33Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 155
mediation between the complainant and the person complained about, either
directly or indirectly
a change to policy or procedures
learning shared within the force
taking some investigative steps to establish further information.
5.16 Mediation can be a productive way to deal with complaints that are suitable for local
resolution. A mediation process, which will usually involve a third party to mediate
between the complainant and the officer complained against, is more likely to
increase satisfaction for both parties as it allows for both the complainant and the
person complained against each to describe their experiences.
Action plans
5.17 The details of how a specific complaint will be resolved locally are best documented in
an action plan that outlines the steps to be taken. The action plan should be discussed
with the complainant and he or she should have an opportunity to comment on it. This
will help reach a shared understanding of the actions to be taken and will be a useful
record of any agreements reached. Any step in an action plan should be both effective
and achievable; an action plan that unduly raises a complainant’s expectations and fails
to deliver will negatively affect the complainant’s confidence in the police. If a step in an
action plan cannot be completed, the reasons for this should be recorded and explained
to the complainant.
5.18 The complainant should be provided with a copy of the agreed action plan.
Communication
During a local resolution process, the complainant and person complained against
must be given the opportunity, as soon as practicable, to make comments about
the complaint.
Regulation 6, Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012
5.19 Participation by the person complained about should be actively encouraged. Local
resolution is not seeking to establish blame or wrongdoing, but is aiming to resolve
the complaint. It should generally be expected that the person complained about
will comment upon the complaint.
A record must be made as soon as practicable of the outcome of the local resolution
procedure. A copy of this record must be given to the person complained against
and the complainant.
Regulation 6, Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012
Section 5:
LOCAL
HANDLING
34Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 155
Statements
A statement made by any person for the purposes of a local resolution is not admissible
in any subsequent criminal, civil or disciplinary proceedings (except where it is an
admission to a matter that has not been subjected to local resolution).
Paragraph 8, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
5.20 There is no legal power or requirement to issue a notice of investigation to the
person complained against as part of the local resolution process.
Appeal against local resolution
5.21 Where a complaint has been resolved locally, the complainant will have a right of
appeal about the outcome of the local resolution (unless the complaint relates to a
direction and control matter).
7
See paragraphs 13.61 to 13.67 for more information
on appeals.
5.22 At the conclusion of any local resolution process, the appropriate authority must
ensure that the complainant is informed, in writing, of:
the outcome of the local resolution (and sent a copy of the record of the
outcome)
the right of appeal
the identity of the relevant appeal body (and, if it is the IPCC, the reason)
that there is no further right of appeal to the IPCC (where the relevant appeal
body is the chief officer)
the timescale in which the appeal must be received (28 days).
It is not possible to locally resolve the complaint
Where it becomes apparent to the appropriate authority during the course of an
attempt at local resolution that it is not possible to resolve the complaint using local
resolution or the complaint is, for any other reason, not suitable for local resolution,
arrangements must be made for the complaint to be investigated by the
appropriate authority.
In those circumstances, no-one who was involved in the attempt at local resolution
can be appointed to investigate the complaint or to assist with the investigation.
Paragraph 8, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
1
Paragraph 8A, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
Section 5:
LOCAL
HANDLING
35Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 155
5.23 There may be occasions, either because the relationship between the complainant
and the force has irretrievably broken down, or because the complainant’s desired
outcome to the complaint is unachievable, where there is no possibility of engaging
in a two-way resolution process. Additionally, it is unlikely to satisfy a complainant if
he or she feels that local resolution has been imposed against his or her express
wishes. In these instances a local investigation may be the most practical and
satisfactory means of dealing with the complaint.
5.24 Detailed guidance on carrying out investigations can be found in section 9 of
this guidance.
5.25 An investigation carried out in these circumstances will carry a right of appeal. The way
in which a complaint is dealt with (i.e. whether it is locally resolved or investigated) has
no bearing on who considers the appeal. This is based purely on the complaint(s) made
at the beginning of the process (see paragraphs 13.11 to 13.17 for more information
about the relevant appeal body).
Section 5:
LOCAL
HANDLING
36Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 156
Section 6:
CONDUCT
MATTERS
6.1 This section sets out the framework for the initial stages of dealing with a
conduct matter.
6.2 The section covers:
the definition of a conduct matter
how a conduct matter should be recorded
which conduct matters must be referred to the IPCC.
Definition of a conduct matter
Subject to some limited exceptions a conduct matter is any matter about which
there is not or has not been a complaint, where there is an indication (whether from
the circumstances or otherwise) that a person serving with the police may have
committed a criminal offence or behaved in a manner which would justify
disciplinary proceedings.
Section 12, Police Reform Act 2002
6.3 It is vital that conduct matters are recognised and dealt with, both to deal with
the issues and as part of the learning and improvement process for the force and
the individual.
6.4 Conduct matters may come to light where a person who is prevented from being a
complainant by the Police Reform Act 2002 raises issues that satisfy the definition
of a conduct matter. The person raising the issue may be treated as an interested
person if the matter is treated as a recordable conduct matter.
Recording a conduct matter
6.5 ‘Recording’ in this context means that a record is made of the conduct matter giving
it formal status under the Police Reform Act 2002. This means that it has to be
handled formally in accordance with the Police Reform Act 2002 and this guidance.
Section 6:
CONDUCT MATTERS
37Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 156
Conduct matters arising in civil proceedings
6.6 There is a duty on chief officers and local policing bodies to identify and deal with
conduct matters that come to their attention as a result of civil proceedings. Where a
chief officer or local policing body receives a notification that civil proceedings relating
to any matter have been brought or are likely to be brought against him or her by a
member of the public, he or she should make an initial assessment about whether
any complaint has been made about the same conduct. If so, he or she should deal
with the complaint in accordance with the guidance on handling complaints.
If no complaint has been made, the chief officer or local policing body must assess
whether those proceedings involve or would involve a conduct matter (see paragraphs
6.2 to 6.4). If so, then the chief officer or local policing body must first decide if he or she
is the relevant appropriate authority.
If the chief officer or local policing body is not the relevant appropriate authority,
he or she must notify the relevant appropriate authority of the proceedings and
the circumstances that suggest it involves, or would involve, a conduct matter.
If the chief officer or local policing body is the appropriate authority then he or she
must determine whether there is a requirement, or it would be appropriate, to refer
the matter to the IPCC. If so, then the matter must be recorded, unless he or she is
satisfied the matter has been or is already being dealt with by criminal or disciplinary
proceedings against the person to whose conduct the matter relates.
In any other case, the appropriate authority must determine whether the matter
is repetitious within the meaning of regulation 7(3) of the Police (Complaints and
Misconduct) Regulations 2012. If the matter is not repetitious then the appropriate
authority must record the matter unless it is satisfied the matter has been or is
already being dealt with by criminal or disciplinary proceedings against the person
to whose conduct the matter relates.
In any other case, the appropriate authority may record the matter, but is not
obliged to do so.
Paragraph 10, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
Regulation 7, Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012
6.7 Conduct matters should be recorded as soon as practicable after they have come to
light and the decision has been made that they must be recorded.
Where a conduct matter is recorded, but there is no requirement to refer the matter
to the IPCC and the matter is not being referred voluntarily, the appropriate authority
may handle the matter in whatever other manner it may determine, including taking
no action.
Paragraph 10, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
Section 6:
CONDUCT
MATTERS
38Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 156
6.8 Appropriate authorities should ensure that there is clear local guidance about who
is responsible for identifying conduct matters in civil proceedings and ensuring
that they are handled effectively and efficiently.
6.9 There is no cut-off for recording a conduct matter arising from a civil claim,
i.e. where the events took place some years previously. However, appropriate
authorities can consider whether there are grounds for discontinuing an
investigation into a conduct matter (see section 10).
Conduct matters in other cases
Where a conduct matter comes to the attention of a chief officer or local policing
body (other than as a result of civil proceedings) and he or she is the relevant appropriate
authority, an assessment must first be made to determine whether it involves conduct
which, assuming it has taken place:
appears to have resulted in the death or serious injury of any person;
has had an adverse effect on a member of the public; or
falls within a description specified in the Police (Complaints and Misconduct)
Regulations 2012, namely:
i. a serious assault, as defined in paragraphs 8.7 to 8.10 of this guidance;
ii. a serious sexual offence, as defined in paragraphs 8.11 and 8.12 of
this guidance;
iii. serious corruption, as defined in paragraphs 8.13-8.17 of this guidance;
iv. a criminal offence or behaviour which is liable to lead to misconduct
proceedings and which in either case was aggravated by discriminatory
behaviour on the grounds of a persons race, sex, religion, or other status
identified in paragraph 8.18 of this guidance;
v. a relevant offence (see box under Relevant offence in section 8);
vi. conduct whose gravity or other exceptional circumstances make it
appropriate to record the matter in which the conduct is involved; or
vii. conduct which is alleged to have taken place in the same incident as one
in which conduct within sub-paragraphs (i) to (v) is alleged.
If so, the appropriate authority must determine whether it is required, or it would be
appropriate, to refer the matter to the IPCC. If the appropriate authority determines
that it is required, or it would be appropriate, to refer the matter to the IPCC then it
must record the matter, unless it is satisfied that it has been or is already being dealt
with by criminal or disciplinary proceedings against the person to whose conduct the
matter relates.
In any other case, the appropriate authority must determine whether the matter
is repetitious within the meaning of regulation 7(3) of the Police (Complaints and
Misconduct) Regulations 2012. If the matter is not repetitious then the appropriate
authority must record the matter, unless it is satisfied that it has been or is already
being dealt with by criminal or disciplinary proceedings against the person whose
conduct the matter relates.
Section 6:
CONDUCT
MATTERS
39Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 156
6.10 Conduct matters should be recorded as soon as practicable after they have come
to light and the decision has been made that they must be recorded.
Conduct matters involving allegations of discrimination
6.11 Paragraphs 3.27 to 3.30 of this guidance in relation to complaints will also be relevant
to dealing with interested persons in relation to such conduct matters.
Conduct matters relating to people who no longer work for the police
Conduct matters relating to the conduct of a person who since the time of the conduct
has stopped being a person serving with the police must be handled in the same way
under the Police Reform Act 2002 as any other conduct matter. However, the appropriate
authority will not be required to determine whether disciplinary proceedings should be
brought against that person whose conduct is the subject matter of a report.
Regulation 27, Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012
6.12 The investigation of the conduct matter may provide an opportunity for an
explanation to be given to an interested person. It may also enable the police to learn
lessons. Although disciplinary proceedings will not result against someone who is no
longer serving with the police, criminal proceedings could be brought if appropriate.
Referral of conduct matters to the IPCC
6.13 For information about referring conduct matters to the IPCC see section 8 of
this guidance.
In any other case, the appropriate authority may record the matter, but is not
obliged to do so.
Where a conduct matter is recorded, but there is no requirement to refer the matter
to the IPCC and it is not being referred voluntarily, then the appropriate authority
may handle the matter in whatever other manner it may determine, including
taking no action.
The IPCC may direct the appropriate authority to record a matter that has come
to the IPCC’s attention which is a recordable conduct matter but has not been
recorded. The appropriate authority must comply with that direction.
Paragraph 11, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
Regulation 7, Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012
Section 6:
CONDUCT
MATTERS
40Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 157
Section 7:
DEATH OR
SERIOUS
INJURY
MATTERS
7.1 This section sets out the framework for the initial stages of dealing with a death
or serious injury (DSI) matter.
7.2 The section covers:
the definition of a DSI matter
how a DSI matter should be recorded
the referral of DSI matters to the IPCC.
Definition of a DSI matter
A DSI matter means any circumstances (unless the circumstances are or have been
the subject of a complaint or amount to a conduct matter) in, or as a result of
which, a person has died or sustained serious injury and:
at the time of death or serious injury the person had been arrested by a person
serving with the police and had not been released or was otherwise detained in
the custody of a person serving with the police; or
at or before the time of death or serious injury the person had contact of any kind
– whether direct or indirect – with a person serving with the police who was
acting in the execution of his or her duties and there is an indication that the
contact may have caused – whether directly or indirectly – or contributed to the
death or serious injury. However, this sub-category excludes contact that a person
who suffered the death or serious injury had whilst he or she was acting in the
execution or his or her duties as a person serving with the police.
Section 12, Police Reform Act 2002
‘Serious injury’ means a fracture, a deep cut, a deep laceration or an injury causing
damage to an internal organ or the impairment of any bodily function.
Section 29, Police Reform Act 2002
Section 7:
DEATH OR SERIOUS INJURY MATTERS
41Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 157
Recording a DSI matter
Where a DSI matter comes to the attention of a chief officer or local policing body, and
he or she is the relevant appropriate authority, he or she must record that matter.
Paragraph 14A, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
7.3 DSI matters should be recorded as soon as practicable after they are identified
bearing in mind the timescale for referral set out in the text box on page 47.
The IPCC may direct the appropriate authority to record a DSI matter that has come to
the IPCC’s attention, but has not been recorded. The appropriate authority must comply
with that direction.
Paragraph 14A, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
Referral of DSI matters
7.4 For information about referrals see section 8 of this guidance.
Section 7:
DEATH OR
SERIOUS
INJURY
MATTERS
42Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 158
Section 8:
REFERRALS
8.1 Referral to the IPCC is an important part of ensuring public confidence in the
independence, accountability and integrity of the police complaints system.
8.2 This section explains:
what must be referred to the IPCC
the IPCC’s decision when it receives a referral
the types of investigation that may follow.
Complaints that must be referred to the IPCC
Appropriate authorities must refer to the IPCC:
complaints alleging that the conduct complained of has resulted in death or
serious injury;
complaints which fall within the mandatory referral criteria (see below);or
complaints which the IPCC notifies the appropriate authority that it requires
to be referred regardless of whether the complaint is already being investigated
by any person or the IPCC has considered it.
However, a complaint that has already been referred to the IPCC is not required
to be referred again unless the IPCC so directs.
Paragraph 4, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
8.3 Appropriate authorities should notify the IPCC where concerns or issues arise later
which indicate that the matter should be referred again.
Section 8:
REFERRALS
43Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 158
Conduct matters that must be referred to the IPCC
Appropriate authorities must refer to the IPCC recordable conduct matters which:
relate to any incident or circumstances in or in consequence of which a person
has died or suffered serious injury;
fall within the mandatory referral criteria (see below);or
the IPCC notifies the appropriate authority that it requires the matter to be
referred regardless of whether the conduct matter is already being investigated
by any person or the IPCC has considered it previously.
However, a conduct matter that has already been referred to the IPCC does not have
to be referred again unless the IPCC so directs.
Paragraph 13, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
8.4 Appropriate authorities should notify the IPCC where concerns or issues arise later
which indicate that the matter should be referred again.
Referral of death or serious injury (DSI) matters
All DSI matters must be referred to the IPCC.
However, a DSI matter that has already been referred to the IPCC does not have to
be referred again unless the IPCC so directs.
Paragraph 14C, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
Section 8:
REFERRALS
44Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 158
Mandatory referral criteria
The appropriate authority must refer complaints and recordable conduct matters
that include allegations of conduct which constitutes:
serious assault
serious sexual offence
serious corruption
criminal offence or behaviour which is liable to lead to misconduct proceedings
and which, in either case, is aggravated by discriminatory behaviour on the
grounds of a persons race, sex, religion or other status identified in paragraph
8.18 of this guidance
a relevant offence, or
complaints or conduct matters which are alleged to have arisen from the same
incident as anything falling within these criteria.
An appropriate authority must also refer complaints which arise from the same
incident about which there is a complaint alleging that the conduct complained
of resulted in death or serious injury.
Regulation 4 and 7, Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012
8.5 Where there is doubt about whether a complaint or recordable conduct matter
must be referred, the IPCC encourages referral. The appropriate authority can seek
the IPCC’s advice about general policy on referrals or about whether to refer a
specific incident or allegation.
8.6 If further evidence or information is obtained indicating that an incident was more
serious than first thought and if it meets the criteria for referral, the matter should
be referred to the IPCC. Similarly, further evidence or information might prompt
consideration about re-referral so that the mode of investigation can be reviewed.
Where a referral is made some time after the original incident, an explanation
should be given indicating the evidence that has come to light requiring referral
(or re-referral) of the matter.
Definitions of referral criteria
Serious assault
8.7 ‘Serious assault is conduct that results in an injury that amounts to actual bodily
harm or a more serious injury.
8.8 ‘Serious assault‘ is interpreted in accordance with the law on what constitutes an
assault occasioning actual bodily harm contrary to Section 47 of the Offences
Against the Person Act 1861. The offence is committed when a person assaults
another, thereby causing actual bodily harm to that other person. One factor in law
that distinguishes a charge under Section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988
(common assault) from one under Section 47 is the degree of injury.
Section 8:
REFERRALS
45Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 158
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) legal guidance on the charging standards for the
offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm should be applied in determining
whether an offence is one of assault occasioning actual bodily harm rather than
common assault.
8.9 Any attempt, incitement or conspiracy to commit any offence referred to above
must also be referred to the IPCC.
8.10 Where a person is injured as a result of the conduct of a person serving with the
police, forces should first consider whether the injury is a serious injury or one which
must be referred. If not, they should ask themselves whether there is anything
about the conduct or the circumstances in which the injury was sustained which
points to the need for a voluntary referral. For injuries occurring once a person is in
custody, the threshold for force to be necessary or proportionate is higher.
Serious sexual offences
8.11 The term ‘serious sexual offences’ includes:
all offences under the Sexual Offences Acts 1956 to 2003 that must be tried
in the Crown Court; or
any other offences under these Acts which appear, to an appropriate authority,
to be an offence for which the individual concerned, if convicted, would be
likely to receive a sentence of more than six months.
8.12 Any attempt, incitement or conspiracy to commit any offence referred to above
must also be referred to the IPCC.
Serious corruption
8.13 The term serious corruption refers to conduct that includes:
any attempt to pervert the course of justice or other conduct likely seriously to
harm the administration of justice, in particular the criminal justice system;
payments or other benefits or favours received in connection with the
performance of duties amounting to an offence for which the individual
concerned, if convicted, would be likely to receive a sentence of more than
six months;
abuse of authority;
corrupt controller, handler or covert human intelligence source
(CHIS) relationships;
provision of confidential information in return for payment or other benefits or
favours where the conduct goes beyond a possible prosecution for an offence
under Section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998;
extraction and supply of seized controlled drugs, firearms or other material; or
attempts or conspiracies to do any of the above.
Section 8:
REFERRALS
46Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 158
8.14 The law requires that allegations of serious corruption are referred to the IPCC
without delay. It is therefore not appropriate to wait until there is sufficient
information to make an arrest.
8.15 Where an allegation of serious corruption is made or potential serious corruption
is identified this may require covert investigation. This should not prevent or delay
referral to the IPCC.
8.16 The IPCC expects covert cases to be referred if any of the following factors
are present:
reasonable suspicion that a criminal offence has been committed
the investigation has moved to an operational phase
covert intrusive tactics are about to be deployed
the allegations are extremely sensitive or likely to have an adverse
impact on public confidence.
8.17 If it is unclear whether any of these factors are present the case should
be discussed with the IPCC to establish whether referral is necessary.
Criminal offences and behaviour liable to lead to misconduct proceedings and which
in either case is aggravated by discriminatory behaviour.
8.18 This refers to any criminal offence or other behaviour liable to lead to misconduct
proceedings that is aggravated by discrimination on the grounds of a person’s:
age;
disability;
gender reassignment;
marriage and civil partnership;
pregnancy and maternity;
race;
religion or belief;
sex; or
sexual orientation.
8.19 The form of the alleged discrimination may be direct through language or behaviour,
for example, the use of offensive and discriminatory words or use of stereotypes
to describe individuals. The complainant or interested person may allege that the
criminal offence or behaviour was motivated by discrimination. He or she may allege
treatment which amounts to discrimination by comparison with the treatment given
to others. While it is not for the complainant to prove that the person serving with the
police discriminated against him or her it is important that when raising allegations
about the treatment he or she received that he or she is able to identify (where
possible) how that treatment was discriminatory. The person dealing with the matter
should encourage the complainant or interested person to provide as much information
as possible as to why they consider they were discriminated against. It is equally
possible that the complainant or interested person does not allege discrimination,
Section 8:
REFERRALS
47Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 158
but that the investigator believes discrimination is a factor (see paragraphs 3.27
to 3.30 and 9.17 to 9.23 for additional information on dealing with allegations
of discrimination).
Relevant offence
A relevant offence’ is defined as any offence for which the sentence is fixed by law or
any offence for which a person of 18 years and over (not previously convicted) may
be sentenced to imprisonment for seven years or more (excluding any restrictions
imposed by Section 33 of the Magistrates Court Act 1980).
Regulation 1, Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012
Matters which the IPCC requires to be referred to it (‘call in’)
8.20 The IPCC may require any complaint or recordable conduct matter to be referred
to it by the appropriate authority. This power of call in is exercisable irrespective of
whether the matter is already being investigated or has previously been considered
by the IPCC.
8.21 If the IPCC calls a matter in, the appropriate authority must provide all relevant
information at, or as soon as practicable after, the time of referral.
Deadlines for referral
A mandatory referral must be made without delay and in any case not later than
the end of the day after the day it first becomes clear that it is a matter which must
be referred.
Regulations 4, 7 and 8, Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012
8.22 If necessary referrals can be made via the IPCC’s on-call number.
Where the IPCC calls a matter in, it must be referred without delay and in any case
by the end of the day after the day the IPCC notifies the appropriate authority that
it must be referred.
Regulations 4 and 7, Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012
8.23 The process of referral must not delay any initial action by an appropriate authority
to secure or preserve evidence especially in relation to incident scene management.
Section 8:
REFERRALS
48Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 158
8.24 In any case, when referring a matter, an appropriate authority must provide to the
IPCC as much relevant information as possible to ensure it makes informed decisions.
The need to provide information should be balanced against the timeliness of making
the referral, but the following list gives some examples of information which, where
available and relevant, will help the decision maker:
a copy of the complaint
use of force forms where there is an allegation of excessive force or an injury
medical records relating to any injuries allegedly sustained
the custody record, where the referral relates to an issue that occurred
in custody
officer notes relating to the incident.
Voluntary referrals
8.25 The IPCC encourages appropriate authorities to refer complaints or recordable
conduct matters that do not have to be referred but where the gravity of the subject
matter or exceptional circumstances justifies referral.
8
This may be, for example,
because the complaint or recordable conduct matter could have a significant impact
on public confidence, or it is felt there is a need for independent involvement in
the investigation.
8.26 Relevant local policing bodies can also refer complaints or recordable conduct matters
which either have not been referred or are required to be referred by the appropriate
authority if the local policing body considers referral would be appropriate because of
the gravity of the subject matter or any other exceptional circumstances.
9
Referral of complaints about direction and control
Where a complaint relates to a direction and control matter but is not a complaint
which must be referred to the IPCC, it may only be referred to the IPCC if the
IPCC consents.
Paragraph 4, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
8
Paragraph 4 and 13, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002.
9
Paragraph 4 and 13, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002.
Section 8:
REFERRALS
49Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 158
8.27 In cases where an appropriate authority wishes to refer a complaint about a
direction and control matter it should contact the IPCC for its consent, giving as
much information about the matter as possible including why it is considered to
be a direction and control matter and the reasons why it should be referred to
the IPCC.
Notification of referral
Whenever a local policing body or chief officer refers a complaint or conduct matter
to the IPCC, it must notify:
the complainant (if there is one); and
the person complained against or whose conduct it was, unless it would
prejudice a possible future investigation of the complaint or matter.
Paragraph 4 and 13, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
The local resolution of any complaint must be discontinued if the IPCC calls
the complaint in or it is otherwise referred to the IPCC.
Paragraph 8, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
Determining whether and how a matter should be investigated
Once a referral is made to the IPCC it must determine whether the matter should
be investigated. If it decides that the matter should be investigated then it must
determine the mode of investigation, having regard to the seriousness of the case
and the public interest.
Paragraph 5, 14, 14D and 15, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
8.28 It is therefore essential that as much information is given at the time of referral or
as soon as practicable thereafter to ensure the IPCC makes the right decision in
respect of the matters referred to it.
Section 8:
REFERRALS
50Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 158
When a matter does not need to be investigated
If the IPCC decides that the matter does not need to be investigated then:
in the case of a complaint, it may refer the complaint back to the appropriate
authority for local resolution or local investigation or, if appropriate, to consider
making an application for disapplication
in the case of a recordable conduct or DSI matter, it may refer the matter to the
appropriate authority to be dealt with in such a manner (if any) as the
appropriate authority thinks fit.
Paragraph 5, 14 and 14D Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
When the IPCC determines a matter should be investigated
8.29 Having taken into account the seriousness of the case and the public interest, the
IPCC must determine the mode of investigation. The mode of investigation may be:
local investigation;
supervised investigation;
managed investigation; or
independent investigation.
The IPCC can, at any time, re-determine the mode of investigation.
Paragraph 15, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
Section 8:
REFERRALS
51Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 159
Section 9:
INVESTIGATIONS
9.1 Investigations under the Police Reform Act 2002 may vary greatly in their scope,
purpose and complexity. This section covers:
the IPCC’s expectations in relation to issues such as terms of reference and keeping
an audit trail
some of the legislative requirements that apply to such an investigation, such as:
- special requirements and severity assessments
- the power to suspend an investigation; and
- duties with regard to the provision of information
best practice guidance.
Purpose of an investigation
9.2 The purpose of an investigation is to establish the facts behind a complaint, conduct
matter or DSI matter and reach conclusions. This includes, where applicable, whether,
in respect of those subject to investigation, there is a case to answer for misconduct or
gross misconduct or unsatisfactory performance. It is also an opportunity to ascertain
whether there is any learning for the force arising from the incident itself or the way it
was handled. An investigation should be fair, reasonable and objective and based on
evidence. What is reasonable in each case will depend on the particular circumstances.
Appointment of a person to carry out the investigation
The appropriate authority is responsible for appointing the investigating officer in a
local, supervised or managed investigation. In the case of a supervised or managed
investigation, the IPCC has the power to require any proposed appointment to be
subject to its approval or, where a person has already been appointed, it may require
another investigating officer to be selected.
Paragraph 16, 17 and 18, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
Section 9:
INVESTIGATIONS
52Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 159
An appropriate authority may appoint:
i. a person serving with the police
ii. a member of staff of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, or
iii. a member of staff of the National Policing Improvement Agency who is a constable
to investigate the complaint or matter.
However, the appointment of an investigating officer is subject to a number of
important qualifications. These are:
i. where an investigation relates to the conduct of a chief officer, the investigating
officer must not be under that chief officer’s direction and control
ii. where an investigation relates to the conduct of the Commissioner or Deputy
Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, the investigating officer must be
nominated by the Secretary of State for the Home Department
iii. the investigating officer must have an appropriate level of knowledge, skills
and experience to plan and manage the investigation
iv. the investigating officer must not work, directly or indirectly, under the
management of the person being investigated (this qualification does not apply
to the investigation of a complaint about a direction and control matter)
v. where an investigation relates to a senior officer, the investigating officer must
not be the chief officer or a member of the same force as the person to whose
conduct the investigation relates (this qualification does not apply to the
investigation of a complaint about a direction and control matter); and
vi. the investigating officer must not be appointed if his involvement in that role
could reasonably give rise to a concern whether he or she could act impartially
(however, where an investigation relates to a complaint about a direction and
control matter the fact that a person works, directly or indirectly, under the
management of the person to whose conduct the investigation relates or is the
chief officer or a member of the same force as the person to whose conduct the
investigation relates are not enough in themselves to constitute reasonable
grounds for concern that the investigating officer could not act impartially).
Paragraph 16, 17 and 18, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
Regulation 24, Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012
9.3 The appointment of an investigator should be recorded in writing. Where any
concerns have been raised about the appointment of a particular investigator the
appropriate authority should also record in writing any decision, together with its
reasons, whether or not to replace the investigator.
9.4 At the start of each investigation, the investigator should make a written note
in the investigation decision log to declare whether or not there is anything that
could reasonably give rise to a concern about whether he or she or any member
of the investigation team could act impartially.
Section 9:
INVESTIGATIONS
53Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 159
9.5 If no such concern is identified, an entry in the investigation decision log should be
made to that effect for the purposes of transparency. Where there is such concern
the investigator should raise it with the appropriate authority (and the IPCC in a
managed or supervised investigation), before he or she or any member of the
investigation team carries out any steps (other than preservation of evidence)
in connection with the investigation.
9.6 The appropriate authority should then decide whether to replace the investigator
or not. Any decision made, together with the reasons, should be recorded in
writing. This decision will be subject to any power of the IPCC to require the
appropriate authority to select another investigator.
Terms of reference
9.7 Terms of reference will vary according to the complexity of an investigation. In
straightforward investigations which are not subject to special requirements they
may be as simple as a summary of the complaint being investigated. Investigations
supervised or managed by the IPCC, as well as those which it carries out
independently, will always have more detailed terms of reference.
9.8 Terms of reference should:
provide focus and direction for the investigation
be clear, unambiguous and tightly drawn
describe the scope of the investigation that will be undertaken including the
time period and/or what will not be investigated, if appropriate
include a summary of any concerns, complaints or allegations
not list actions to be undertaken
include the identification of organisational learning
spell out, where there is a parallel investigation, the relationship between
the two investigations.
9.9 Subject to the harm test, a copy of the terms of reference and any revisions to
them should be sent to complainants, interested persons and any subjects of
the investigation. It may also be useful to meet with the complainant and any
interested person at an early stage to explain the investigation process.
Keeping an audit trail
9.10 Every investigation, no matter how small or quick, requires some level of file
recording to show what was done and why, together with the collation and
preservation of any documents or other evidence seen or created as part of
the inquiry.
Section 9:
INVESTIGATIONS
54Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 159
9.11 The investigator should be able to demonstrate that steps were taken to
understand the complaint and the views of the complainant. The following
are examples of steps that may be taken to achieve this:
if the investigation is based on a letter, the investigator should check with the
complainant that this is a full account of everything that the person wants to
complain about;
if the complainant has expressed a wish to make a statement then the
investigator should not refuse this and, whilst it may not always be necessary,
ordinarily a formal statement should be taken. If a statement is not taken, the
basis for this decision should be recorded by the investigator; and
if the complaint has been made verbally, this must be recorded in writing and
a copy of the account provided to the complainant at an early stage. This gives
the complainant an opportunity to confirm his or her agreement that it is an
accurate record of the complaint he or she wants addressed.
9.12 A statement must always be sought from the complainant if his or her evidence
may be used in criminal proceedings or disciplinary proceedings.
9.13 Where the investigator seeks an account from a person who is the subject of
investigation, there must be an auditable record of it. The person could be invited to sign
handwritten notes or a pocket notebook entry to confirm the accuracy of a record of a
conversation. However, this is the minimum. In many cases, more would be required,
such as an account by email, letter, statement or (recorded) interview. If an investigation
is subject to special requirements (see paragraphs 9.29 to 9.34) or is an investigation into
a recordable conduct matter, a notice of investigation will in most cases have been
served (see paragraph 9.39) and a statement under an appropriate caution should be
taken or requested from the person to whose conduct the investigation relates or he or
she should be required to attend an interview, which will be recorded (see paragraphs
9.41 to 9.47 for more information on interviews).
The scope of the investigation
9.14 Investigators should adopt a proportionate approach to any investigation in order
to ensure that, in the public interest, investigative resources are focused and
employed efficiently and fairly. However, to use the term ‘proportionate’ is not
another way of describing an investigation as limited or small scale. It must be
borne in mind that the adequacy of the investigation may be scrutinised when any
appeal is considered either by the IPCC or the chief officer. In order to decide what is
a proportionate approach to investigating a complaint it may be useful to discuss
with the complainant what are his or her key points to ensure that these are
covered. Every investigation needs to be proportionate to:
the seriousness of the matter being investigated;
the prospects of a criminal trial, misconduct proceedings or unsatisfactory
performance proceedings resulting;
the public interest; and
the investigation producing learning for the individual or organisation.
Section 9:
INVESTIGATIONS
55Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 159
9.15 Investigators should take the following factors into account when determining the
scope of an investigation and the methods to be used:
the need to establish the facts in all cases;
the seriousness of the allegation;
whether Articles 2 or 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights
are engaged;
any more general cause of a complainant’s dissatisfaction;
whether the facts are in dispute;
how long ago the incident took place and whether evidence is still likely
to be available;
the learning the investigation might yield for local or national policing
and individual learning for persons serving with the police; and
actual or potential public knowledge of, and concern about, the case.
9.16 Where further investigation is no longer proportionate to the likely outcome (for
example, because no additional evidence is likely to emerge) it should be concluded and
findings reported to the appropriate authority (or the IPCC in independent, managed or
supervised investigations). In local and supervised investigations into a complaint the
complainant has a right of appeal in relation to the investigation.
Allegations involving discrimination
9.17 Allegations of discrimination are not inevitably at the most serious end of the
spectrum: all allegations must be assessed individually. Judgements made at the
start of the investigation may well change in the light of the evidence. An allegation
of discrimination could be more serious if, for example, the allegation has become
the focus of public concern, or the incident may demonstrate that an officer’s
subsequent decision making may have been influenced by discriminatory attitudes.
9.18 The following factors can provide a guide to the scope of the investigation and
the methods to be used (see also information on getting a complaint statement
at paragraph 3.30). These factors should be revisited and re-assessed as more
information becomes available. The list is not intended to be definitive or prescriptive:
does the alleged discriminatory behaviour involve words, attitude or actions?
what was the impact of the alleged behaviour on the complainant or
interested person?
what is the nature of the evidence supporting the alleged behaviour and what
other evidence is likely to be found in establishing what happened during
the incident?
was the alleged behaviour raised by the complainant, someone on his or her
behalf or an interested person, or reported by another person serving with
the police?
Section 9:
INVESTIGATIONS
56Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 159
what does the complainant or interested person expect as an outcome for
dealing with the alleged discrimination?
has the impact of the incident affected, or is it likely that the impact will
affect, the wider community or have a negative impact on views about the
police service?
is anything relevant known about the person to whose conduct the
investigation relates, police force or local police area that would impact
on the degree of investigation required?
does the allegation raise other issues that will impact on how it is dealt with?
9.19 Evidence that could be considered in investigating an allegation of discriminatory
behaviour might include:
whether intelligence reports exist about the person subject to investigation or
whether there is anything recorded on his or her personal files. However, any
reference to personal data must be justifiable and lawful as there could be data
protection issues.
covert methods of gaining evidence (telephone logs, surveillance, integrity
testing) may be considered if lawful in the circumstances
if broader allegations of discrimination are indicated, it may be appropriate to
extend considerations to a particular division or area in the police force. This
may include consideration of local or national policies either in relation to a
particular area or more generally on a community relations level.
9.20 It may also be useful to consider comparator evidence such as:
how any other persons serving with the police who were present behaved
at the incident;
how other members of the public were treated at the same incident;
how this officer or police staff member has behaved in similar circumstances;
how this complainant or interested person has been treated at other
similar incidents
how a reasonable person serving with the police with similar levels of training
and experience would be expected to behave in these circumstances.
9.21 When assessing all of the evidence it is important to give appropriate weight to any
explanation given by a person serving with the police in response to the allegation
of discrimination, particularly where there is a difference in treatment which has
resulted in detriment to the complainant. There may have been an obvious detriment,
such as loss of liberty. However, detriment can also include loss of dignity and hurt
feelings. An investigator will have to make an assessment about whether the
explanation provided is adequate, reasonable and justified in the circumstances. The
allegation will be difficult to assess where the person subject of investigation has
provided no explanation for the alleged behaviour. Comparator evidence, in these
circumstances, may be helpful to the investigator as a means of determining whether
discrimination was a factor.
Section 9:
INVESTIGATIONS
57Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 159
9.22 Discrimination is not always overt, and it can be necessary to look at all the
circumstances of a particular case in order to see if discrimination can rightly
be inferred from the surrounding facts as explained at paragraph 3.29 above.
9.23 The relationship between the police and people from minority groups may be
affected by local circumstances. Investigators should aim to ensure they have
an awareness of local issues and experiences.
Death or serious injury matters turning into conduct matters
9.24 If, during an investigation of a DSI matter, it appears to the investigator that there is
an indication that a person serving with the police may have committed a criminal
offence or behaved in a manner justifying disciplinary proceedings, the investigator
must make a submission to that effect. This should be in writing and should set out
the investigator’s reasons for reaching this conclusion.
9.25 In a managed investigation, the submission must be sent to the IPCC. In a local or
supervised investigation the submission must be sent to the appropriate authority.
9.26 In a managed investigation, if the IPCC Commissioner agrees that there is such an
indication he or she will send a copy of the submission to the appropriate authority who
must record the matter as a conduct matter and consider whether it should be referred
to the IPCC. In a local or supervised investigation if the appropriate authority agrees with
the submission, it must notify the relevant appropriate authority, (if it is not the relevant
authority itself) and the IPCC and send them a copy of the investigator’s submission. The
relevant appropriate authority must then record the matter as a conduct matter and
consider whether it should be referred to the IPCC. In any case, the IPCC may call the
matter in and may re-determine the mode of investigation.
9.27 Once the matter has been recorded, the investigator must make a severity assessment
in relation to the conduct of the person concerned (where that person is a member of
a police force or a special constable).
9.28 This process may happen at any time during an investigation and any DSI investigation
should be kept under review as to whether there is an indication of the matters set out
in paragraph 9.24.
Special requirements
9.29 Special requirements only apply to investigations of complaints against a member of
a police force or a special constable. In the case of any other person, the investigator
must adhere to the relevant policies and procedures for investigating allegations
made against such persons.
Section 9:
INVESTIGATIONS
58Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 159
If at any time during an investigation of a complaint, it appears to the investigator
that there is an indication that a person to whose conduct the investigation relates
may have:
committed a criminal offence; or
behaved in a manner which would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings
then the investigator must certify the investigation as one subject to special
requirements.
Paragraph 19B, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
9.30 This provision means that throughout the course of any investigation, the investigator
must consider whether such an indication exists even if he or she initially decided it
did not.
9.31 Disciplinary proceedings for the purposes of special requirements mean any
proceedings under the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2012.
9.32 There is an ‘indication where the investigator, having considered the circumstances
and evidence available at that time, is of the view that the officer, or member of staff,
may have committed a criminal offence or behaved in a manner justifying the bringing
of disciplinary proceedings. A bare assertion of misconduct or criminality, particularly
if it is undermined by other material or inherently unlikely, may not be sufficient. For
example a complaint that an officer is “harassing” someone without more is unlikely
to be sufficient.
9.33 The investigator must set out the reasoning behind his or her decision as to
whether an investigation should be subject to special requirements.
9.34 In a managed investigation, the investigator must consult with the IPCC’s
managing investigator as to whether or not the investigation should be subject
to special requirements.
Severity assessments
9.35 Severity assessments only apply to investigations of complaints subject to special
requirements or recordable conduct matters against a member of a police force or
a special constable. Again, in the case of any other person, the investigator must
adhere to the relevant policies and procedures for investigating allegations against
such persons.
Section 9:
INVESTIGATIONS
59Independent Police Complaints Commission Statutory Guidance - May 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 159
Severity assessments must be undertaken in respect of investigations of complaints
subject to special requirements and all recordable conduct matters against a
member of a police force or a special constable.
A severity assessment must be made as soon as reasonably practicable after:
the investigator certifies the investigation as one subject to special requirements,
in the case of a complaint; or
the investigator is appointed in the case of a recordable conduct matter; or
a matter is recorded as a conduct matter during or following an investigation
of a DSI matter.
A severity assessment is an assessment as to:
whether the conduct, if proved, would amount to misconduct or gross
misconduct; and
if the conduct were to become the subject of disciplinary proceedings, the
form which those proceedings would be likely to take.
Paragraph 19B, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002
9.36 The investigator must make the severity assessment on the basis of what would
happen if the conduct was proved. The investigator should not consider the
likelihood of the conduct being proven when making the severity assessment.
9.37 The investigator must consult with the appropriate authority before the
assessment is completed.