Ensuring police integrity is maintained
As Police and Crime Commissioner, I am completely committed to fulfilling my role in overseeing police conduct and integrity issues on behalf of the people of Essex.
I wrote about some of the broad framework and details of the process created for this oversight role in an article here.
As part of that process, I receive a quarterly report from the Chief Constable and Essex Police Professional Standards Department. A few weeks ago, I received a Freedom Of Information request asking for disclosure of those documents.
The Chief Constable’s quarterly report into complaints, misconduct and other matters, contains information about investigations which are live and on-going. It is inevitable with a document provided on a quarterly basis that the outcome of a particular investigation may not yet be known. In addition, some individuals – including complainants and victims – are identified or identifiable in the documents.
In disclosing information about police conduct and integrity matters, it is essential that I balance a number of factors including the duty of care that I owe to individuals (police officers, police staff, complainants and victims), the need to respect due process during an on-going investigation, and the legitimate and important public interest in police conduct.
On November 26, 2013, we sent a redacted version of all the quarterly reports I have received since being elected late last year to the BBC journalist making the FOI request. I am committed to openness and transparency, so I have also published this document on our website.
Some of the matters being investigated both under the supervision of the Independent Police Complaints Commission and by the Essex Police Professional Standards Department are of deep concern. Some of these cases have concluded, and have led to action in the courts and to the discipline, including dismissal, of Essex Police officers. In other cases, the complaint was found not to be substantiated.
The reports contain tables comparing Essex Police with other forces, including numerical comparisons of the number of cases, allegations and complainants against the force establishment of officers and staff. These figures show that the volume of cases in Essex is broadly similar to that in other police forces. It is right and proper that the public continue to raise matters of concern around police conduct, and that they have confidence in the investigative process.
Moving forward, I believe it is important to ensure that information about police conduct is made publicly available in a fashion which is ethical, meaningful and transparent. I am developing processes for ensuing that the outcome of all disciplinary cases where the complaint is upheld are published at the appropriate time, so as to protect due process and the rights of all those involved in the case.