News story

Independent Police Complaints Commission reform consultation launched

Home Office announces plans to reform the structure and governance of Independent Police Complaints Commission

Home Secretary

Today (17 December) the Home Secretary announced proposals to reform the governance structure of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPPC).

The proposals include:

  • Replacing the existing Commission model with a single head of the organisation who would be a Crown appointment to provide a direct line of accountability to the public.
  • Establishing a unitary Board, with a majority of non-executives to provide robust external challenge to the organisation on behalf of complainants and the public.
  • Seeking views on changing the name of the IPCC as it would no longer be organised as a Commission.

This would be the first major change to the IPCC’s governance structure since it was established in 2004 and builds on the organisation’s transition programme, which began in 2013. Both the Government and the IPCC agree on the need for significant governance reform to modernise the organisation, improve accountability and ensure the IPCC can grow and its remit expand.

The proposals emerged from an independent review, by Sheila Drew Smith, of the governance changes proposed by the IPCC. This review was commissioned by the Home Secretary in August and was also published today. The Government’s proposals, part of the Home Office’s continuing programme of policing integrity reforms, will now be subject to a public consultation, which starts today and will run until 28 January 2016. The Government intends to legislate as soon as possible.

Home Secretary Theresa May said:

The IPCC plays a critical role in securing and maintaining public confidence. It provides independent oversight of the police complaints system and investigates the most serious and sensitive matters involving the police.

I am committed to ensuring that the IPCC has the resources and powers it needs to perform these vital functions and I’m grateful for Sheila Drew Smith for carrying out this review.

These reforms are designed to deliver a more resilient police complaints body - providing one single, clear line of decision-making from top to bottom and giving the public real accountability. It will help ensure that complaints made against the police are responded to in a way that builds trust and public confidence, and allows lessons to be learned.

Sheila Drew Smith said:

The IPCC has a vital role to play in securing public confidence in the police complaints system. As the IPCC expands its role, and takes on more cases, I found universal agreement that its governance arrangements need to be strengthened. Having a single head of the organisation, supported by a strong Board with a majority of non-executive directors, should help streamline decision-making, help the IPCC become more efficient and deliver the objective scrutiny which the public and the police have a right to expect.

Published 17 December 2015