We received a Freedom of Information request asking about the accountability of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
We released the following information on 9 February 2011.
The IPCC is a non-departmental public body which was established in accordance with the Police Reform Act 2002 and is operationally independently of the Home Office and the police. Home Office ministers are, however, accountable to Parliament for overall work of the IPCC, although the IPCC is responsible for the conduct of its day-to-day affairs, including IPCC investigations.
Parliament scrutinises the work of the IPCC through the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Home Affairs select committee (HASC). Thus, the IPCC chief executive officer and chairman have, from time to time, appeared before PAC and HASC to give evidence. The IPCC is also required, by law, to publish is annual report and accounts which must also be laid before parliament. The IPCC also regularly publish its investigation reports, research studies, and complaint statistics on its website for the public to review.
The Police Reform Act 2002 sets out the statutory powers and responsibilities of the IPCC and guarantees the independence of the IPCC. The Act also outlines the role of the IPCC as the guardian of the police complaints system as a whole. The legislative base for the IPCC’s functions is set out in Part 2 of the Police Reform Act.
Those which relate to its guardianship powers include:
1. The IPCC’s call in powers for any allegation of police misconduct
2. The ‘inspection’ powers
3. The ability to produce statutory guidance
4. The ability to make recommendations and give advice on police complaints
arrangements and also on other matters of police practice from lessons it learns during its work
5. The obligation to produce annual reports and also reports for the Home Secretary, when asked
6. The ability to write other reports, as it sees fit, for the purpose of making recommendations, giving advice and drawing attention to particular issues
7. The ability to monitor the system by calling for information from police authorities and forces
8. The right of entry onto - and inspections of - police premises
9. Appointing organisations as ‘gateways’ for complainants into the system