3 September 2015

IPCC releases new guidelines for handling discrimination complaints

After a series of consultations with civil society, complainants and their representatives, the IPCC has unveiled its revised guidelines on how forces should investigate complaints of discrimination.

In early 2015, StopWatch was invited to contribute to the IPCC's consultation on imprivoving police forces' investigations of discrimination. Their publication is the result of extensive feedback from civil society, complainants and their representatives, as well as police oversight and training bodies. The document, available here, is a precursor to additional training for police forces nationwide.

Discrimination complaints are most likely to come from complainants who already have low levels of trust in the police, making it all the more critical that these cases are dealt with transparently and professionally. One notable step forward with these new guidelines is the recommendation that discrimination cases are unlikely to be suitable for local resolution – a practice whereby the police officer(s) involved and complainant meet face to face in order to have a mediated conversation. In cases where local resolution is being considered, the IPCC is right to recommend that this should be in consultation with the complainant. This would go some way to address the lack of communication and engagement with complainants that has been a continued cause for concern and dissatisfaction.

These revised guidelines have been released at a time where public confidence in the complaints system is at a severe low. If they are to play a meaningful part in restoring public trust in this system, police forces will have to cooperate, and show willing to apply their standards. The IPCC itself should also guard against complacency, taking an active role in the development and improvement of these guidelines and their application at force level.

To read the IPCC’s guidelines on handling allegations of discrimination, click here.