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Abolish the Independent Police Complaints Commission

Comment 10th July 2010

The IPCC increasingly and unnecessarily involves itself in reviewing the general conduct and effectiveness of major police investigations. This 'mission drift' is symptomatic of a bureaucracy seeking to perpetuate itself and expand its scope. It also dilutes at best, or removes at worst, the capacity to address complaints about the conduct of individual police officers in their dealings with indvidual members of the public which is [or should be] the most important and perhaps only legitimate area for independent intervention in police operational matters.

Complaints from members of the public about matters of government and justice are better handled by existing independent Ombudsman arrangements. This limited aspect of the IPCC's work should be handed over to the Ombudsman. The rest of the IPCC's work should be dealt with as a routine and normal part of the internal management  of the police service [as is the case in management of any private sector business] and the IPCC organisation abolished.

Why does this matter?

Unnecessary bureaucracy and intrusive 'second guessing' of police decisions and management of major investigations is expensive and wasteful. Two important areas of saving arise from abolition of the IPCC – the cost of the IPCC itself, and the 'hidden cost' of all the police time that is involved in participating in formal investigations, often based on the benefits of hindsight, that add little or no value.

Let's get back to common sense policing, where we trust senior officers to manage operations, conduct post-investigation debriefings to learn lessons where necessary, take corrective action where problems occur and generaly do the job they are paid for without a bunch of other people looking over their shoulders and being wise after the event.

As a final bonus, if any of the front-line IPCC staff really understand policing, let's save the redundancy payments by putting them in uniform and redeploying them as police officers onto the streets to investigate crime rather than their colleagues.

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