Humberside chief constable Tim Hollis criticises plans for police watchdog
HUMBERSIDE'S chief constable has fiercely criticised plans to use serving officers to strengthen the police watchdog.
Tim Hollis, set to retire at the end of next month, hit out at plans to boost the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) by taking away resources from individual forces.
He claims the plans announced by Home Secretary Theresa May are "poorly thought out and would not achieve what is intended".
Mrs May wants to transfer staff from the forces' professional standards units to allow the IPCC to increase the number of cases it investigates.
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Last year, the watchdog, which oversees the police complaints system in England and Wales, investigated just 130 out of the 2,100 serious or sensitive cases referred to it independently – individual forces investigated the rest.
Mr Hollis said: "Why is the Government not seeking to improve the performance of poorly performing forces and raising standards and public confidence that way rather than penalising all forces and taking resources away at a time when we need them most?
"Only last November, we had elections for police and crime commissioners.
"The Government made it clear that this was all about introducing greater accountability and giving the public a greater say in how policing is delivered locally."That's particularly important as we strive to deliver continuing budget cuts.
"Now, as a result of the IPCC being under pressure, the Home Office appears to regard local forces as a convenient source of extra resources and, somewhat euphemistically, refer to it as the 'rebalancing of resources'.
"That's a new one on me and not a proposal that I can recommend to my police and crime commissioner."
Earlier this month, the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) raised concerns about the number of retired police officers in the IPCC.
Mr Hollis said: "The HASC criticised the IPCC for employing too many retired police officers.
"They recommend reducing the number from 30 per cent to 20 per cent. And remember, they only employ retired police officers.
"Now, the Home Secretary appears to be proposing not only to increase the number of police in the IPCC but to transfer in serving officers. How does that add up?"
Mr Hollis has also questioned the statistics used by the Government to back the plans.
He said: "The Home Office appears to be somewhat selective on the statistics it quotes to support the proposed changes.
"It states that 31 per cent of appeals of the complaint investigations by local forces are successful but that figure varies considerable.
"In Humberside during 2011-12, only six per cent of such appeals were upheld."
Humberside police and crime commissioner Matthew Grove backed Mr Hollis's comments.
He said: "The proposals from the Home Secretary are at a preliminary stage. However, I share the chief constable's concerns that, perhaps, it should not be purely police officers investigating police officers but other professional people involved who will be independent of the policing profession.
"The police force, where the complaint originates, should bear the cost of any investigation."