IPCC Dismisses Case Against Dorset PCC
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill has welcomed a decision by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to dismiss an allegation of misconduct in a public office made against him, by a long standing complainant from Dorset in relation to road safety practices.
The complainant made a formal complaint to the Dorset Police and Crime Panel in early November 2014. The panel then referred the case to the IPCC on 11 November 2014.
Martyn Underhill said: “This complainant had been corresponding with Dorset Police, long before the PCC elections in 2012. Upon my arrival as PCC I instigated a full independent enquiry led by Hampshire Police, with Terms of Reference agreed by myself and the complainant. Following receipt of that lengthy report and the response to supplementary questions raised by myself I made the decision that whilst there were lessons learned that have since been implemented, that the complaint was not upheld. The complainant then appealed to the IPCC in September this year and that appeal was turned down. The complainant then focused their grievance on me as they did not agree with the outcome of the investigation or the IPCC decision. It is this element of the matter that saw the Police and Crime Panel refer the matter to the IPCC. I welcome the decision made by the IPCC and I am glad that this matter is resolved once and for all.”
In a letter to Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill dated 25 November 2014, The IPCC detailed it’s determination that in accordance with the Elected Local Policing Bodies Regulations 2012, it is not necessary to investigate the complaint against the Dorset PCC for the following reasons:
1) The IPCC in its appeal determination dated 22 September 2014 concluded that the investigation had been appropriate and the Dorset PCC had arrived at the correct conclusions on the evidence. The complaint is in essence challenging that assessment.
2) If the complainant wishes to challenge the 22 September 2014 appeal assessment, the proper avenue is to apply for a judicial review. To do so by making this complaint is an abuse of the complaints procedure and/or is vexatious.
3) Even if this complaint was not an abuse of the complaints system, the IPCC decided that it was unnecessary to investigate for the following reasons:
- The original complaint was a ‘direction and control’ matter which, at the time it was made, should not have been recorded and that there was no evidence that it qualified under the Police Reform Act 2002. Therefore, there is no duty to carry out the investigation and the PCC cannot breach his duties in relation to it.
- Under the Police Reform Act 2002, the PCC has no role in carrying out an investigation, or its conclusions. The PCCs role would be to decide, once the investigator’s report had been concluded, whether to bring disciplinary proceedings.
- Even if the PCC had any duty in relation to the investigation, there is no evidence that he wilfully breached it, or that any breach was of the degree required for an offence of misconduct in a public office to have been committed.
Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill added: “I welcome the very clear decision made by the IPCC and I hope that the Police and Crime Panel now consider, as I do, that this matter is resolved once and for all. I look forward to formally hearing from them as soon as possible.”