Letter, 17 October 2013
Letter from West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones to Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission Dame Anne Owers
Dear Dame Anne
I am writing to express my extreme concern about the letter sent yesterday, 16 October 2013, from Deborah Glass, your Deputy Chair, to my colleague Ron Ball into which I was copied, and her press release of 15 October 2013.
These have led to extensive media coverage over an alleged earlier report that purported to recommend disciplinary action, which was subsequently changed by senior officers. I have received assurances from my Chief Constable that West Midlands Police received only one report with recommendations which concluded that no misconduct proceedings were necessary, although management advice would be appropriate. I would therefore ask you personally to look into the investigation as I am assured that no West Midlands officer made any amendments to this report. West Mercia Police, as the lead investigating authority, can provide the information about the report.
I would hope your further investigation into the assertion in Deborah Glassâ€™s letter, which has led to media speculation that senior officers interfered with the investigating officerâ€™s report, would show that this is a gross distortion of what actually took place. If the position is as she suggests, given she has the power to change the status of any investigation at any time, surely Deborah Glass should have immediately taken over this investigation.
Unless you have evidence to the contrary, I would expect an apology for what I consider to be an unwarranted attack on the integrity of the investigating officers.
I also want to express concern about the Deputy Chairâ€™s comments made in her press release of 15 October 2013 in which she explains her rationale for going public with her views. These were justified on the basis that the she had to place her disagreement with the conclusions of the appropriate authorities on public record. The press release states that there was no complainant and as these matters were referred to the IPCC by forces there is no appeal process. My concern is that in this case, given the outcome of a thorough and full process, officers have been condemned by your Deputy in public with no opportunity for redress. As Commissioner I believe that the complaints and conduct regime must deliver fairness to all to have public confidence.
If I was to make an analogy with the criminal justice process, the press release is akin to a police officer commenting after a trial that the accused was, despite being acquitted, guilty as hell. In this analogy, the letter of 16 October 2013 is equivalent to the officer further stating that the judge nobbled the jury who wanted a guilty verdict. Any police officer taking such actions could be facing disciplinary action.
Your Deputyâ€™s actions have led to a position where the integrity and honesty of the investigating teams she was supervising have been vilified in Parliament and the media. To maintain the confidence of the public, those charged with governance of the police service and the service itself, the IPCC must be seen to act with transparency, integrity and fairness. I do not believe that this has been the case here.
I hope that you also share my disappointment that the letter to Ron Ball was picked up by the media before I had the opportunity to read it. I would ask you to look very carefully to see if any of your staff were in any way responsible for spinning an interpretation of the letter which unfairly slurs the integrity of all those involved in the investigation process. If there is any evidence to support this I would assume you would consider whether disciplinary action is necessary.
Given that your Deputy Chairâ€™s letter is in the public domain I have no choice but to publish this response.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner