Home Office approves Independent Office for Police Conduct guidance and concludes firearms review

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has approved revised Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) guidance which “strikes the right balance” between the need for robust investigation while also supporting firearms officers in the line of duty.

The IOPC’s Section 22 guidance, which has been made statutory, includes a preference that key police witnesses should be separated after an incident, but also gives senior officers operational discretion to use alternatives, like recording proceedings on body-worn cameras.

This completes the Home Office review into police use of firearms, which was commissioned following concerns officers could be deterred from volunteering for armed roles if they didn’t feel sufficiently protected.

The review has concluded that the right legal and procedural protections are in place for officers following a police shooting and, in a great majority of incidents, officers were dealt with as witnesses rather than suspects.

Sajid Javid said: “Firearms officers are highly-trained professionals who do a uniquely challenging job, putting themselves in harm’s way to protect the public and taking split-second decisions on whether to discharge their weapons. Any use of force by the police must be proportionate and necessary and the public must have confidence that investigations following a police shooting incident are independent and robust. We must also make sure armed officers feel empowered to use their skills and experience in order to save lives in the most dangerous situations.”

The Government’s approval of the IOPC Section 22 guidance sets out a police officer’s responsibilities and duties in the period immediately following a death or serious injury during arrest, in or following custody or after a firearms incident. The new guidelines take effect immediately.

Revised CPS guidance

Home Secretary Sajid Javid

Home Secretary Sajid Javid

Additionally, the Crown Prosecution Service has published revised guidance which requires prosecutors to take into account the dynamic and often fast-evolving situations police find themselves in when considering a prosecution.

The revised guidance takes into account recent court judgements and ensures there’s a consistent approach to prosecutions involving self-defence and reasonable force by police.

The firearms review has also concluded that the police and the IOPC agreed post-incident procedures for the aftermath of a terrorist attack. As a result, the post-incident procedures that followed last year’s terrorist attacks worked well and were concluded quickly

The length of time taken to conclude IOPC investigations, inquests and sometimes further legal proceedings following a fatality causes distress to both officers and families of the deceased. In a very small number of cases, the period of time has been significant. However, the average length of an independent investigation by the IOPC has fallen and improving the timeliness of these investigations remains a key priority to avoid distress to families and police officers.

The Home Office is leading on work to look for further improvements to make the process simpler and quicker. The police service (along with other partners) also has a role to play in reducing delays.

The latest Home Office figures have revealed recruits of firearms officers are up by 3% compared to the previous year (to 6,459 as of March 2018) following a £144 million funding boost for armed policing at the 2015 Spending Review.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

Related Posts