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New police complaints procedure proposed 29 June 2007

TYNWALD Members will be asked to receive and approve a report at their July sitting in Douglas seeking to give greater independence to the police complaints procedure (item 9 on the Order Paper).

Home Affairs Minister Martyn Quayle MHK will move the Isle of Man Police Complaints Procedure Recommendation to Tynwald report, which follows recommendations made by the Select Committee on the Petition for Redress of Grievance of Roy Redmayne.

The report contains details of the proposed new procedure to enable the Police Complaints Commissioner independently to manage the investigation of complaints against Isle of Man police officers.

Potentially costing an additional £100,000 per year on average to administer, the new procedure would ensure increased independence by:

  • Moving responsibility for appointing the Police Complaints Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner from the Department of Home Affairs to the Chief Secretary’s Office.
  • Requiring the Commissioner to proactively review all police complaints in conjunction with the Deputy Chief Constable, which will identify in a timely fashion any complaints that the Commissioner believes should be investigated under independent control i.e. those that cannot be resolved by informal resolution. The Commissioner would have the final say in relation to the decision on these matters.
  • Enabling the Commissioner to contract Investigation Managers – experienced investigators who are not serving police officers – to look into all aspects of a complaint against a police officer and manage the investigation.
  • Enabling the Commissioner to employ an external organisation such as the United Kingdom’s Independent Police Complaints Commission to carry out investigations in serious cases, such as death in custody, when specialists and a higher degree of independence are required. The report proposes that dialogue with the UK’s Independent Police Complaints Commission is instigated in order to formalise this process, as no framework currently exists to refer serious cases onto them.
  • Establishing an appeals procedure provided under the Tribunals Act 2006 which will enable a means of review if the complainant is unsatisfied with the process or the outcome.

Mr Quayle commented:

‘The Department is seeking to provide the Police Complaints Commissioner with increased independence and clearly identified rights to investigate complaints against police officers, without going to the huge expense of establishing a new office to investigate what has been a modest number of complaints received in recent years and historically against the police.
‘Unlike the UK, the Island’s proposed complaints procedure will also permit, where practicable, investigations to take place against officers who are no longer serving officers of Isle of Man Constabulary where it is felt it would be of benefit, not least in addressing the complainant’s points.’

Primary legislation will have to be changed to enable a number of the measures to be implemented, such as the appeals system to be put in place, and to allow the Commissioner to oversee an investigation into shootings and death in custody. The proposed procedure will require the majority of Schedule 1 of the Police Act 1993 to be repealed, as the procedure laid out in this Act will become superseded.

Providing Tynwald approves the new procedure set out in the Isle of Man Police Complaints Procedure Recommendation to Tynwald report, a new Bill would be drafted outlining the new police complaints process. The Bill will propose that the DHA is granted powers to make regulations in respect of police complaints, subject to Tynwald approval, thereby limiting the need for future primary legislative changes as the police complaints process matures.

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