Aug 15, 2012
Changes to the codes that determine how detainees in England and Wales are treated have been made following successful representations by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
Three significant amendments have been made to the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) codes that could help reduce the numbers of deaths and serious injuries in custody. There were 15 deaths in or following police custody during 2011/12.
The changes follow work undertaken earlier this year by the IPCC when it helped shape new Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) national guidance on the safer detention and handling of detainees.
The PACE definition of intoxication has been removed and replaced with ‘under the influence’ so that those suspected of being under the influence of drink or drugs are checked every half hour.
The IPCC called for this change following its report into a complaint made by the family of Gary Reynolds, who fell into a coma while in the custody of Sussex Police. He was found unconscious in his cell hours after being arrested for being drunk and disorderly.
Mr Reynolds was suffering from a head injury but had been identified as drunk and therefore not checked regularly or roused. The PACE codes have been amended so that more checks are made on detainees by custody staff and an adequate level of care provided.
The second PACE change secured by the IPCC relates to the way improper treatment can be reported during detention. There is now more scope for reporting, thereby reducing the risk of some incidents not being logged.
The third change clarifies that custody officers retain overall responsibility for the care of detainees, even if some tasks have been delegated to others, including private contractors. The changes also mean custody officers must be satisfied that those carrying out those tasks are suitable, trained and competent to carry them out.
The codes now stipulate that if any duties are performed by other staff, then the outcomes shall be reported as soon as is practicable to the actual custody officers who retain overall responsibility for the care and treatment of detainees.
IPCC Commissioner Mike Franklin said: "These changes will help to ensure that people in the care of the police will get adequate care and checks during their detention, which in turn could mean that the number of deaths and serious injuries is reduced.”
For further information contact the IPCC press office on 0161 2468633
An act of parliament that provides the core framework of police powers to combat crime and provide codes of practice for the exercise of these powers.
Leads and manages the development of the police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The body that represents the interests of all police constables, sergeants, and inspectors.
Department within a police force that deals with complaints and conduct matters.
The average is calculated using the individual results of the forces in that most similar force group.
An investigation carried out by IPCC staff.
Carried out by the police under their own direction and control. The IPCC sets the terms of reference and receives the investigation report when it is complete. Complainants have a right of appeal following a supervised investigation (unless it is an investigation into a direction and control matter).
This act sets out how the police complaints system operates.
How a police force is run, for example policing standards or policing policy.
An investigation carried out by the police under the direction and control of the IPCC.
An intelligence-led agency with law enforcement powers, it is also responsible for reducing the harm that is caused to people and communities by serious organised crime.
Investigations carried out entirely by the police. Complainants have a right of appeal following a local investigation (unless it is an investigation into a direction and control matter).
A person is adversely affected is he or she suffers any form of loss or damage, distress or inconvenience, if he or she is put in danger or is otherwise unduly put at risk of being adversely affected.
IPCC guidance to the police service and police authorities on the handling of complaints.
Parameters within which an investigation is conducted.
This could be the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Common Council for the City of London, or the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime.
A flexible process for dealing with complaints that can be adapted to the needs of the complainant. It may involve, for example, providing information and explanation, an apology, or a meeting between the complainant and the officer complained about.
Consists of a chair, two deputy chairs, and commissioners – each responsible for specific police forces, guardianship work and individual cases.
Disapplication means that a police force may handle a complaint in whatever manner it thinks fit, including not dealing with it under complaints legislation. This may only take place in certain limited circumstances where the complaint fits one or more of the grounds for disapplication set out in law.
The ending of an ongoing investigation into a complaint, conduct matter or DSI matter. An investigation may only be discontinued if it meets one or more of the grounds for discontinuance set out in law.
Used to house anyone who has been detained.
Complainants have the right to appeal to the IPCC if a police force did not record their complaint or notify the correct police force if it was made originally to the wrong force.
The purpose of an investigation is to establish the facts behind a complaint, conduct matter, or DSI matter; and reach conclusions. An investigator looks into a complaint and produces a report that details the outcome of each allegation. There are four types of investigation: local investigation, supervised investigation, managed investigation and independent investigation.
A person who makes a complaint about the conduct of someone serving with the police.
The type of behaviour being complained about. A single complaint case can have one or many allegations attached.
An independent judicial officer, the coroner enquires into deaths reported to him/her.
A record is made of a complaint, giving it formal status as a complaint under the Police Reform Act 2002.
No further action may be taken with regard to a complaint if the complainant decides to retract their allegation(s).
Casework involves assessing appeals. Casework staff also have a role in overseeing the police complaints system to help ensure police forces handle complaints in the best possible way.
The IPCC must be notified about specific types of complaint or incidents to be able to decide how they should be dealt with.
Conduct includes acts, omissions, statements and decisions (whether actual, alleged or inferred). For example: language used and the manner or tone of communications.
An application by a complainant for a police decision to be reviewed.