I have many misgivings regarding the police complaint system but one criticism that I could level on near enough every complaint I have handled is the deliberate restriction of time to appeal against a police force decision.
Let me expand.
On the basis that a police force has carried out a full investigation, they will forward their final report to the Complainant.
The Complainant then has (a relatively short) 28 days from the date of the letter received from the police to lodge an appeal to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (‘IPCC’).
If the appeal is not lodged within that time period, the IPCC do not have to consider the appeal.
The IPCC say that they “may be able to extend this time period if you have very special circumstances and you can fully explain your reasons for asking for an extension”.
Note that the clock ticks from the date of the letter from the police.
One would assume that a letter would arrive within one or two days of the date of that letter.
With every police force I have dealt with however, it is invariably longer.
I am currently reviewing a case where the letter from Merseyside Police was dated 20th July and yet received at my office on 26th July.
This is, in my opinion, a deliberate tactic to reduce a Complainants “appeal time” and therefore reducing the chances of an appeal being lodged.
As appeals often affect the outcome of civil actions against the police, innocent victims of police misconduct are being denied their legal right to an investigation into their complaint, and may miss out on an apology and/or compensation where wrongdoing has been identified. This unfair practice must stop.