Justice for Leon: Talk of IPCC reform needs to be followed with action

Flowers left outside Luton Police Station in memory of Leon Briggs
Flowers left outside Luton Police Station in memory of Leon Briggs

Calls for “radical reform” to the Independent Police Complaints Commission need to be followed through with actions, according to a Luton campaign group.

On Monday the IPCC released annual statistics which showed that the amount of complaints made against police officers in England and Wales has hit a record high.

Beds Police fared poorly in the report, with 353 complaints lodged against the force in 2013-14 (a 29% year on year rise).

Following the release of the data IPCC chair Dame Anne Owers issued her concern that the police watchdog is not fit for purpose in its current form.

She said: “It is clear from these statistics that forces still struggle to get it right first time, and there are now serious questions about whether they get it right the second time either.

“We will continue to work with them to improve complaints handling.

“But that is not enough...we urgently need radical reforms to the system as a whole, to make it more accessible and straightforward, and to strengthen independent oversight.

“That is why the current review of the system is welcome and overdue.”

The approach has been cautiously welcomed by the campaign group set up after the death of Luton man Leon Briggs.

Justice for Leon spokesperson Liberty Louise said: “Until there is concrete evidence that something will be done the suspicion will always be there that the IPCC works against families, not with them.

“It is not a straighforward system, it is very obstructive for families trying to get somewhere.

“The language they use can also be difficult to understand for those not familiar with legal terms – the whole thing needs to be more family orientated.”

She added: “The IPCC’s powers also needs to be looked at, currently it is toothless.”