IPCC chief calls for extra powers to investigate police officers

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Police officers under investigation over deaths in the line of duty should be compelled to attend interviews to show that they cannot defy the independent police watchdog, its new chairman said last night.

Dame Anne Owers called for extra powers and more money to investigate alleged wrongdoing by police officers and private security staff in her first major speech since starting work at the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in February.

The former chief inspector of prisons said that the organisation was about to start a new recruitment drive for non-police investigators after criticisms of the organisation for being too cosy with police forces it was probing. Nearly one quarter of its investigators are former police officers.

The family of Mark Duggan, whose shooting in Tottenham last August sparked four nights of rioting across the country, last week called for the organisation to be disbanded because of alleged bias. The inquiry into the shooting has been hampered by the refusal of officers involved in the shooting to be interviewed by investigators.

Dame Anne said that the refusal of officers to be interviewed had “considerable effects on public confidence in our role and the robustness and speed of our investigations”.

“Such a provision would, at least, ensure that officers came through the door and were not seen, by families and the public, to be evading interview and essentially defying the IPCC as the statutory investigative authority,” she said in a lecture at the Police Foundation last night.