Yvette Cooper: Labour government would scrap police watchdog following criticism of its performance in a series of cases


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Indy Politics

Labour will scrap the police watchdog following bitter criticism of its performance in a series of cases that have undermined public confidence in the service, Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, said today.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has repeatedly been accused of failing to get to the truth in controversial investigations.

Its critics include Stephen Lawrence’s family who said the IPCC did not adequately examine new claims – revealed this year by the Independent – that police corruption thwarted the inquiry into the black schoolboy’s murder.

Under Ms Cooper’s plan, it will be replaced by a new Police Standards Authority with beefed-up powers to investigate allegations of dishonesty, cover-ups and incompetence.

She told the Labour conference that the need to reform the IPCC had been demonstrated by the time it to discover the truth about the death of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson, who died after being struck by an officer during G20 protests.

She added: “It took far, far, too long for the truth to come out about the tragedy and senior police cover-up at Hillsborough.

“Liverpool needs justice. But we also need to make sure no-one ever, ever has to fight for the truth for 23 years after losing a loved-one or child.”

Ms Cooper said the IPCC’s chairwoman, Lady Owers, had complained about its lack of powers and added: “The public need to see that poor policing is dealt with to maintain confidence and consent for the vital work the police do. Police officers need to know serious problems will be rooted out so they don't cast a shadow over everyone else. We need reform.”

Plans for the new body will be overseen by Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police commissioner, who has been advising Labour on police reform.

The shadow Home Secretary said new action was needed to tackle domestic violence, highlighting statistics which show two women are killed every week by a partner.

She said: “I feel very strongly that more action is needed fast. We need proper minimum standards, backed by a new Domestic and Sexual Violence Board starting with rapid action to protect vulnerable children and young people.”

She also called for new laws to ensure the Serious Fraud Office can pursue bankers and economic crime and for loopholes to be closed that allow criminals to avoid having their assets seized.

Ms Cooper promised to fight the “privatisation” of the police and said that, following the G4S fiasco at the Olympics, private security firms would be prevented from taking over police duties at major events.