Editorial: Who polices the police? No one, apparently


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The Independent Online

It hardly needed an inquiry by MPs to reveal that the Independent Police Complaints Commission is not up to the job.

Indeed, Dame Anne Owers, the IPPC chairwoman, immediately acknowledged that her organisation "cannot do the job the public expect". All that can be hoped is that the Home Affairs Committee's damning conclusion that the quango is "woefully under-equipped" and has "neither the powers nor resources" to get to the bottom of questions over police integrity will – finally – force the Government to act.

The committee's calls for a greater focus on serious corruption, for an end to the practice of referring cases back to the force against which the complaint was lodged, and for a pruning of the number of former officers on the commission are a good place to start. The Hillsborough disaster, the Stephen Lawrence murder and the phone-hacking inquiry – to name but three examples – have eroded trust in the integrity of the police. An over-stretched, toothless IPCC, stuffed with insiders, only adds to the sense of an institution that looks after its own. A radical overhaul of the watchdog is central not only for the police to be effectively policed, but also for the public to believe them to be so.