Letter: 'Independent' investigations

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The Independent Online
Sir: The chairman of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), Sir Leonard Peach, certainly seems in your interview with him ('Policing police performance', 29 April) to want to have his cake and eat it.

On the one hand, Sir Leonard states that he can 'see no reason' for an independent investigation of police complaints and is happy to rely on the police themselves to record and follow up complaints, interview complainants and witnesses (as chosen by them) and prepare investigation reports which are then (almost invariably) approved by the PCA. On the other hand, Sir Leonard wants to add the prefix 'independent' to the name of the authority.

A couple of years ago the authority (under a different chairmanship) did add the word 'independent' to its title on official publications. This was quickly dropped as it had no statutory basis, but it was also completely incongruous for a body that relies so heavily on the police to perform its functions.

Although the PCA may strictly be independent of the police, the police complaints system (of which the PCA is a small part) is so reliant upon the police themselves that it would be misleading for the PCA to change its name. To do so would risk giving the impression that the whole complaints structure is independent.

Yours faithfully,

STEPHEN CRAGG

JOHN HARRISON

London, E5

29 April

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