Letter: Police complaints acted on promptly

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Sir: Simon Garfield ('Kenneth and Audrey's ordeal', 5 September) alleges that the Police Complaints Authority acted 'with bureaucratic languor and after many months denied any malpractice' in the case of Kenneth and Audrey Higginson.

Since, under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, the investigation of Mr and Mrs Higginson's complaint did not have to be supervised by this authority, the investigation was carried out by Derbyshire Constabulary. Their report was sent to this authority on 10 January 1992. We gave careful consideration to the evidence arising from the investigation and wrote to Mr and Mrs Higginson on 7 February. We are committed, as far as it is possible, to completing files within 28 days of receipt, which we achieved.

Our remit is to investigate and review complaints against police in the context of the police discipline code. While we will bring any evidence suggesting there may have been a wrongful conviction uncovered by an investigation to the appropriate department, it is not our role to determine the innocence or guilt of a complainant. The authority's role extends only to allegations of misbehaviour against police officers. In order to prove such allegations, the evidence must prove the disciplinary charge to the higest standard, that is 'beyond reasonable doubt'.

Yours faithfully,



Police Complaints Authority

London, SW1

8 September