Letter: Quality of police investigations

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The Independent Online
Sir: Peter Moorhouse, the Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority, reveals a telling sensitivity to any hint of criticism of police investigations conducted under the supervision of his members (Letters, 4 August).

The deliberations in the corridors of the PCA and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on the tragic death of Shiji Lapite concluded in their decisions that the police officers involved should not face criminal or disciplinary proceedings - decisions which they were unable to uphold or justify before the High Court.

One would have thought it inevitable that those deliberations must have been shaped and influenced by the quality of the information received from the police investigation into that case. The Chairman would have us believe that there was nothing wrong with the quality of that police investigation, in which event the decision makers in the PCA and the CPS are left to shoulder on their own the entire responsibility for the manifest efforts undertaken to avoid the obvious implications of the evidence as revealed before the High Court.

As it is, the PCA conceded before the court that their decision not to recommend disciplinary charges was flawed and unjustifiable because they had allowed themselves to be persuaded against recommending disciplinary charges by representations from the Commander of the Metropolitan Police Complaints Investigation Bureau which were subsequently found to be misleading.

The PCA may indeed be a "force for change", providing the Chairman and his members show themselves to be more willing to resist the temptation of compromise and capitulation under the inevitable pressure of the police lobby on every aspect of their statutory functions in relation to the police complaints process.


B M Birnberg & Co

London NW1