Lengthy Independent Office for Police Conduct investigations cost taxpayers millions of pounds each year, new research has shown, figures that Gloucestershire Police Federation has said are “startling”.
The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has estimated that an investigation that lasts up to six months costs £15,101 per officer, which goes up to £302,012 when it drags on for five years or more – 20 times the amount.
The costs are even higher for suspended officers, where a six-to-12-month investigation costs approximately £67,968, and after five years it is an astonishing £453,115 per officer. This is due to forces having to replace officers in their roles while they are suspended.
Gloucestershire Police Federation Conduct Lead Tom Ford said: “The numbers outlined in this research clearly show that the longer an investigation is allowed to drag on, the more rapidly the financial cost grows. That costs are 20 times more for a five-year investigation than a six-month investigation is ludicrous and needs to be highlighted.
“And the figures are even worse for officers who are suspended. I’m sure the public would want money being spent on investigating crime and keeping people safe as opposed to spending it on an investigation which should have been finalised much earlier in most circumstances.”
The findings have been shared with MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee as part of its inquiry into the IOPC and the time taken to resolve complaints against police officers.
PFEW’s Time Limits campaign, which launched in 2019, pushes for investigations to be concluded within a year, highlighting the impact of long investigations on police officers, their families and colleagues, as well as public trust in policing.
Tom said: “The impact of lengthy misconduct investigations on officers is often the first thing to be highlighted by the Federation and that is right and proper. The mental and physical effects on the officer and their family and friends is often massive and far-reaching.
“But until now we haven’t always highlighted the financial impact of these investigations. The amount of money spent on these investigations is startling. The public deserves to know how much is being spent on unduly lengthy investigations.
“As we stand these lengthy investigations are allowed to continue, with limited options available to officers and representatives to hold the IOPC to account.”
He continued: “Officers should always be held accountable for their actions, but this should be proportionate both in terms of the investigation, but also how taking into account the impact, which includes the financial cost.
“Put simply, the public will not have trust in a system which is too lengthy. The Time Limits campaign will help to build trust in the system.”