IPCC: Police watchdog expansion 'on track'

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Media captionTheresa May was speaking at the College of Policing

A newly-empowered police watchdog will begin investigating complaints against the police next year, Home Secretary Theresa May has said.

The expansion of the Independent Police Complaints Commission is "on track", she told the College of Policing.

It came after a report by MPs said the IPCC was "overwhelmed, woefully under-equipped and failing to get to the truth of allegations".

Mrs May also announced the creation of the first-ever police code of ethics.

The plans follow concern over force standards in wake of the phone-hacking scandal, the handling of the Hillsborough disaster, the so-called plebgate affair and the sacking of several senior officers.

Code of ethics

Mrs May said in a speech at the College of Policing that it was "astonishing" the police have never had a code of ethics.

She said the college's new code of ethics would be like a "Hippocratic Oath of policing" - setting down standards which all officers will be expected to follow.

The college said the code would apply to more than 220,000 police officers and staff across England and Wales.

Chief Constable Alex Marshall, Chief Executive of the College of Policing, said: "The code of ethics is a first for policing in England and Wales.

"It is a national document reflecting the core principles and standards of behaviour that every member of the police service should strive to maintain.

"We do not want this to be 'just another document' for officers and staff to read.

"It must be one that is used to help people make professional decisions - to do the right thing in the right way.

"It encourages officers and staff to report improper conduct and never ignore unprofessional behaviour by a colleague."

'Beefed up'

The IPCC's expansion will allow it to take on all serious and sensitive allegations made against officers.

In February, Mrs May said it would create a stronger and more consistent system of vetting.

Mrs May said that some forces, as well as police and crime commissioners, had attempted to resist the transfer of resources required for the IPCC to take on a bigger role.

"I want to say to them very clearly that the events of last year prove overwhelmingly the case for a beefed-up IPCC and that is what I'm determined to deliver.

"The expansion of the IPCC is on track and the IPCC will begin to take on additional cases from next year," she said.

New powers were given to the IPCC before it investigated allegations that police officers were involved in a cover-up of failings following the 96 deaths at the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy.

The home secretary said further powers could be given to the commission if required in the future.

One in four officers faced complaints between 2011 and 2012.

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