HL Deb 19 December 2000 vol 620 cc45-6WA

Baroness Howells of St Davids asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they will announce the proposals for a new system for dealing with complaints against the police. [HL196]

Lord Bassam of Brighton

This afternoon we are publishing a framework of a new system to handle complaints made against police officers. There are some areas which require further work and we are inviting views on these so that they can be finalised.

It was last May that the Government published a consultation document which was based on reports of two separate studies. The first study was commissioned from the management consultants KPMG in order to take forward recommendations made by the Home Affairs Select Committee in its report on the police disciplinary and complaints procedures and by Sir William Macpherson's report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. The second study was by the human rights organisation Liberty.

The outcome of the consultation is that the Government propose to set up a new body to handle complaints; it will be called the independent police complaints commission.

My honourable friend the Minister of State for the department, Mr Charles Clarke, previously indicated his sympathy for the principle of an independent system for investigating complaints against the police and we are pleased to announce that a key element of the new system will be the independent investigations of the more serious complaints. Two other key elements of the new system will be easier accessibility to the system for complainants and more openness in dealing with complainants.

We are very grateful to all those who took part in the consultation; in particular, the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), which has called repeatedly for reforms so that it could increase its effectiveness and independence. The PCA's response pointed the way towards independent investigations, easier accessibility and more openness.

Copies of the framework document have been arranged to be placed in the Library.