§ Mr. Jenkins
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what steps he takes to assess whether appropriate disciplinary action is taken against police officers whose conduct while not on duty is found to be improper; 
(2) what action he is taking to ensure that complaints by the public relating to a police officer's conduct while not on duty are investigated; 
(3) what action he is taking to ensure that the Police Complaints Authority has access to all necessary evidence while conducting investigations into improper conduct by police officers when not on duty; 
(4) what steps he takes to assess the extent to which police forces release information regarding the outcome of a complaint to those that make the complaint, when release of such information is not prohibited by data protection legislation. 669W
§ Ms Blears
The Police (Conduct) Regulations 1999 set out at Schedule 1 a Code of Conduct, the principles of which guide police officers' behaviour. The Code applies to the conduct of police officers in all ranks while on duty, or while off duty, if the conduct is serious enough to indicate that an officer is not fit to be a police officer.
Any breach of the principles in the Code may result in an officer facing misconduct proceedings under the Police (Conduct) Regulations 1999. Chief officers are responsible for applying the Regulations to their own forces.
The investigation of complaints by the public relating to the conduct of a police officer falls under Chapter I, Part IV, of the Police Act 1996 (the Act). Under those provisions the police authority is the appropriate authority for handling complaints against senior officers (those above the rank of chief superintendent) and the chief officer of the force is the appropriate authority for recording and investigating complaints in respect of all other ranks.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department does not have the power to intervene in either the recording or investigation of individual complaints, whether they concern on or off duty conduct, or in any disciplinary proceedings.
Under Section 72 of the Act, the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) will supervise the investigation of certain types of complaints and it is within that process of supervision that it will have access to all the necessary evidence, primarily by way of the Investigating Officer's report. In such cases, the PCA may also impose such additional reasonable requirements as to the conduct of the investigation as appear to them necessary.
There is currently no statutory requirement for a force to disclose information to a complainant. The Secretary of State for the Home Department does not assess the extent to which police forces release information to a complainant regarding the outcome of a complaint.
A new police complaints system will be introduced from April 2004 under provisions in the Police Reform Act 2002. This new system will operate under the guardianship of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
The new system will not change the Secretary of State for the Home Department's role in regard to the handling of complaints or disciplinary proceedings taken against police officers. Similarly, although it does not change the handling with regard to supervised complaints, it does provide for a managed investigation by the IPCC and for an independent investigation by the IPCC. As these two new types of investigation will put the IPCC in full control of the investigation, they will have unrestricted access to all the necessary evidence. Finally, with regards to the disclosure of information, the new complaints system places a clear duty on the police to keep the complainant properly informed during, and at the end of, an investigation, subject to a sensitivity test.