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'Big mistake' - police chief hits out at IPCC
THE head of West Mercia Police has described a decision by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) not to review a report into the conduct of three Police Federation members as part of the Plebgate affair as “a big mistake”.
Following his appearance in front of the home affairs select committee in Westminster on Wednesday, chief constable David Shaw told your Worcester News that he was disappointed the organisation had not agreed to re-examine the report into the actions of the three officers – including West Mercia police inspector Ken MacKaill – after a meeting they held with former chief whip Andrew Mitchell last October.
Insp MacKaill, along with his colleagues from Warwickshire and West Midlands Police, called for Mr Mitchell’s resignation following their meeting with him to discuss the incident in Downing Street, in which he allegedly called officers ‘plebs’. Last week it was revealed a recommendation in an internal investigation by West Mercia Police that the trio should face a misconduct panel had been removed before it was published and on Wednesday Mr Shaw announced that the report was to be re-examined.
He said he had asked the IPCC to review the report but they had refused and instead it will be examined by an independent chief constable.
“I think that was a big mistake and it has come at a great cost,” he said.
Only Insp MacKaill’s conduct will be reviewed after the chief constables of Warwickshire and West Midlands Police yesterday refused to follow Mr Shaw’s lead in asking for the report to be re-examined.
Mr Shaw said: “It might seem strange that we’ve got a different view – but that is the way these things go. We are individual chief constables running individual forces.”
But he denied that Insp MacKaill – who was not available for interview – would become a ‘fall guy’ in the investigation.
“The law requires I do all parts of this properly,” he said. “I am sure Insp MacKaill would expect me to do this.”
Mr Shaw’s decision was praised by West Mercia police and crime commissioner Bill Longmore, who said he was also disappointed the IPCC had not agreed to review the investigation. “While I have sympathy with the officer affected by the decision to review the determination I think it important to ensure public confidence in the process,” he said.
He also said it was important to rebuild trust in the force, and Mr Shaw agreed it was important to restore faith in police as a whole.
“We will take a hit in public confidence – I can’t pretend otherwise,” he said. “That’s not something I take any pride in but I personally believe the public judge us on how they are treated when their house is burgled or their child goes missing.
“The best way to build trust is to continue to do the job we do.”