R (on the application of M) v Independent Police Complaints Commission
Queens Bench Division 6 July 2012
The claimant, a woman known as M, had made a complaint against the police service. She agreed to deal with her complaint by way of the Local Resolution Process, but was subsequently dissatisfied with the LRP and appealed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Her appeal was rejected.
Following litigation the matter arrived in the High Court. At issue was the rationale of paragraph 8(3) of Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002 (which concerned the admissibility, in subsequent litigation, of statements made by police under the LRP). The Judge offered an analogy between the LRP and mediation in civil proceedings. In proper police disciplinary investigations, officers being investigated are given a warning that they are not obliged to answer any questions (similar to the warning given to suspects in criminal proceedings). In the LRP, no such warning is given, as the LRP was not intended as a disciplinary process.
In the same way that frankness between parties is encouraged in mediation, the LRP encourages frankness in investigations. Paragraph 8(3) was a clear and absolute prohibition on the admission of statements made under the LRP. The Judge held that they would be inadmissible in any subsequent criminal, civil or disciplinary proceedings.
The decision confirms that the LRP is a pragmatic instrument for openness and co-operation between the police and public. The decision means that police forces will be better able to build and maintain positive relationships with the communities they serve.