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Fed says case is not isolated example. A constable remains confined to his station more than four years after being acquitted of assault while the IPCC’s investigation into him drags on. Met PC Joe Harrington, who describes policing as “all I ever wanted to do” has now been on restricted duties for longer than he served, prior to an accusation was made against him which was dismissed by a jury in a matter of minutes. The Police Federation of England and Wales are highlighting his case as one of dozens they say the slow processes of the Independent Police Complaints Commission have caused. In a statement issued through the staff association, PC Harrington, 33, said: “I am still barred from any contact with the public at work; I can’t be promoted, leave the service or move roles. I was acquitted at a jury trial years ago but I can’t move on with my life because this IPCC investigation is always lurking in the background. “I have been with my partner for 13 years and we have a five-year-old daughter, but we have no stability in our home life; my partner was eight months’ pregnant when this originally happened but we felt we could not get married with this hanging over us. “For a long time there was a fear that I might go to prison, now it’s the fear that we might be left with a single income.” Asked if he would return to policing if the investigation is lifted, PC Harrington, who says he now suffers post-traumatic stress disorder told PoliceOracle.com: “Policing is all I ever wanted to do, but I don't want to put myself in a position where this could happen to me again. “I would have to think very hard about going into a role with any scope for confrontation.” The Newham-based officer restrained a teenager in custody during the 2011 London riots. He had been serving for three years at the time. The 15-year-old accused him of assault and the watchdog was called in. The CPS initially said there was no case to answer, however it reversed its decision and ended up charging him with assault occasioning actual bodily harm. PC Harrington was suspended from work until the trial in March 2013, where a jury took less than half an hour to acquit him. “The IPCC were unhappy with my acquittal and told the press that they would recommend to the Met that I be sacked,” he said. The IPCC Commissioner who directed the case is Jennifer Izekor, who stood down in March while Police Scotland began investigating an unrelated matter she was involved in. PC Harrington has also been the subject of other complaints which the IPCC have spent years investigating, and in 2015 the Court of Appeal ruled that the watchdog was entitled to re-open a case against him, and any other it decides that it had not pursued properly in the first instance if its initial investigations were flawed. “Although my suspension has been lifted, I have spent the four years since my acquittal in a seemingly endless cycle of being investigated and reinvestigated, and confined to a desk in the station," the officer added. “The IPCC have twice been to the High Court to overturn reports that they had written, so that they could have another stab at it.” PC Harrington told PoliceOracle.com he has received support from the Met but they decided not to remove him from restricted duties. He said: “I think they’re concerned about the negative press they would receive if they lifted the restrictions. Several officers have spoken up for me but the decision was they would not be lifting restrictions until the misconduct process is removed.” The Police Federation of England and Wales is holding a special session at its conference next week on the IPCC. The association’s conduct lead Phill Mathews said: “Sadly Joe’s story is not an isolated case and really highlights the effects of such drawn out cases on officers and their families. “We want to work with the IPCC and forces to ensure that officers are treated fairly and complaints investigated expeditiously so that yet more public money doesn't get wasted, our members and their families are no longer made ill, driven out of the service or have unwarranted press intrusion in their lives.” A spokesman for the IPCC said their investigation into the assault case was completed within five months, but the reactions of the force and complainant held up proceedings. As did a move to quash its own findings in a separate matter relating to PC Harrington. She added: "The report was submitted to the Metropolitan Police (MPS) in June 2013 and in August 2014 the force agreed he should face a gross misconduct hearing but requested a delay to setting a hearing date pending the outcome of a linked case involving the same officer. The IPCC accepted this request." The watchdog says it completed the investigation into the linked case in October 2012 but sought to reinvestigate one element of it and the Met’s legal challenge against the plan held it up. “Separately, the 15-year-old male submitted a large number of complaints which were all investigated by the MPS. “The complainant lodged a number of appeals against the force’s findings which resulted in the MPS reinvestigating areas of the complaint. “In October 2016 the MPS reinvestigation did not uphold the complaints against the constable. The complainant appealed in November 2016 and in January 2017 the IPCC upheld the complaint,” she added. The spokesman added that the Met was then directed to hold a gross misconduct hearing into the matters, despite the force disagreeing with the findings. A spokesman for the Met said this direction was received last week and a hearing is “in the process of being arranged”. View on Police Oracle
Dame Anne Owers attacked the commissioner after he asked for greater public support for armed firearms officers. The head of the IPCC has accused the Met commissioner of falsely claiming armed officers are “increasingly” treated as suspects. Dame Anne Owers responded to Bernard Hogan-Howe’s calls for greater public support for by saying “facts don’t support” the feeling that AFOs are treated as suspects as soon as they use their weapons. The chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Commission had an article published in The Times which insisted the body “doesn’t treat police witnesses as suspects”. She said: “The debate over police use of firearms has generated a number of myths and selective facts. “This week Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the outgoing Metropolitan Police commissioner, called for greater public support of firearms officers who, he said, were increasingly treated as suspects in investigations by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which I chair. “The facts don’t support this. “Since 2010 we’ve completed 24 firearms investigations, eight of which related to fatalities. “In all but three of them, including six of the fatal shootings, no firearms officer was ever treated as a suspect; they were all treated as witnesses. “Sir Bernard also complains about the length of time it takes to investigate shootings. This is something about which the police and the public are rightly concerned. But it is too easy to blame the IPCC alone. “When police witnesses co-operate fully and early, we can complete our investigations much more quickly. By contrast, when they don’t, for example giving statements that simply say when they came on and off duty or refusing to answer questions at interview, it takes much longer. “No one benefits, whether they are police officers or bereaved families.” Ms Owers went on to defend “rigorous independent scrutiny” adding: “We have proposed fresh guidance to get the best evidence when someone dies or is seriously injured. “It doesn’t treat police witnesses as suspects. It does aim to separate officers while they give their first accounts, to prevent conferring or contamination by other evidence. “Doing it early ensures that we can secure necessary evidence. Of course in a major terrorist incident we would not expect to do this until the risk had passed. “We will do our bit to make sure that our investigations are both robust and timely and the proposed guidance will help to ensure this. “Rigorous independent scrutiny is not a threat: it is a protection. If the police appear to shy away from this, there is a real risk to public trust. “As Sir Bernard has said, our police officers rarely discharge firearms, and even more rarely with fatal effect. When they do, it is in everyone’s interest that this is thoroughly investigated, with early and full co-operation from those involved.” View on Police Oracle