What is it?

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is a non-departmental public body in England and Wales responsible for overseeing the system for handling complaints made against police forces in England and Wales.

Is It Any Good?

A parliamentary inquiry setup in the wake of the death of Ian Tomlinson concluded in January 2013 that

“It has neither the powers nor the resources that it needs to get to the truth when the integrity of the police is in doubt.”

Well, Does The IPCC Have Any Real Power?

The statutory powers and responsibilities of the Commission are set out by the Police Reform Act 2002, and it came into existence on 1 April 2004, replacing the Police Complaints Authority.

Since 1 April 2004 the IPCC has used its powers to begin 353 independent and 759 managed investigations (as of 31 March 2009) into the most serious complaints against the police.

These included deaths in police custody, shootings and fatal traffic incidents.

The IPCC handles more than 4,500 appeals a year from members of the public about the way their complaint was dealt with by the local force, or its outcomes.


The IPCC’s independent investigators investigate the most serious complaints, for example where someone has died following contact with the police. And there are a number of types of incidents that the police, must mandatorily refer to the Commission.

These include deaths in police custody, shootings and fatal traffic incidents as well as allegations that an officer or member of police staff has committed a serious criminal offence.

Forces may also refer matters voluntarily to the IPCC and the Commission can ‘call in’ any matter where there might be serious public concern.

Once a matter has been referred, the IPCC will make a ‘mode of investigation’ decision to determine how it should be dealt with. This is done by caseworkers or investigators who submit an assessment to a Commissioner.

The assessment will involve judging the available information and may mean IPCC investigators are sent to the scene.

The IPCC also takes a lead role in developing new policy for the complaints system and for police practices.

The IPCC’s ten operational Commissioners and two non-executive Commissioners are appointed by the Home Secretary for a five or three-year period.

The Chair is appointed by the Crown on the recommendation of the Home Secretary.

Commissioners by law may not have served with the police at any time, been the Chair or a member of SOCA at any time or been a Commissioner or officer of Customs at any time.

The Commission is the governing board of the IPCC, holding collective responsibility for governance of the Commission including oversight of the Executive.

As public office holders, Commissioners oversee IPCC investigations and the promotion of public confidence in the complaints system (known as Guardianship).

Each Commissioner also has responsibility for a particular portfolio such as firearms, deaths in custody, road policing and youth engagement.

So…If the IPCC Investigates the Police That Must Mean They’re An Unbiased Body Right?

In February 2008, over a hundred lawyers who specialise in handling police complaints resigned from its advisory body; citing various criticisms of the IPCC including a pattern of favouritism towards the police, indifference and rudeness towards complainants, and complaints being rejected in spite of apparently powerful evidence in their support.

It has been noted that

“no policeman has ever been convicted of murder or manslaughter for a death following police contact, though there have been more than 400 such deaths in the past ten years alone.”

However Looking On The Bright Side…

There have been a number of police officers convicted of causing death by dangerous driving, including those responsible for the deaths of Hayley Adamson and Sandra Simpson.

Erroneous Rendition- Whoops! Our Bad!


In the words of former CIA Director George J. Tenet ‘Extraordinary Renditions’,

“have shattered terrorist cells and networks, thwarted terrorist plans, and in some cases even prevented attacks from occurring”

But what happens when in ‘some’ cases’ you make a mistake? After all giving a former student a bad grade in an exam should hardly necessitate your being abducted and tortured should it? The CIA has created a novel term for these mistakes,‘Erroneous Rendition’ the abduction of innocent people based on faulty analysis.

So, if for example, a CIA translator, listening in on my telephone conversation, mistranslates the Arabic word for ‘tires’, and comes up with the word ‘air-planes’ instead, I’m likely to find myself rendered to the nearest available torture friendly state, without access to any judicial process whatsoever. Well, how about if I bear a passing resemblance to somebody on the CIA hit list? Khaled EL-Masri would know far better than most what the consequences of that would be.

The German citizen was treated so appallingly that the American Ambassador had to tip toe to the German Interior Minister and sheepishly admit they had made a mistake. He then had to ask him and his government not to press charges. His, is not the only case, the former CIA Inspector General (2002-2009), John L. Helgerson, found himself obliged to look into several other CIA renditions. These were mistakes which had been spotted by congressional investigators, and which they stated appeared to rest on ‘a bad legal footing’, the CIA response?

“[They] looked into them and conceded that, yes, the renditions had been based on faulty analysis, but the renditions would have been approved even if the correct analysis had been used”

On the 13 December 2012, Khaled El-Masri was awarded compensation by the European Court of Human Rights; who ruled that he had been tortured by the CIA ,as a result of his transfer into their hands by Macedonia.To conclude with the words of ‘Radiofreewill’

“The 800Ib elephant in this story is the ‘authority’ that made these renditions happen-so powerful that its decisions were beyond the reach of analysis, or due process.”




The UK’s support for the CIA’s global rendition programme after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US was far more substantial than has previously been recognised,according to a new research project that draws on a vast number of publicly available data and documentation.

Evidence gathered by The Rendition Project – an interactive website that maps thousands of rendition flights – highlight 1,622 flights in and out of the UK by aircraft now known to have been involved in the agency’s secret kidnap and detention programme.

While many of those flights may not have been involved in rendition operations, the researchers behind the project have drawn on testimony from detainees, Red Cross reports, courtroom evidence, flight records and invoices to show that at least 144 were entering the UK while suspected of being engaged in rendition operations.

While the CIA used UK airports for refuelling and overnight stopovers, there is no evidence that any landed in the UK with prisoners on board. This may suggest that the UK government denied permission for this. In some cases, it is unclear whether the airline companies would have been aware of the purpose of the flights.

Some 51 different UK airports were used by 84 different aircraft that have been linked by researchers to the rendition programme. Only the US and Canada were visited more frequently.

The most used UK airport was Luton, followed by Glasgow Prestwick and Stansted.

There were also flights in and out of RAF Northolt and RAF Brize Norton.

The CIA’s use of UK airports was first reported by the Guardian in September 2005. Jack Straw, the then foreign secretary, dismissed the evidence, telling MPs in December that year that “unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, that behind this there is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States … there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition.”

Straw told the same MPs that media reports of UK involvement in the mistreatment of detainees were “in the realms of the fantastic”.

Documentation subsequently disclosed in the high court in London showed that Straw had consigned British citizens to Guantánamo Bay in Cuba after they were detained in Afghanistan in 2001.

He is also being sued by a Libyan dissident who was kidnapped and allegedly rendered to Tripoli along with his pregnant wife, after secret files seized during the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi detailed the role that MI6 played in the affair.

Scotland Yard is also investigating the UK’s role in renditions to Libya.

Shortly after September 11, the US government asked for permission to build a prison on the Indian Ocean atoll of  Diego Garcia, a British overseas territory that is one of the Chagos Islands and leased to the US for use as a military base.

This plan was shelved after a Royal Marines officer produced a report that highlighted the logistical difficulties, and the prison was instead built at Guantánamo.

Azelle Rodney Didn’t Have To Die


If I’d carried my child for nine months, and successfully given birth to him, I’d be overjoyed.

To raise that child into adulthood and have him give me the news that he himself was about to become a father, would leave me feeling exultant.

What I would not be looking for would be a phone call or a visit from the police informing me not only that my child is dead, but that he has been shot to death by a police armed response team.

To have a child knifed to death or even shot to death on the streets of some areas within Central London is something that would hardly be blinked at by many who live in those neighbourhoods.

But then you’re talking about criminal incidents taking place in neglected neighbourhoods, carried out by criminal gangs,and then investigated by the very people we have designated as the defenders of law and order.

So what do you do when, as has  happened in the case of Azelle Rodney in 2005, the so called defenders of justice appear to behave (in your eyes) every bit as lawlessly as the average criminal?

The Metropolitan Police’s Specialist Armed Command (the lawless coppers in question) has been severely criticised by a Public Independent Inquiry Chaired by former High Court Judge,Sir Christopher Holland.

If the evidence given during the inquiry is to be believed, it was a miracle that the police officers who intercepted the car Azelle Rodney was travelling in didn’t shoot each other.

It seems that the three young men in the car could have been stopped and arrested hours before they were,and that in short Azelle’s death could have been avoided.

The prevalence of black teenage gangs along with the prevalence of the ‘yardie’ myth has led to an often unspoken assumption that if a young black man gets shot down on the streets of London he was probably asking for it.

Not so Mr Rodney who according to his mother was looking forward to becoming a father and had never stepped anywhere near organised crime.

‘My son was executed’ she stated, an accusation that it is difficult to fault; given that the car he was travelling in was boxed in by the police in front and behind and that the occupants of the car in which he was a passenger were never given an opportunity to surrender.

As a  result of the inquiry there is every expectation that aspects of Azelle Rodney’s case will be re-examined;and every expectation that prosecutions will follow.

The subsequent findings won’t give Busan Alexander her son back; but they might well give her a clearer and more honest picture of what actually happened to her son. And what the state intends to do about it.

Children Flying Solo – Solitary Confinement & Its Psychological Impact

A range of international instruments provides that solitary confinement should not be
used other than in the most exceptional circumstances. The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT 1987) states :-

‘Solitary confinement can, in certain circumstances, amount to inhuman and degrading treatment; in any event, all forms of solitary confinement should be as short as possible’.

The terms solitary confinement, segregation, single separation and isolation are commonly used across the juvenile secure system in England.The practices vary from the possibility of a child spending several weeks in prison punishment cells,to a few minutes alone in a bedroom or office.

On behalf of the Howard League For Penal Reform, The Lord Carlile of Berriew QC carried out an independent inquiry into the use of physical restraint, solitary confinement and forcible strip searching of children in prisons, secure training centres and local authority secure children’s homes. In that inquiry he found that solitary confinement could and frequently did follow the use of physical force.

Between January 2004 and June 2005 the institutions included in his inquiry, used solitary confinement 2,329 times. Only five of the institutions gave information about the number of children segregated, which showed that 519 children had been placed in solitary confinement. Information from one Youth Facility revealed that solitary confinement was used 946 times.The number of self-harm incidents in prison segregation units as a result was a major concern.There were 117 incidents of self injury recorded by prisons (5 July 2004, Hansard, col 552W). Anne Owers (2003), the Chief Inspector of Prisons, has described solitary confinement as a prison within a prison. In her words solitary confinement has a pervasive effect on the entire prison population despite the fact that it usually only directly affects a small number of those living and working in a prison.

Dr Stuart Grassian,a board certified psychiatrist with extensive psychiatric experience in evaluating mental health issues,had this to say about the effects of solitary confinement.

‘Historically the USA had been the world leader in introducing prolonged (solitary) confinement…Their system was emulated in several European nations in the 19th Century. But in the end the incidence of mental disturbances and their severity caused the system to be abandoned.’

When Dr Grassian initially agreed to research solitary confinement in relation to a specific group of prisoners he was sceptical. The results of his evaluations soon assured him of the long term ‘deleterious’ damage inflicted on the prisoner by lengthy periods of time spent in isolation.

“As soon as I got in I started cutting my wrists. I figured it was the only way to get out of here”

-Prisoner A

Significantly, the prisoner who said this couldn’t recall the events of the several days that surrounded his wrist slashing. Nor could he describe his thoughts and feelings at the time.

Dr Grassian concluded that some of the psychological symptoms that arose as a result of time spent in solitary, occurred in no other type of psychiatric illness. Indeed some of these symptoms were present in severe early onset Schizophrenia.

The Howard League for Penal Reform has stated its opposition to solitary confinement as has the ACLU. The European Convention on Human Rights clearly opposes what has been defined as torture. Why then is this method of  retributive punishment being administered to children & adults in prison in this post-industrial and technologically sophisticated,world?