Operation Elveden is the Scotland Yard enquiry into the investigation into allegations of inappropriate payments to police and is overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
Operation Elevden is led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, CBE, QPM, who is also leading Operation Weeting & Operation Tuleta. The Metropolitan Police service’s Directorate of Professional Standards is also involved in Op Elveden.
The IPCC was born out of the Lord Scarman’s inquiry into the Brixton riots in 1981 and the Stephen Lawrence inquiry in 1999, which heralded the call for the establishment of an independent body. In April 2000, the human rights organisation, Liberty, issued a study called “An Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Partly in response to these calls, in May 2000 the government carried out a consultation on a new complaints system. It produced a briefing note called, ‘Feasibility of an Independent System for Investigating Complaints Against the Police’. These consultations culminated in the Police Reform Act 2002, which established the IPCC. The IPCC became operational in April 2004.
The IPCC has been in the forefront of most major enquiries into serious allegations against Police, as it also deals equally with allegations made against the National Crime Agency and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
Its effects on a police officers career can be dramatic and draconian. Whilst, there is no support for those who have done wrong, abused the trust placed in them by the public they serve and the colleagues with whom they work; there are questions being asked about the modus operandi of such investigations and the results they may or may not produce.
Many of these questions relate to the manner in which the IPCC and, indeed, “The Job” itself, responds to those officers who have been investigated and found to be innocent of all allegations made against them.
More often than not, these officers receive no apology, there standing is not restored, nor is there any recompense for the manner in which the officers and their families have been treated.
An excellent case in point is Frank Armstrong, a recently retired Assistant Commissioner of the City of London Police. Frank, 54, who had just retired was arrested in March 2013 when police raided his home at 07:00 following allegations that accused him of passing “unauthorised information to a journalist”.
Frank had completed an unblemished career, which included long service in one of the most elite and confidential units of the Police, was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in recognition of his service and had been the former head of the protection detail for Tony Blair. Despite the allegation, there was never any suggestion that money had changed hands between Frank and the unidentified members of the press.
Frank was released from Bail in November 2013, but told he was still under investigation, which continued for another 18 months. The outcome of this investigation, which took over two years and resulted in the IPCC withdrawing the file before charging decisions were made, concluded that there was a lack of evidence.
Frank has commented that he understands the need to investigate leaks and acknowledged that the IPCC has a difficult job to do. He questioned the need to initially arrest him and to undertake the arrest at 07:00. This being more the process intended to frustrate career criminals at the outset of the investigation.
The effect of this failed inquiry resulted in Frank loosing a non-executive position with a security company and his inability to work thereafter. He has also not been asked to attend the Palace to collect his QPM.
Mark Spragg, an expert on arrest law at Keystone Law, commented that Frank’s arrest was very heavy-handed and probably unlawful.
Two years and two months worth of investigation for a unit of supposedly competent detectives, led by an experienced Deputy Assistant Commissioner and supported by the Directorate of Professional Standards, to complete an investigation which dies on its hunkers, is a matter that requires a detailed review to see what has occurred. Notwithtanding the astronomical cost this must have been to a police force under the cosh to save millions from its budgets.
The cost of this inquiry will have been substantial and has achieved nothing. It is understood that the baying hordes of the left wing, which played an integral part in the creation of the IPCC, have not flooded to Frank’s assistance during this period. Which of course, comes as no surprise.
Investigations should be conducted into all allegations of crime, but let those so engaged, make the right decision as to whether there is a case to answer, rather than ploughing on and getting no where.
Conversely, those who are cast into this legal meat grinder and churned out, battered but unbowed, should have the same resources applied to a return to their original position, as those resources applied to initiate their downfall.