§ Dr. Godman
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when she will lay before Parliament the 1996 annual report of the Independent Commission for Police Complaints for Northern Ireland; and if she will make a statement. 362W
§ Dr. Mowlam
The 1996 Annual Report of the Independent Commission for Police Complaints is being laid before Parliament today.
The Report, which follows the format of previous years, comments on the work of the Commission in 1996. It includes an introduction from the then Chairman, James Grew, and chapters on the supervision of investigation of complaints against the police and on the Commission's role in disciplinary procedures arising from those complaints. It also has the usual statistical and financial sections.
Following 1995's reduction in the number of complaints, by 12 per cent. from the 1994 level, there was an increase of 9 per cent. in 1996. The Report states that a good deal of this increase arose from complaints made about public order policing last summer. The overall number of complaints, however, at 2,545, is similar to that seen in the early 1990s. The Commission supervised 390 cases, the highest number since its creation. The number and proportion of complaints informally resolved continue to rise, with 22.3 per cent. in 1996 compared to 18.3 per cent., 15.7 per cent. and 10 per cent. in the previous three years. The number of cases arising from the holding centres, 85, was the lowest figure since the creation of the Commission.
I should like to thank the Members and staff of the Commission for supervising a greater number of cases than ever before, and to encourage them to keep up their excellent work. In addition, I think it appropriate to record my thanks to Jim Grew for his service to the ICPC over almost a decade. His contribution has been outstanding and I am grateful to him. I wish his successor, Paul Donnelly, who has written an insert to the Report, on the way ahead on police complaints following Dr. Hayes' review of the complaints system, every success. His first challenge will be in seeing the Commission through the changes that will result from Dr. Hayes' proposals. I look forward to working in partnership with Paul Donnelly and the other bodies directly affected by the proposals in taking forward these important changes.