The police watchdog was labelled ‘unfit for purpose’ yesterday by a former officer turned priest who was cleared after 11 years under investigation.
Andrew Birks, 44, was one of five policemen probed for misconduct over the custody death of Sean Rigg in Brixton, south London, in 2008.
The officers were referred to the IOPC, then known as the Independent Police Complaints Commission, but after two lengthy probes they were vindicated.
The police watchdog was labelled ‘unfit for purpose’ yesterday by a former officer turned priest, Andrew Birks, pictured above, who was cleared after 11 years under investigation
Mr Birks launched two judicial reviews to quit the Metropolitan Police and train for the priesthood while the investigations rumbled on.
However he was barred from leaving and was suspended on full pay from May 2014 until he was cleared in March last year.
Mr Birks, now assistant curate at St Barnabas’s Church in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, said: ‘I don’t think there is anybody that thinks the IOPC is fit for purpose in the current form.
‘Nearly everything the IOPC touches takes years to resolve. People think that if it has taken years then there must be something in it. But it hasn’t taken years because of the work, it is because of the incompetency of the investigation by the IOPC.
‘The IOPC are so incompetent because there is no skill base. If you were in the police and dealing with a death you would have the homicide team – you wouldn’t send in the shoplifting squad. Within the IOPC you are dealing with really serious offences which can be difficult – especially when the investigators have no speciality at all. The whole thing seems toy-townish.’
Andrew Birks, 44, left, was one of five policemen probed for misconduct over the custody death of Sean Rigg (right) in Brixton, south London, in 2008
He likened his case to Operation Midland, Scotland’s Yard shambolic VIP child sex abuse inquiry that also proved an embarrassment for the IOPC.
Writing in the Daily Mail in October, former High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques said the IOPC investigation was ‘lamentable and inadequate’.
In April 2018 another senior judge, Mr Justice Garnham, had said the IOPC was ‘grossly inefficient’ in its dealings with Mr Birks.
Mr Birks, who had always intended to become a priest following a spell with the police, said: ‘Sir Richard Henriques noticed the common denominators – the length of the time of investigations; that they were substandard and that those doing the investigations