The Independent Police Complaints Commission have today announced the results of their investigation into concerns I raised last year about expenses claims submitted by Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw in his former roles as a member of Lancashire County Council and Lancashire Police Authority. You can see Mr Grunshaw's response here.
The IPCC has decided to refer the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The decision is based on an investigator's report and, while the law requires that the report be published, the IPCC are allowed to delay publication for a variety of reasons, including such things as the need to prevent disclosure of information relevant to prospective criminal proceedings.
As the person who discovered and reported these issues to the authorities I have provided a witness statement to the investigation and I am a potential witness in any resulting criminal proceedings. Therefore, at the moment, for legal reasons, I will not be commenting in public in any detail on the evidence in the case, which is the stance I have taken since the IPCC's investigation began.
Mr Grunshaw, however, is not restricted in that way. It is now 9 months since these issues became public, and there is a risk that public confidence in the governance of policing could be damaged. His post is all about giving the public that confidence, and he says today that he has complied fully with the investigative process. He could go further and let the people of Lancashire in on everything he has told the investigators. He could publish the receipts for the expenses claims that are under scrutiny. If he wants to do his job and maintain public confidence in the governance of policing then he surely needs to go beyond bland assurances that he never meant to do anything wrong and give us some facts. One day the investigator's report will be published, and we will see what it says, so what has Mr Grunshaw got to lose? In the meantime he needs to look more like a Police Commissioner, and less like a defendant.
I remain happy to explain the process and legislation. For clarity, readers should appreciate that the IPCC's role investigating Police and Crime Commissioners is new and their decision is the first such decision governed by a new law.
Under The Elected Local Policing Bodies (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012, (s.26) for the referral to be made, the IPCC has had to conclude that both the following conditions have been satisfied :-
1. that the report from their investigator indicates that a criminal offence may have been committed by the relevant office holder.
2. that the circumstances are such that, in the opinion of the Commission, it is appropriate for the matters dealt with in the report to be considered by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The Director of Public Prosecutions will now decide whether to bring any criminal charges against Commissioner Grunshaw and, if so, which charges to bring.
In the meantime I would like to thank the officers of the Independent Police Complaints Commission for giving so much of their time and energy to investigating these serious matters. I look forward to further news from the Crown Prosecution Service, and to reading the IPCC investigator's report when it is eventually published.
Leaving aside the fact that the IPCC has taken in excess of 9 months to check a set of expenses, it is almost (but of course, not quite) irrelevant whether Mr Grunshaw’s expenses ‘mistakes’ were made for personal gain or by accident. Surely if someone cannot control their own personal expenditure, then the question must be raised as to whether they are sufficiently financially competent to control a multi million pound County Policing budget in the first place.