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PIP: we have to respond to experts' findings

Officers in Post Incident Procedure (PIP) situations are often being required to give their account of what happened "too soon" without allowing the brain sufficient time and rest to process, according to a neuropsychology expert.

Dr Jess Miller was talking at a two-day PIP seminar organised by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) and led by its firearms lead Che Donald.

"Dr Miller explained that understanding of how a brain works after a critical or traumatic incident has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years and I think we have to adapt to any new findings to ensure that officers are supported and protected accordingly," says Tiff Lynch, Leicestershire Police Federation chairman.

Tiff attended the seminar with Leicestershire Police Federation secretary Matt Robinson as well as colleagues from the Force's PSD and legal team and post incident managers which the Federation branch invited to the seminar as stakeholders in the PIP process.

"It became clear during the seminar that there is a need for forces to fully invest in awareness training in this area," says Matt, "At present limited post incident training is given and it was also clear that sometimes expectations placed on key police witnesses are too high. We must work to create a process where best evidence is achieved without leaving our officers vulnerable."

Issues discussed during the event included how to get the most out of the post-incident brain, trauma, spatial processing and genetics, body-worn video and post incident management.

In response to feedback from last year's event, the 200 delegates were faced with PIP scenarios by Dave Blocksidge of Mind Your Evidence, an independent organisation which looks at expert witness testimony and memory training solutions. Dave also delivered a session on body-worn video and recall.

During the seminar which was held in Staffordshire, DCC Simon Chesterman, firearms lead for the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), spoke via video to stress that deaths involving firearms officers are "thankfully extremely rare" but when they happen it is essential that police follow established Authorised Professional Practice (APP) to protect themselves.

He said that it should not always be necessary to separate officers in a PIP situation, particularly with the advent of body-worn video creating a record.

Delegates were told that the number of road fatalities involving police contact stood at 32 in the last year, and deaths in custody at 55, far in excess of six firearms fatalities - yet there is no APP for custody or roads policing.

Tim Godwin, representing the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), gave an assurance that the watchdog is making efforts to speed up its investigations and invited challenge if it appears to falter.

He discussed the forthcoming IPCC restructure and best PIP practice, adding: "When we talk about separation of officers in a post incident situation we don't mean isolation - they should have access to a Federation rep and support - this is purely to maintain integrity."

Other speakers included:

  • Gill Scott-Moore of the Police Dependants' Trust
  • Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Mead and Temporary Chief Inspector Julia Hands from Cambridgeshire Constabulary who gave a detailed account of their role as Post Incident Managers after a fatal shooting.

Che Donald said the seminar was vitally important to help aid understanding of the issues at hand.

He explained: "The seminar is not just about firearms - it is much wider than that and the importance of the PIPs process affects not only firearms officers but all officers involved in the world of operational policing as well as the custody arena, where there are deaths and serious injuries."