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Cheshire Chief Inspector says that PIP process 'can be trusted'

Post Incident Manager Ch Insp John Forshaw told the Cheshire Federation magazine that officers are now afforded 'a much higher level of legal protection and welfare support'.

Cheshire Chief Inspector John Forshaw has lauded the improvements made to Post Incident Procedures (PIP), arguing that the process now treats officers as witnesses rather than suspects.

One of nine accredited Post Incident Managers (PIMs) in the force, Ch Insp Forshaw took up the post in 2016 after his own experience of being investigated attracted him to the role.

He said: "I was investigated in 2005 as a result of an incident where there was a death after police contact, so I’ve been on the receiving end of investigations.

"Post Incident Procedures as they are now didn’t exist then. I had my clothing seized and I wasn’t afforded the opportunity to speak to a Federation Rep or solicitor before I provided an account. So as a police officer, I had very little protection."

The landscape today couldn't be more different, he says, with the process now designed to "get the best account from the officer as a witness".

Those involved are entitled to legal advice before making any statements, while Cheshire has six trained PIP officers who are also on hand.

Pivotal to this shift was the introduction of a new Death or Serious Injury APP, which was launched by the College of Policing in 2020 following Federation pressure.

This means that officers involved in deaths or serious injuries are now given protection at the same level as those connected with firearm incidents, which are covered by a separate APP.

According to Ch Insp Forshaw, the upshot is that there is a "much wider awareness" of PIP than ever before.

“The process balances the welfare of the officers who are key police witnesses, but also the facilitation of an open and transparent investigation that will get the best information from those witnesses, that will stand up to scrutiny in the future," he said.

With 'principle officer' previously used to refer to those involved in such investigations, Ch Insp Forshaw highlighted the change in terminology to emphasise officers' witness status.

While clear that this process won't "hide the truth or make bad things go away", he argues that this current iteration works to better protect officers while the circumstances are being established.

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