‘Wide inconsistencies’ in handling of police complaints says commission

There are wide inconsistencies in the way police complaints are handled the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said today, after it published the national police complaints statistics.
Thames Valley Police logoThames Valley Police logo
Thames Valley Police logo

As the number of complaints made increases, there remain marked differences in the way police forces across England and Wales handle complaints - and there are more people dissatisfied with the way their complaint has been handled.

According to the report, in 2014/15, there were more than 37,000 complaints made, a six per cent overall increase on the year before. At the same time, the total number of appeals made by dissatisfied complainants increased by seven per cent.

In Thames Valley, there were 1,305 complaints in total, a 25% increase on the year before. The total number of appeals made by dissatisfied complainants was 266 – a 30% increase.

The statistics also reveal marked inconsistencies in:

• whether forces investigated most complaints formally, or used more informal ‘local resolution’ processes: some forces investigated over 70% of complaints; while others used local resolution in over 70% of cases

In Thames Valley, 53% of cases were investigated and 36% were dealt with through the local resolution process

• the proportion of complaints that were initially upheld in each force, ranging from 7% to 27%; and the proportion of investigation appeals each force upheld, ranged from none to two-thirds

Thames Valley Police upheld 13% of complaints and 22% of its investigation appeals

• the success rate for complaints investigation appeals considered by the IPCC (39%) remained twice as high as when those appeals were heard by forces themselves (19%)

The IPCC upheld 53% of appeals made about Thames Valley Police complaint investigations

• the length of time taken to resolve complaints – averages ranged from 52 to 205 days

On average, it took 110 days for Thames Valley Police to resolve a complaint.

Dame Anne Owers, Chair of the IPCC, said the statistics show that the complaints system is ‘both over-complex and inconsistent’.

She said: “It is clearly failing to satisfy a significant number of complainants.

“Chief Officers and Police and Crime Commissioners should look closely at the figures for their own forces to satisfy themselves that complainants are being treated fairly and well.

“However, the underlying problem is the system itself. We welcome the fact that the government proposes to bring in legislation to simplify and streamline a system that at present satisfies neither those who need it nor those who have to operate it.”

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