Independent Police Complaints Commission
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Statistics reveal inconsistent handling of police complaints

There are wide inconsistencies in the way police complaints are handled the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said yesterday, after it published the national police complaints statistics

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.

In 2014/15, there was a 6% overall increase in the number of complaints made – more than 37,000 in all. At the same time, the total number of appeals made by dissatisfied complainants increased by 7%. The statistics also reveal marked inconsistencies in:

  • the proportion of complaints that are initially upheld in each force, ranging from 7% to 27%; and the proportion of investigation appeals each force upholds, ranging from none to two-thirds
  • whether forces investigate most complaints formally, or use more informal ‘local resolution’ processes: some forces investigate over 70% of complaints;  while others use local resolution in over 70% of cases
  • the success rate for complaints investigation appeals considered by the IPCC (39%) remains twice as high as when those appeals are heard by forces themselves (19%)
  • the length of time taken to resolve complaints – with averages ranging from 52 to 205 days.

Dame Anne Owers, Chair of the IPCC, said:

“These figures show a complaints system that is both over-complex and inconsistent, and 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.”

Chair Dame Anne Owers discusses the Police Complaints Statistics


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