Watch­dog: Young and mi­nori­ties still don’t trust po­lice

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE - By Tom Py­man tpy­man@thek­m­ @tomPy­mankM

Mi­nor­ity groups and young peo­ple across Kent still don’t trust the po­lice to deal with com­plaints, a new watch­dog has claimed.

The In­de­pen­dent Of­fice for Po­lice Con­duct (IOPC) re­placed the In­de­pen­dent Po­lice Com­plaints Com­mis­sion (IPCC) last month, and has been handed new pow­ers in a bid to im­prove ac­count­abil­ity, in­clud­ing the ca­pac­ity to be­gin in­ves­ti­ga­tions them­selves with­out them be­ing re­ferred by in­di­vid­ual forces, as is cur­rently the case.

In Kent, the po­lice watch­dog (in both guises) has opened 15 in­ves­ti­ga­tions since last April – com­pared to eight through­out the whole of the pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial year – even though the num­ber of recorded com­plaints made was down by around 10% at 762. The county’s force is cur­rently the sixth high­est ranked na­tion­ally in terms of in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tions started this fi­nan­cial year.

Re­gional di­rec­tor for the South East Sarah Green said the IOPC was work­ing with mi­nor­ity groups to in­crease en­gage­ment and con­fi­dence in the force.

“The things com­plained about most are ne­glect or fail­ure of duty and in­ci­vil­ity, which is what we char­ac­terise as ‘rude and late’ – when you call the po­lice and they don’t come, then when they do come they’re not very nice to you,” she said.

“The most com­mon com­plain- ants are white men in their 40s and we know that other groups are less likely to com­plain for a num­ber of rea­sons, be­cause they have less con­fi­dence in the po­lice, for ex­am­ple black and mi­nor­ity eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties and young peo­ple.

“We’ve asked them about that and the rea­sons they’ve given are that they don’t trust the po­lice to deal with it. They think if they com­plain, ac­tion will be taken against them. They fear ha­rass­ment and don’t have any faith in the sys­tem that any­thing will be done as a re­sult of it.

“We’ve done a lot of work with forces about how they make that process as pain­less as pos­si­ble – are they putting in­for­ma­tion up in po­lice sta­tions? What’s their web­site like? Are there peo­ple good at re­spond­ing to com­plaints in a pos­i­tive way?

“It’s about rais­ing aware­ness but also mak­ing sure the force re­sponds pos­i­tively to those com­plaints when they do come in and doesn’t dis­miss them.”

‘We’ve done a lot of work with forces about how they make that process as pain­less as pos­si­ble’

Sarah Green, re­gional di­rec­tor of the In­de­pen­dant Of­fice for Po­lice Con­duct

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