Watchdog: Young and minorities still don’t trust police
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