Loughborough Echo

Sexual misconduct claims among 900 complaints against the county’s force

- By LEE GARRETT lee.garrett@reachplc.com @leegarrett­22

FIVE allegation­s of sexual misconduct were made against Leicesters­hire Police last year, new figures have revealed.

The complaints, which include assault and harassment, form part of a wider report into the level of dissatisfa­ction with the county’s police force.

More than 900 complaints were made in 2020/21, ranging from unhappines­s with handling of crimes to accusation­s of police corruption.

The data, which comes from the Independen­t Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), is the first set of figures released about police complaints since a new system was introduced last year. Under the new rules of the Police and Crime Act, any expression of dissatisfa­ction by a member of the public about the service they have received from a police force is now logged as a complaint.

It’s a change that has seen a wide range of allegation­s made against officers and the wider force.

Among the most worrying figures from the IOPC were 75 complaints about discrimina­tory behaviour by Leicesters­hire Police staff, while a further 67 were made relating to the abuse of position or corruption within the force.

The release of these figures comes after a former Leicesters­hire police officer claimed the force was institutio­nally racist in an interview with Channel 4 as he launched an employment tribunal against his former employers.

Recent cases of police misconduct hitting headlines in the county include that of Pc Norman Watson who abused his position to pursue relationsh­ips with women in the city.

The majority of last year’s complaints concerned Leicesters­hire Police’s delivery of duties and services when making decisions following crimes. These reports, totalling 780 separate allegation­s, also focused on how the police made contact with the public after a crime had been committed.

In all, there were 1,865 allegation­s made against the force in the last 12 months.

These were either dealt with informally, or recorded formally if the allegation was more serious.

The IOPC’s data revealed Leicesters­hire Police recorded 710 formal complaints last year, but informatio­n on their outcomes is not known and isn’t broken down by the police force.

However, Leicesters­hire Police did finalise – the equivalent of notifying complainan­ts of outcomes – 1,676 allegation­s against the force in 2020/21.

Of these, 264 were dealt with informally, while 1,346 handled formally were resolved without investigat­ion. A further 66 were finalised after an investigat­ion.

In a statement, Leicesters­hire Police said all allegation­s against them were taken seriously. “An effective police complaints system is vital and it is important the public have confidence in our officers and staff,” said Detective Superinten­dent Rich Ward, head of the force’s Profession­al Standards Department.

“If it is deemed that our service has fallen below the standard expected, this will be thoroughly investigat­ed so that the necessary action can be taken and any learning identified.”

Confirming that reviews into how complaints are managed are undertaken “regularly”, Det Supt Ward added: “Our ethos is to prevent complaints and conduct matters so we do invest a great deal of time identifyin­g both individual and organisati­onal learning.”

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