Po­lice han­dling of com­plaints ‘in­con­sis­tent’

Surrey Advertiser - - Front Page -

PO­LICE re­main ‘in­con­sis­tent’ in their ap­proach to han­dling com­plaints from the pub­lic partly due to a bu­reau­cratic and com­plex sys­tem, an in­de­pen­dent body has ruled.

The In­de­pen­dent Po­lice Com­plaints Com­mis­sion (IPCC) has pub­lished its sta­tis­tics for Eng­land and Wales for 2016/17.

Sur­rey Po­lice re­ceived 1,393 al­le­ga­tions in 2016/17, down from 1,581 the pre­vi­ous year. The force in­ves­ti­gated 546 of th­ese al­le­ga­tions, while 618 were re­solved through lo­cal res­o­lu­tion.

The num­ber of recorded com­plaints the force logged also de­creased in 2016/17, with 482 a 6% drop on the pre­vi­ous 12 months’ 515.

Of the com­plaints fi­nalised by Sur­rey Po­lice, 44% were in­ves­ti­gated by the force and 49% were dealt with through lo­cal res­o­lu­tion, where a su­per­vi­sor works with the com­plainant to re­solve a gen­er­ally less se­ri­ous is­sue.

Across Eng­land and Wales, the IPCC said it found a ‘great deal of vari­a­tion’ in both the num­ber of com­plaints and the way they were han­dled.

Dame Anne Ow­ers, chair­man of the IPCC, said: “The pub­lic needs to have a high level of con­fi­dence in the po­lice com­plaints sys­tem. If they com­plain about their lo­cal po­lice force they should be as­sured that it will be dealt with ro­bustly and fairly.

“The cur­rent sys­tem is ex­tremely com­plex and bu­reau­cratic and this has led to some of the in­con­sis­ten­cies we have recorded year on year.

“It is also not suf­fi­ciently in­de­pen­dent, since some dis­sat­is­fied com­plainants can only ap­peal to the force that re­jected their com­plaint in the first place.”

The IPCC recorded three main ar­eas of in­con­sis­tency.

Some forces try to ad­dress is­sues be­fore they are recorded as a for­mal com­plaint; some forces choose to for­mally in­ves­ti­gate most com­plaints while oth­ers use the less for­mal lo­cal res­o­lu­tion process; and with re­gards to up­hold­ing com­plaints, the IPCC up­holds four out of 10 ap­peals, but lo­cal forces up­hold fewer than two out of 10.

Dame Ow­ers said: “While some lo­cal vari­a­tion is un­avoid­able, it is clear that some forces need to look closely at their own per­for­mance and ap­proach, where it is clearly at odds with the norm.

“It is wel­come that some forces have done this dur­ing last year, some­times with the as­sis­tance of our own over­sight team.”

The IPCC said there will be sig­nif­i­cant changes to the po­lice com­plaints sys­tem in 2018, in­clud­ing a greater role for po­lice and crime com­mis­sion­ers, who will de­cide on ap­peals that do not go to the IPCC.

“The new sys­tem will be sim­pler and more flex­i­ble and will also pro­vide an in­de­pen­dent ap­peal right for ev­ery­one, ei­ther to the IPCC or to a po­lice and crime com­mis­sioner.

“This is wel­come, but we will still need to en­sure that com­plainants through­out the coun­try can be as­sured that their com­plaints will be han­dled ap­pro­pri­ately and thor­oughly.”

To make a com­plaint to Sur­rey Po­lice, email psd@ sur­rey.pnn.po­lice.uk, call 101 or write to the Pro­fes­sional Stan­dards Depart­ment, Sur­rey Po­lice, PO Box 101, Guild­ford, Sur­rey GU1 9PE.

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