The Independent Police Complaints Commission’s (IPCC) Deputy Chair, Deborah Glass announced today that it is disappointing that police forces were still declining to record so many complaints from the public – as a result of which the IPCC upheld sixty per cent of appeals against non-recording.
The IPCC’s Police Complaints Statistics for 2010/11 reveal that over 6000 people made an appeal to the IPCC because they were unhappy with the way their complaint had been handled by their local police force. Close to 1,200 of them appealed because the force had not recorded their complaints. The IPCC found in favour of the complainant in nearly sixty per cent of those cases, requiring local forces to reconsider the complaint in over 600 cases.
Deborah Glass said today:
"I’m disappointed to see a year-on-year increase in the number of people who have contacted us to say that their complaint was rejected by their local police force and it’s completely unacceptable that in six out of ten cases we’re finding this to be the case.
"Police forces are still failing to respond to far too many of the public’s complaints despite improvements made to the complaints system seven years ago in 2004 and additional guidance issued by us to forces back in May last year.
"This is not only of great frustration to the people who should have had their complaint recognised, accepted and dealt with properly at a local level, but it’s a waste of time and resources for everyone involved.”
During 2010/11, the IPCC agreed with 53 people that they had a case for a complaint against Greater Manchester Police. This force saw one of the highest numbers of upheld appeals by the IPCC. Likewise, Northumbria Police was also asked to record 53 complaints that they had previously rejected.
A similar picture can be seen by all 44 forces across the country but with some variation. The IPCC required West Yorkshire Police to look again at 49 complaints and West Midlands Police 39 complaints.
Another matter of concern for the IPCC is the length of time it takes police forces to handle public complaints.
Statistics reveal that across England and Wales it takes on average six months to deal with a complaint case. For less serious allegations, which can be dealt with by a local resolution process, the average time is three months – whilst those dealt with by a local investigation take on average seven months. The time taken to finalise complaints has increased by seven days on average by comparison with 2009/10.
There is a great deal of variation across forces with some handling complaints much faster than the average and others taking much longer.
Deborah Glass added:
"The police complaints system set up by Parliament in 2004 places the responsibility on the police to deal with the vast majority of complaints themselves – and the public have a right to expect that they will do so efficiently and effectively. These figures suggest notable levels of dissatisfaction. Forces have told us they want to improve the way they handle complaints yet there is little or no improvement shown in these figures. This is simply not good enough. We expect to see genuine endeavours by all forces to make improvements in the public interest.”
"We have, within the past year, launched a campaign to encourage the police to ‘get it right first time’. For many complaints this means recording them and dealing with them properly at a local level. So often it is about listening to people about where they feel the police service has failed them and providing an explanation or an apology where something has gone wrong.”
The report also revealed:
During 2010/11 public complaints against the police declined 4% from the previous year to 33,099 – the first reduction since reforms to the police complaints system were introduced in 2004/05.
The most common aspects of policing that people complained about remained the same as in previous years, with nearly 50% of allegations about neglect or failure in duty (27%) and incivility, impoliteness and intolerance (18%).
The public appealed to the IPCC because they were dissatisfied with how their local force had dealt with their complaint on 6,173 occasions and the IPCC upheld thirty per cent of those appeals.
- ENDS -
Notes to editors: For media enquiries, please contact the IPCC press office on 0207 166 3000
You can view the IPCC’s Police Complaints Statistics for 2010/11 on the IPCC annual police complaints statistics page.
© Independent Police Complaints Commission All Rights Reserved