More appeals over police complaints handling, says IPCC

Police tape at a crime scene Overall the number of complaints against police forces fell for the second year running

There has been a rise in the number of people unhappy with how police in England and Wales handled complaints.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission received a record 6,339 appeals over complaints in 2011-12.

Some 38% of these appeals were upheld by the IPCC - up from 30% or less in the three preceding years.

The IPCC figures show that overall number of complaints against police forces fell for the second year running to just over 30,000.

In its annual round-up of complaints, the IPCC warned against reading too much into the total number because a lower figure could indicate that people did not have the confidence to complain in the first place.

It said that police forces upheld an average of one in every eight complaints.

Concerned

The 6,339 appeals to the watchdog in 2011-12 represented a 3% rise on the previous year.

More than half of appeals against two forces, Northumbria and North Wales, were upheld.

The watchdog said there was a wide variation between forces, with three upholding more than one in five complaints and seven upholding fewer than one in 10.

Start Quote

We need the public to continue to come forward when they consider the service has fallen short”

End Quote Chief Constable Mike Cunningham Association of Chief Police Officers

There were 1,374 appeals to the IPCC over forces' decisions not to record a complaint, up 16%, with the watchdog upholding almost two-thirds of these and telling police to revisit the complaint.

Eight forces were told to look again at complaints in 75% or more cases: Bedfordshire; City of London; Cumbria; Dorset; Northumbria; Nottinghamshire; Warwickshire; and West Yorkshire.

Dame Anne Owers, chairwoman of the IPCC, said she was concerned by the figures.

"All chief constables should take a personal interest in the findings of this report and assure themselves that they and their staff are meeting their obligations to record and resolve valid complaints from the public," she said.

"In particular, they should look closely at the number and type of appeals upheld by the IPCC."

Chief Constable Mike Cunningham, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: "Policing by its very nature is public-facing and as such ensuring that our interactions meet with the standard expected is critical to maintaining public confidence.

"This report shows that the service can continue to improve, particularly in the initial recording of complaints to ensure that the system reflects the seriousness and value that police attach to the complaints process.

"The police service cannot continue to improve without feedback and we need the public to continue to come forward when they consider the service has fallen short."

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