West Mercia Police responds to complaints figure

A police force which revealed 117 officers received at least three complaints in a year has questioned comparing statistics with other forces.

Figures obtained by the BBC show some 2,000 UK officers were subject to three or more complaints from the public.

West Mercia had the fifth highest number of officers with three or more allegations against them.

It said to compare the statistics of different forces' complaints procedures in this way "is deeply flawed".

'Drawing conclusions'

Speaking in response to the UK figures, the Police Federation, which represents 140,000 officers in England and Wales, said many cases were unsubstantiated.

Statistics from 43 out of 52 UK forces show there were a total of 5,069 allegations against officers in 2009-10.

The figures obtained from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the BBC show 2,073 officers had three or more complaints against them.

In a statement, West Mercia Police said while it flagged up 117 officers for receiving at least three complaints, "it was only felt necessary to put five officers on a formal review".

'Own way'

It said: "When West Mercia Police was contacted by the researcher who put this table together, part of our response to the FoI request included guidance that the figures would not be comparable between forces and that care needs to be taken when drawing conclusions from the results.

"Every force has an informal procedure to assess officers who have received multiple complaints against them to make sure officers' behaviour is up to the standards expected of them.

"However, every force has its own way of assessing these and to make a comparison of the figures supplied by forces in response to these requests in misleading."

The force with the most officers with three or more allegations against them, regardless of the size of the force, was the Police Service of Northern Ireland with 376.

The London's Metropolitan Police was second with 273 officers, from a total of 1,719 allegations, followed by Greater Manchester with 160, Kent with 130 and West Mercia with 117.

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