The Independent Police Complaints Commission has just issued its latest national report on police complaints statistics, but claims the overall picture is inconsistent in the way that police forces handle complaints.
In Lincolnshire there were a total of 549 complaints, a three per cent decrease on the year before. The number of dissatisfied with how their complaint was handled has dropped to 78 – a 15 per cent decrease, according to the figures.
The statistics showed significant falls in complaints in some forces, and considerable increases in others.
Some forces choose to handle over 70 per cent of complaints through the informal local resolution process; whereas others prefer formal investigations. In Lincolnshire, 51 per cent of cases were investigated and 36 per cent were dealt with through the local resolution process.
Overall, forces uphold only 19 per cent of appeals against their own local investigations, whereas when such appeals come to the IPCC, 41 per cent are upheld. Lincolnshire upheld 20 per cent of its investigation appeals (8 out of 41).
IPCC chairman Dame Anne Owers said: “We know that the police complaints system is over-complex and over-bureaucratic, and that is part of the reason for the inconsistencies between forces.
“Forces can deal with complaints informally through local resolution, but if complaints are so serious that they could result in disciplinary action, they have to formally investigate them. Some forces choose local resolution in over 70 per cent of cases; others investigate over 70 per cent. It is very unlikely that the profile of cases among forces varies so widely; so this appears to be a postcode lottery.
“When complainants are dissatisfied with a local police investigation, they can appeal. Some of these appeals are dealt with by the force itself; others come to the IPCC. We have previously expressed concerns about forces marking their own homework. Overall, the IPCC is twice as likely to uphold an appeal as local forces. Ten forces never upheld an investigation appeal.
“We welcome the fact that the Policing and Crime Bill currently before Parliament responds to many of our concerns. It seeks to simplify the system and make it more accessible, and crucially provides independent review of all local police complaint investigations, through either Police and Crime Commissioners or the IPCC.”