Watchdog sees a rise in police complaints

Police officers on patrol in Portsmouth
Police officers on patrol in Portsmouth
A Ford Transit van

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COMPLAINTS against the police have risen this year by 26 per cent, according to figures released today.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has released its annual analysis of complaints recorded against Hampshire Constabulary.

It shows there were 819 complaints lodged against the force in 2011/12 compared to 648 last year.

And within those 819 complaints there were 1,651 allegations of misconduct, against 1,697 the year before.

Where Hampshire police dealt with complaints itself but the complainant appealed to the IPCC, only 29 per cent of appeals were upheld.

Detective Superintendent Colin Smith is the head of Hampshire police’s professional standards department.

He says the figures seem steep because there was a 43 per cent drop in complaints the previous year – from 1,137 in 2009/10 to 648 last year. There were 2,249 allegations in 2009/10.

He said: ‘Our priority is to provide an excellent service to the communities we serve and the complaints procedure is an important part of that.

‘I would encourage anyone who is dissatisfied with our service to speak to us directly and raise their concerns.

‘The increase in the number of complaints this year comes following a 43 per cent drop in the previous year which balances out our position.

‘Our focus is to listen to what you have to say and investigate with a view to putting things right as soon as possible. Where we’ve made a mistake, we will apologise and work to reassure the individual we’re doing everything we can to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

‘It is important for us all complaints are fairly and accurately recorded and effectively resolved so I’m pleased to see the vast majority of appeals to the IPCC are not upheld which demonstrates our commitment to getting it right first time.’

Of the complaints received by Hampshire Constabulary, 83 per cent of them were recorded within 10 working days.

Neighbouring Sussex Police saw a drop in the number of complaints recorded last year of five per cent.

A total of 706 complaints were made against the force in 2011/2012 compared to 745 the year before.