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Complaints against Thames valley police officers have gone UP by almost a QUARTER in the last year
Heart's got hold of figures from the Independent Police Complaints Commission showing they dealt with one thousand - one hundred and sixty seven between 2009 and 2010, compared with 947 in the previous recording period.
That's up 220 on the year before - an increase of 23%.
A single complaint case can comprise a number of allegations. The total number of allegations contained within the complaints for Thames Valley was 2183, an increase of 15% on the previous year. The main allegations were about neglect or failure in duty and incivility - also known as ‘rude and late’.
IPCC Commissioner for the south east, Mike Franklin, said: "Thames Valley has seen a higher than usually rise in complaints against its officers and this is something that they need to look carefully at and understand the reasons why.
"Although it may at first glance seem to be bad news for the force, I believe that part of the reason for the increase in numbers of people complaining is improved access to and confidence in the complaints system. Prior to the introduction of the IPCC in 2004, the number of people complaining was falling and later research showed only 10% of people who felt like complaining actually did.
"Both the IPCC and the police are working hard to make sure members of the public who are not satisfied with the service they receive know how to feed that back to the police. I think the rise in complaints has a lot to do with those people who previously were not inclined to complain, now knowing that doing so is worthwhile.”
Nationally the figures show that last year 33,854 people complained about the police in England and Wales - an 8% increase on the previous year.
This year the IPCC has introduced a new set of ‘key indicators’, to help identify how well complaints are being handled. The figures include information about the length of time it takes for complaints to be recorded and how long different types of investigations take. This is initially a nationwide overview but later this year the information will also be published on the IPCC website about individual forces quarterly.
Mike Franklin continued: "We think it is important to make this information available to the public to encourage them to engage in informed dialogue with their local police service.”
Thames Valley Police gave Heart the following statement:
Deputy Chief Constable Francis Habgood said: "The publication of the IPCC report into police complaints annually gives police forces the opportunity to analyse figures about the number of complaints made against their officers and the nature of these complaints, as well as giving the general public reassurance that the officers who serve their community are accountable for their actions.
The rise in the number of complaints in 2009/2010 compared to the previous year show that more people are using the channels open to them to complain when they do not receive the service they expect from our staff. Thames Valley Police as a Force can not continue to improve the standard of service we provide to our communities if people do not let us know when they are unhappy.
Police officers are regularly placed in dangerous and highly stressful situations while keeping our communities safe. The challenge for these officers is to maintain the high standards of professionalism and service expected by members of the public while carrying out their duties. Reports of this nature allow us to look at what areas we are not delivering the service our communities expect and address any concerns this raises."