Met Police apologises over forces' David Carrick failure
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Several high-profile stories about misconduct have sent public confidence in the police to new lows. According to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, half of Brits no longer believe in the police’s ability to handle complaints fairly. Express.co.uk has compiled a definitive guide to all the latest Home Office data on police complaints. So how does your force fare?
In England and Wales, members of the public who feel they have been treated unfairly by the police are free to file a complaint. This can be done either directly to the force in question, or via the IOPC website.
An allegation of misconduct by an officer can be made if they are perceived to have breached the Standards of Professional Behaviour – the ten pillars of police conduct covering all areas from honesty and integrity to the use of force.
According to new Home Office data, in the year leading up to March 31 2022, 48,979 complaints towards police officers were finalised across all Professional Standards Departments (PSDs) in England and Wales.
An individual complaint often contains more than one allegation, of which there were 115,235 in total. If the allegations are credible or sufficiently serious, they are recorded under Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002. Just over three-quarters – 87,786 allegations – were dealt with in this way.
The Home Office data is broken down by area, the nature of the allegation, the type of worker to which they relate, and the disciplinary outcome. The combination paints a picture of tendencies in England and Wales.
The Metropolitan Police received more misconduct allegations than any other service in the country in the year to March 31, 2022, at 20,256. This result isn’t surprising given that the capital’s constabulary is the largest in the country.
When factoring in force size, 24.2 per cent of the country’s officers employed by the Met were the recipients of 17.6 per cent of total allegations.
Kent came next – 5,527 allegations being levelled against its officers – followed by Essex (5,375), Greater Manchester (4,851), and Hampshire (4,734).
Out of all the 43 police forces in England and Wales, the City of London (257), North Yorkshire (747) and Lincolnshire (884) registered the fewest misconduct allegations of all.
READ MORE: Four Met Police officers investigated after girl, 15, strip-searched
The IOPC compiles complaints data from all PSDs and categorises the allegations made by type.
Their breakdown shows issues with “Delivery of duties and service” account for the largest share of total allegations (40 per cent). Within that bracket, “Police action following contact” was the case for 18 per cent, while “General level of service” made up 13 per cent.
The next most common category was “Police powers, policies and procedures” (30.5 per cent) – including “Use of force” (11.9 per cent), “Power to arrest and detain” (4.7 per cent) and “Searches of premises and seizure of property” (3.8 per cent).
There were also notably 158 allegations of sexual assault during the year, as well as eight of sexual harassment. A Home Office spokesperson said: “The reputation of British policing has been severely damaged by recent high-profile events, and the public’s trust in our police has been shaken.
“The Home Secretary has made it clear there is no place in our police forces for those unfit to wear the uniform, and has launched a review into police dismissals to ensure that bureaucracy and the unnecessary process will not prevail over ethics and common sense.”
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The public can also make allegations against police staff – those assisting in the work of officers, involved in anything from call handling to administration and IT support.
There were 7,893 allegations about police staff over the course of the year, less than a tenth of the number of allegations levelled against officers.
Among officers, of all individuals subject to police complaint cases, 44,539 involved men (72.3 per cent) and 17,054 involved women (27.7 per cent). Among police staff, the allegation split pivots towards women 58.2 per cent to 41.8 per cent.
In terms of age group, 42 per cent of all allegations were made against police officers between the ages of 26 and 40.
Anna Birkley of Reclaim These Streets said: “These numbers are shocking – this isn’t a case of a few bad apples but a rotten institution that needs urgent and radical change if women are to be able to trust the police. Forces need to deal with these cases, as well as reviewing historic cases where misconduct was overlooked, and crucially they need to ask which senior officers knew rules had been broken and looked the other way.”
Of the 87,786 allegations made against police officers in the year to March 31, just 158 resulted in a referral to proceedings – less than 0.002 per cent.
The vast majority of behavioural shortcomings were found to either not require any action at all (89 per cent) or prompted a review or learning process (11 per cent).
Proceedings resulted in misconduct findings in 78 cases, while gross misconduct – a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour “so serious as to justify dismissal” – was found in 38 cases.
Of these, just nine actively serving police officers were dismissed. This means just over one in every ten thousand allegations lead to the officer in question being fired.
Sophie Khan, Director of Legal and Policy at the Police Action Centre told Express.co.uk: “The data show that the majority of police complaints are not upheld and no action is taken. In the current climate where trust in the police is in question, the decision not to uphold or to take action on the majority of police complaints also needs to be questioned. The latest statistics demonstrate that police complaints have not been taken seriously by the leadership of the police and further support the defensive culture in the police.”
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