Page last updated at 09:08 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 10:08 UK

Allegations against police rise

Police officers
Allegations may have risen against the police - but complaints remained stable

A record number of allegations were made against the police in England and Wales last year, says the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Figures show there were 48,280 claims in 2007/08 - an increase of 5% on the previous year.

However the number of complaints - which can be made up of more than one allegation - has remained stable.

The Home Office says allegations have risen because people are becoming more aware of their rights.

Just under half of all allegations are either proved or resolved locally, through an apology or some other resolution.

The IPCC says they received the highest number of allegations since complaints began to be investigated independently in 1985.

Stop-and-search

Almost a quarter of the allegations were categorised as "other neglect or failure in duty".

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil liberties group Liberty on police complaint figures

Allegations of "incivility, impoliteness and intolerance" accounted for more than one in five of the total number.

There was a sharp rise in claims relating to the use of stop-and-search - up from 434 in 2006/07 to 536 this year. Allegations of corruption rose from 236 to 290.

The police force recording the biggest percentage increase in allegations against officers was Sussex, which saw a rise of 91%.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: "We believe there are largely technical reasons for the large increase in Sussex during 2007-08.

"However we are not complacent and we and Sussex Police Authority continue to examine the data closely in order to draw lessons from it so that we can continue to develop and improve the policing service we deliver."

Northamptonshire Police recorded the biggest fall, with 32% fewer allegations received.

The IPCC said the number of complaints - which may consist more than one allegation - has stabilised.

Alienation

Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, said the rise in complaints over the use of stop-and-search were particularly worrying.


We say the increase in allegations is positive thing because it points to... more confidence in the system

Home Office spokeswoman

She told BBC News: "Yes, stop-and-search has a role, but it ought to be a rapier, not a bludgeon.

"Let's not have indiscriminate stop and searching on the streets of this country."

Ms Chakrabarti said stop-and-search powers should be focused on potentially high-risk situations, such as after a spate of stabbings, but should not be deployed as a blanket approach.

To do so, she said, would be a return to the infamous "Sus" laws that alienated many young men.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We welcome the publication of the IPCC figures and we note that there has been no change in the number of complaints.

"We say the increase in allegations is positive thing because it points to a greater public awareness of people' rights and more confidence in the system."

The Home Office said 32% of allegations against the police are investigated, of which only 11% are being proved - and that number is not rising.


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