Page last updated at 05:46 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 06:46 UK

Rise in complaints against police

The IPCC received 28,963 police complaints in the last financial year

Dyfed-Powys Police has recorded the second highest percentage increase in England and Wales for the number of public complaints received against it.

The force saw a 53% rise in complaints from 2006/7 to 2007/8 which in real terms saw complaints rise from 188 to 287 across the period.

The nation's Gwent, North Wales and South Wales forces saw respective 14%, 9% and 12% increases.

Dyfed-Powys said it welcomed complaints and expected to be held to account.

Each year a number of complaints are made by members of the public about the conduct of serving police officers and these are handed on to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) at the end of each financial year.

The allegations range in gravity from impoliteness through to allegations of assault against officers and are compiled by the IPCC in its annual Police Complaints report.

For the year ending 31 March 2008 the organisation recorded 28,963 complaints against English and Welsh forces representing virtually no change on the previous year's figures.

It is fair to say that most police officers and staff do their best to provide the highest quality of service in what sometimes can be very difficult and challenging circumstances
Dyfed-Powys Police

Of these cases, 63% were completed with the remaining 37% classed ongoing with a majority of a majority of forces, 24 out of 43, seeing a decrease in the number of complaints recorded recorded against them.

The biggest increase in the number of complaints was seen by Sussex Police which saw an 81% increase working out to a 346 rise in the actual number of complaints.

The IPCC has been handed the task of increasing public confidence in the complaint systems by aiming to make investigations more open, timely, proportionate and fair.

In a statement Dyfed-Powys Police pointed to this as a reason behind the increase in the number of complaints against it saying the rise was evidence of public confidence in the complaints system.

It outlined that when put in context the rise in numbers worked out to being just short of an additional two cases per week and that the average number of allegations attached to each case was 1.7 which was consistent with the national average.

It also pointed out that as a region it handled around 200,000 calls for assistance each year and that the total number of complaint allegations against it totalled 507.

'Police confidence'

"Such increases are acknowledged as a potential indication of public confidence in the complaints system in that the public are confident that when reporting allegations of wrongdoing by police officers and staff, they will be recorded and dealt with appropriately," explained the force.

"It is fair to say that most police officers and staff do their best to provide the highest quality of service in what sometimes can be very difficult and challenging circumstances. Inevitably there will be occasions where we do not always get it right.

"We welcome comments and complaints from members of the public, and as a public service we expect to be held to account. We endeavour to learn lessons from cases whether this be on an individual or organisational basis."

The Gwent and South Wales forces responded in similar fashion outlining their own beliefs that the rise in complaints was a reflection of the increased public confidence in the police complaints system.

IPCC chair Nick Hardwick added: "Clearly the public continues to feel greater confidence in the complaints process."


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