Page last updated at 08:03 GMT, Thursday, 24 September 2009 09:03 UK

Record high for police complaints

Police complaints graphic

The number of complaints against police in Wales has risen, with allegations against officers in one force up 50%.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) says 2,837 claims were made against officers from the four Welsh forces in 2008/09.

But under one in 10 investigations into complaints was substantiated.

South Wales Police saw a 50% increase in allegations against officers, but said it had the 11th lowest number of complaints in Wales and England.

Complaints against the police across Wales and England rose by 8%, with 31,259 - up 2,296 on the past year.

North Wales Police and Dyfed-Powys Police also saw increases in allegations against officers, up 35% and 34% respectively.

But the fourth Welsh force, Gwent Police, saw a smaller rise, up 4%. The IPCC report relates to forces across Wales and England, and a total of more than 31,000 individuals made a complaint about the conduct of people working for the police during the 2008/2009 period, up 6% on the previous year.

A fifth of all the complaints the commission received related to what it describes as "incivility, impoliteness, and intolerance".

A further quarter of the complaints came under the umbrella of "oppressive behaviour" by the police.

The watchdog said that it had seen an average 8% increase in the number of complaint cases taken up against the forces, but one force in Wales saw a drop.

WELSH POLICE COMPLAINTS
Police vehicle

COMPLAINT CASES:

Dyfed-Powys Police: 286 (+ 0%)
Gwent: 264 (down 16%)
North Wales: 390 (up 22%)
South Wales: 774 (up 13%)

ALLEGATIONS AGAINST OFFICERS

Dyfed-Powys: 667 ( up 34%)
Gwent: 497 (up 4%)
North Wales: 663 (up 35%)
South Wales: 1,010 (up 50%)

Source: IPCC report, 2008/09

The number of complaint cases against Gwent Police fell by 16% to 264, while North Wales Police saw a 22% jump, to 390 cases.

However, the IPCC highlighted the work of North Wales Police to resolve disputes locally. South Wales Police Chief Supt Tim Jones said the report "enhances our understanding of the patterns and trends of complaints" and provided "a benchmark of our performance against other police forces".

"We are closely analysing the trends which have emerged from the 13% increase in complaints so that we have a clear understanding of the issues that the public are unhappy with and we can take steps to address them," he said.

"This overall increase in complaints is a national trend which like many other similar areas reflects an increased confidence that the public have in the complaints system.

Mr Jones said it was encouraging that of 43 forces in Wales and England, South Wales Police had the 11th lowest number of complaints.

Tom Davies, the IPCC commissioner for Wales, said: "A member of the public is often looking for an apology for poor service or rudeness, rather than a long drawn-out investigation.

'Public confidence'

"We encourage forces to deal with complaints by local resolution because it more often leads to an outcome the public are happy with. An added bonus is that sometimes this frees up police resources.

"While the overall number of complaints over the last year for the force has risen faster than the average we believe this reflects improved reporting standards and demonstrates that the public have confidence in the complaints system."

The latest IPCC report follows comments in August by Mr Davies raising the issue of how Welsh forces dealt with reports of emergency calls and domestic violence.

He spoke as the watchdog was asked to examine five deaths across Wales in the space of a few weeks.

Mr Davies described domestic violence as a "very, very major issue" with two calls a minute reporting incidents being made to police across the UK every day of the year.

Stressing his comments were not linked to the five active cases, he said he wanted to ensure it was not a sign that procedures needed to be tightened up.



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