Complaints and allegations against police in Lincolnshire have spiked with new watchdog figures revealing a countrywide decrease in public confidence.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) annual police complaints statistics for England and Wales in 2014/15 indicated more and more people are dissatisfied with the conduct of their local police forces.
The number of complaints made against the Lincolnshire Police force in the year 2014/15 was 567, an 11% rise on the previous year’s figure of 510.
Nationally, the number of complaints against police forces across the country has risen from 16,654 in 2001/02 to 37,105 in the year 2014/15.
When it comes to legal allegations made against the Lincolnshire force, the number has risen from 728 to 1,060 in the last year – a 46% rise.
A total of 69,571 allegations against police forces were made across the country. They included malpractice, breaches of codes, discrimination and other neglects of duty.
Shockingly, the report also reveals that 150 sexual assault allegations and 405 serious non-sexual assault claims were lodged against police.
Some 59% of the allegations made against Lincolnshire Police were investigated with 9% ending in withdrawal, 2% in ‘dissapplication’ and 31% ending in ‘local resolution’.
Just 87 (15%) of the allegations investigated by Lincolnshire Police were upheld.
The report also recognised that Lincolnshire Police took less time to record and deal with complaints than the national and most similar force average.
The county force is putting the increase down to improvements in transparency of the complaints system in Lincolnshire.
“Increase is a positive sign”
Superintendent David Wood, from the Force’s Professional Standards Department, said: “Lincolnshire Police welcome the report published today by the IPCC, who have recognised that the current complaints system is over complex and difficult for complainants to understand and access.
“Lincolnshire Police are committed to providing a professional, effective and efficient service to the communities it serves. It is therefore always disappointing when somebody is dissatisfied with the way they have been treated or the service the service they have received.
“We take complaints very seriously and will always listen to, and take time to establish, exactly what the complaint is about and what the complainant would regard as a satisfactory outcome.
“Complaints also provide an opportunity to ascertain whether there is any individual or organisational learning for the force arising from the incident itself or the way it was handled.
“Given the complexities of the complaints system, I believe that the increase is a positive sign for the force.
“It demonstrates that the public are able to access the complaints system through a number of channels: by phone, on line, email, letter and in person, often a simpler process than in some other forces.
“Furthermore, it shows that the public of Lincolnshire expect high standards from their officers, have confidence in the system, and trust that by making us aware of their dissatisfaction, we will look into it and resolve it.
“We have recently been inspected by the HMIC, who praised Lincolnshire Police for the overall standard of complaint investigations completed by the force. They also recognised that the complaints procedures demonstrated our commitment to resolving complaints to the satisfaction of the complainant.
“Although we believe this is a positive report for Lincolnshire we are committed improving how we handle complaints.
“The IPCC report provides an opportunity to consider its figures and commentary with our Police and Crime Commissioner to see if further action is required.”
Dame Anne Owers, Chair of the IPCC, said: “These figures show a complaints system that is both over-complex and inconsistent, and is clearly failing to satisfy a significant number of complainants.
“Chief Officers and Police and Crime Commissioners should look closely at the figures for their own forces to satisfy themselves that complainants are being treated fairly and well.
“However, the underlying problem is the system itself. We welcome the fact that the government proposes to bring in legislation to simplify and streamline a system that at present satisfies neither those who need it nor those who have to operate it.”