Complaints made against county police rise by 25%

Complaints made against Herts Police have risen by a quarter in the last year, latest figures show.

A report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, published today, revealed a total of 541 complaints were made against Herts Police during the year to 2014.

The figure represents a rise of 25% on the previous year, when complaints totalled 433.

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In 2011-12, the number of complaints to the county constabulary was just 326.

The figures pale in comparison to the neighbouring Thames Valley force, which received 1,043 complaints during 2013-14.

However, the much larger area saw an increase of only 9% on the previous year, when it received 954.

Nearby Bedfordshire Police saw the biggest percentage rise in the latest figures, with complaints up by 29% at 353 in 2013-14, against 273 in 2012-13.

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The complaints were made by members of the public about the conduct of police, and are recorded by the relevant force in the first instance.

Throughout the 44 police forces across England and Wales, some of the biggest causes for complaints were oppressive conduct or harrassment, neglect or failure in duty, and unlawful or unneccessary arrests and detentions.

Lack of fairness and impartiality by police was also a major reason for complaints being recorded.

In Herts, of the complaints recorded just 345 were investigated – a drop of almost half compared to 698 investigated in the previous year.

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Of those investigated in 2013-14, 16% were upheld compared to 12% in 2012-13.

A total of 34,863 complaints were recorded during 2013-14, reflecting a 15% increase compared to 2012-13 and a 52% rise since the IPCC records began in 2004-05.

The year’s total is the highest number since the IPCC was established.

However, the report went on to explain that IPCC research undertaken early last year revealed people had experienced more contact with the police over the previous 12 months than in 2011, and also that people’s willingness to complain increased from 68% in 2011 to 73% in 2014.

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According to the Herts force, some of the increase in 2013-14 is also down to the definition of a complaint being broadened beyond an officer’s conduct to include ‘direction and control’ matters to do with operational policing.

The county’s crime commissioner David Lloyd said: “As Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire I oversee the Constabulary’s performance and maintain an overview of complaints against police and I welcome this report.

“The public should have complete trust in their local police force and this includes having the confidence that their complaints will be taken seriously and acted upon.

“The changes in legislation have broadened the definition of complaints to include direction and control matters to do with operational policing and subsequently this has increased the numbers that are recorded by the IPCC.

“I believe this is a correct move as it will increase transparency and more truly reflect the volume of complaints made to all police forces.”