More than 80,000 complaints made against police in England and Wales last year

More than 80,000 complaints were made against police in England and Wales last year, a rise of eight per cent on the previous 12 months, official figures show.

Watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said more than half the cases, 55 per cent, were about delivery of duties and service; 20 per cent were about police powers, policies and procedures; and 13 per cent about individual behaviours.

While only one per cent of complaints were about discreditable conduct, the number of these allegations rose from 622 in 2021/22 to 743 this year, an increase of 19 per cent.

The IOPC annual report on police complaints, published on Thursday, showed that a total of 81,142 complaints were logged in 2022/23, which included 134,952 separate allegations.

However, forces took 159 days to complete allegations where they were handled formally, a rise of 25 days on the previous year.

When they receive a complaint, police forces can handle the complaint informally, or the issue goes a stage further and is handled formally.

Of the 30,521 complaints handled formally in 2022/23, about half (52 per cent) had at least one allegation that led to an explanation or apology, a rise of 10 per cent on last year.

The backs of a group of uniformed police officers standing at a cordon.
Most complaints were about delivery of duties or services by police forces (Andrew Matthews/PA)

There were 468 of the most serious cases where misconduct proceedings are a possible outcome.

The figures showed that 113 complaints led to a misconduct meeting or hearing, up from 68 in 2021/22 and 18 in 2020/21.

Among the complaints handled informally, 58 per cent of cases led to an explanation being given to the complainant.

There were 74,543 people who complained about the police, with those in their thirties most likely to complain (21 per cent).

While complaints by children aged 17 and under made up only two per cent of the total, the number in this age group increased by 28 per cent this year.

Acting IOPC director general Tom Whiting said: “Our annual police complaints statistics broadly reflect public concern with day-to-day policing issues and the level of service that people directly experience, rather than high-profile police misconduct cases that have repeatedly dominated news headlines.

“It is notable that by far the most commonly recorded complaint type continues to relate to police service delivery such as a lack of updates or delays in responses, rather than concerns around police misconduct.”

He said that the eight percent rise in total complaints this year, following an 11 per cent rise last year, is linked to the simplifying of the system and the widening of the definition of a complaint.

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