Complaints about police are on rise - and people are unhappy with how they’re being dealt with

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There has been a big increase in complaints about police in the last year - and more people than ever are unhappy with how they’re being dealt with, it was revealed today.

That’s the conclusion after the Independent Police Complaints Commission published the national police complaints statistics.

As the number of complaints made increases, there remain marked differences in the way police forces across England and Wales handle complaints.

In 2014/15, there were more than 37,000 complaints made, a six per cent overall increase on the year before.

At the same time, the total number of appeals made by dissatisfied complainants increased by seven per cent.

In Cleveland, there were 501 complaints in total, a 10 per cent increase on the year before.

The total number of appeals made by dissatisfied complainants was 116 - a 22 per cent increase on the previous year.

In Durham, there were 314 complaints in total, a four per cent increase on the year before.

The total number of appeals made by dissatisfied complainants was 55 – a 28 per cent increase.

The statistics also reveal marked inconsistencies in whether forces investigated most complaints formally, or used more informal ‘local resolution’ processes.

Some forces investigated more than 70 per cent of complaints, while others used local resolution in more than 70 per cent of cases.

Cleveland Police investigated 44 per cent of cases and 42 per cent were dealt with through the local resolution process.

In Durham, 52 per cent of cases were investigated and 38 per cent were dealt with through the local process.

The proportion of complaints that were initially upheld in each force, ranging from seven to 27 per cent; and the proportion of investigation appeals each force upheld, ranging from none to two-thirds

Cleveland Police upheld 19 per cent of complaints and 24 per cent of its investigation appeals

Durham Constabulary upheld 22 per cent of complaints and 18 per cent of its appeals.

The success rate for complaints investigation appeals considered by the IPCC (39 per cent) remained twice as high as when those appeals were heard by forces themselves (19 per cent).

The IPCC upheld 26 per cent of appeals made about Cleveland Police complaint investigations, and 25 per cent those made about Durham complaint probes.

The average length of time taken to resolve complaints ranged from 52 to 205 days

On average, it took 91 days for Cleveland Police to resolve a complaint. In Durham it was 84 days.

Dame Anne Owers, chairman of the IPCC, said: “The figures for England and Wales 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.”