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Police and crime commissioner’s scrutiny of police complaints & conduct

As your Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly I will hold the Chief Constable to account to ensure that the police are continually building confidence and restoring trust with our communities. The police deal with hundreds of thousands of non-emergency and 999 calls every year, and the vast majority of police officers and staff do their jobs with integrity and honesty.

My Police and Crime Plan sets out my commitment to improving public confidence, and to achieve this it is important that a clear, transparent and accessible complaints system is in place. Our communities have a right to expect that the Chief Constable is held to account when police actions fall below the standards expected, and I want to make sure that we continue to remain open and transparent about what we have learnt from complaints. My Plan confirms that I will continue to hold the Chief Constable to account for the improvements that are still required to deliver a high-quality customer service, and the complaints system is an integral part of this.

An accessible and customer focussed complaints system provides communities with the power to raise concerns about the policing service they receive and about the conduct of the people delivering that service. Understanding dissatisfaction provides opportunity for learning and improvement, and it is very important that we listen to and investigate complaints in order to build trust in the police service. 

This is supported on a regular basis by the following monitoring activities:

  • Undertaking reviews of police complaints. When a member of the public is dissatisfied with how their complaint has been handled by their local police force, the Police and Crime Commissioners Office may be contacted to conduct a police complaint review. We must determine whether the police’s handling of the complaint and the outcome was reasonable and proportionate. Where mistakes are identified and the review is upheld the Police and Crime Commissioner will make recommendations to the police to rectify the issue.
  • Formal reporting to the Police and Crime Commissioner by the Deputy Chief Constable about performance relating to police complaints, police complaint handling and police misconduct on a quarterly basis.
  • Monthly meetings between the OPCC Executive Team and Head of PSD to oversee the police handling of complaint and misconduct investigations, in particular to consider timeliness of investigations, identifying where investigation delays are and why and for those approaching or exceeding 12 months, , to make reasonable and proportionate recommendations where necessary.
  • Dip sampling of completed complaint and misconduct cases. This involves a review by relevant Police and Crime Commissioner’s staff of a randomly selected batch of complaint and misconduct case files held by the police and the writing of a report on what has been found - typically checking due process has been followed, and timeliness.
  • Monitoring of Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) national comparison data of police complaint and misconduct. The IOPC collects data directly from police complaint and misconduct databases, and reports quarterly and annually. These reports are published on the IOPC website, and a link is also provided on this website. Where a report highlights performance that is of concern, the Police and Crime Commissioner will require the Force to provide a response to this.