If you make a complaint against the police, you will no doubt be aware of the Local Resolution process.
It is very important that you understand this process as it is all too often abused by police forces in an attempt to avoid IPCC intervention into the majority of complaints.
The abuse I am discussing in this article is the Local Resolution (LR) process classification.
When a complaint is made, a person in PSD (the police internal Professional Standards Department) aptly named the ‘appropriate authority‘ makes a recording decision (based on IPCC statutory guidelines and in their Focus guide) whether the complaint be dealt with by Local Resolution or, Local Investigation.
While a Local Resolution may appear to be a sign that police are taking your complaint serious, this is not the case and is the lowest level of complaint that can be recorded.
After the Local Resolution process into your complaint is complete, if you are dissatisfied with the outcome, you then have the right to appeal to the Chief Constable for the force in question. (unless the complaint relates to direction and control, in which case, you get no appeal)
This may sound promising, after all, you get to appeal to the Chief… wrong, do not be fooled into thinking otherwise.
Firstly, any complaint that is dealt with by the Local Resolution process has no possibility for an outcome that includes criminal or disciplinary procedures. This is a fundamental part of the Local Resolution process, only a Local Investigation can result in a criminal or disciplinary outcome (if proven). A Local Resolutions is simply a ‘slap on the wrist’ no more.
Secondly, the Chief Constable, (as much as he or she would disagree), will have a biased opinion of his/her staff in their own constabulary, and any appeal would likely be not upheld (not decided in your favour) as it has already been reviewed by the same force.
What is the Local Resolution process.
The best way to understand the local resolution process is to read the IPCC Focus Guide from their website. It explains the rationale and give s examples. Simply put, if you make a complaints that alleges anything that ‘if proven‘ would result in criminal or disciplinary procedures, then it must be recorded as a Local Investigation, not a Local Resolution.
If you make a complaint, firstly, you need to understand what you are complaining about and have some understanding of what you expect.
You cannot expect jail time or expect an officer to be sacked for a very minor incident, I shall use a few examples.
An officer was a little impolite with you. You asked an officer a question and (s)he was abrupt. You felt they were being a bit rude.
Yes, the Local Resolution process will be the correct route as if the allegation proven, the officer will not get pulled before the magistrates or be disciplined. This is a good example of what the Local Resolution process is for.
You receive an email from a police officer who accidentally sent you copy of your personal information from the PNC (Police National Computer). You see on the PNC that another police officer has fabricated evidence about you stating you are a criminal and have criminal convictions, which are untrue.
This should be a Local Investigation, and not a Local Resolution The reason is, the allegation is of fabricating evidence and making false statements. It does not matter how you word the complaint (although it is helpful), the appropriate authority should, from the allegation, see that the allegation (if proven) would amount to Misconduct in a Public Office, which could amount to a criminal offence and or disciplinary procedures.
From the examples above, it can be seen that the complaint is classified based on the allegation alone.
It must be said also that, even if there is evidence to challenge the complaint allegation, this evidence cannot be used at the compliant classification stage. The classification must be made based on ‘face value’ of the allegation and evidence at this stage cannot be used to make the classification of LR or LI.
If the police classify a complaint as Local Resolution, they can, if they later believe it should be, be upgraded to a local investigation.
If on the other hand, they classify it as a Local Investigation, even if they determine some time later (for any reason), it could be dealt with by Local resolution, they cannot downgrade it.
This is one of the reasons why police avoid the Local Investigation as early as possible as their investigation can be appealed to the IPCC. All investigation details will be open to scrutiny by an independent body.
The other reason for abuse is that the IPCC statistically uphold a high percentage of complaints referred to them that the police force themselves failed to uphold.
The irony of this is that PSD are the appropriate authority. IPCC made the rules but do not get involved policing the abuse of the rules they set!
PSD make the decision how to record the complaint. If police abuse the process (and they do on most occasions), you should immediately write or email them telling them why you believe it was wrongly recorded and that you do not agree with the Local Resolution process. Quote the Focus Guide above and ask that they re-classify it correctly. If they refuse, then you should write to the IPCC and ask them to request the PSD provide their rationale for their decision.
If you are serious that the Police have recorded it incorrectly, you can and should put in a further complaint, against the appropriate authority for ‘perverting the course of justice‘ & Misconduct in a Public office for abuse of process. This is a criminal offence and must them be recorded as a Local Investigation.
Do not let them fob off your complaint as a(
slap on the wrist) Local Resolution. Also read the article by Iain Gould of DPP Law (from 2012)