Hundreds of allegations made about Warwickshire Police in just one year

Discrimination and corruption were among hundreds of allegations made about Warwickshire Police last year.

The public made 680 complaints about Warwickshire Police in 2020/21, according to new Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) figures.

These are the first complaints statistics to be published since moving to a new system of recording complaints, under new regulations within the Policing and Crime Act, which came into force in February 2020.

Under the new system, any expression of dissatisfaction by a member of the public about the service they have received from a police force is logged as a complaint.

These can either be dealt with informally, or recorded formally if the allegation is more serious, the complainant wants it recorded or they were unhappy with the initial handling – with Warwickshire Police recording 175 formal complaints last year.

The total 680 complaints made to the force in 2020/21 covered 788 allegations.

The most common cause for complaint was delivery of duties and services, such as decisions made by police or their actions after contact with the public, covering 492 allegations.

Warwickshire Police also received 14 allegations relating to discriminatory behaviour, and two relating to abuse of position or corruption.

Information on outcomes isn’t broken down by police force.

However, 500 allegations against Warwickshire Police were finalised (when the complainant is notified about the outcome and any planned action) in 2020/21.

Of these, 379 were dealt with informally. Of those dealt with as part of formally recorded complaints, 61 were resolved without investigation, and 60 were finalised after an investigation.

Across England and Wales, 67,732 complaint cases were logged in 2020/21, and 36,365 of these were recorded formally, covering 109,151 allegations.

A total of 38,982 people serving with the police were subject to a complaint – 67 per cent of those complained about were male and where their ethnicity was known, 81 per cent were white.

Police across the country recorded 128 allegations of sexual assault and 23 allegations of sexual harassment last year.

There were also 3,764 reports of discriminatory behaviour, with the majority (2,375) relating to racial discrimination.

Police were also accused of obstructing justice 666 times and organisational corruption 190 times, while there were 634 allegations of abuse of position, including for financial purpose (53), for sexual purpose (52), and for the purpose of pursuing an inappropriate emotional relationship (35).

Police forces finalised 32,012 allegations in complaint cases that were handled informally, 45,205 allegations were handled formally but not investigated, and 6,533 allegations were investigated formally.

Among cases handled informally, 41 per cent led to an explanation being given to the complainant, 31 per cent of cases resulted in no further action, seven per cent led to an apology, and learning and reflective activity were the outcome of 14 per cent of cases.

Of the 23,243 complaint cases handled formally in 2020/21, more than half (57 per cent) had at least one allegation resulting in no further action being taken, with 18 complaint cases having at least one allegation resulting in either a misconduct meeting or hearing.

In more than 40 per cent of complaint allegations finalised, the police took some action – this ranged from explanations being given (24 per cent), learning outcomes (nine per cent), referral to a reflective practice review process (four per cent), apologies (four per cent) or other outcomes (six per cent).

IOPC Director General Michael Lockwood said he was encouraged that widening the definition of a complaint and removing barriers to recording had led to a significant increase in complaints received, and that many are being resolved quickly with tailored responses such as explanations and apologies that address the concerns raised.

He said: “An effective complaints system, and independent oversight of it, is a vital part of securing public confidence in policing.

“Now, more than ever, the public need assurance that policing is listening to their concerns and taking action to put things right. They want to know that there are checks and balances to police powers and there is accountability and learning when things go wrong.”

Mr Lockwood said it was notable that very few complaints resulted in an investigation into an individual’s conduct and fewer still (18), a misconduct outcome for an individual.

Going forward, the IOPC will be seeking assurance that there is an appropriate response when concerns about conduct are raised.

He was also concerned that so few cases have resulted in learning for individuals, or the police force concerned – particularly the low use of reflective practice – as the introduction was central to the reform and intended to provide an open environment to encourage all those involved to reflect, learn and, where necessary, put things right to prevent issues reoccurring.

The complainant has a right to apply for a review for cases handled formally if they are unhappy with the way their complaint was handled, or with the final outcome.

Reviews are handled by the appropriate review body.

Local policing bodies (LPB) received 4,346 reviews and upheld 15 per cent of those handled otherwise than by investigation, and 19% per cent of those subject to investigation.

The IOPC dealt with 969 reviews and upheld 32 per cent.

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