Complaints against police on the rise
COMPLAINTS against police officers in Suffolk soared by almost 50% in the first six months of this year, new figures reveal.The number of complaints per 1,000 officers in the county is higher than in Norfolk and other forces deemed to be a similar size to Suffolk.
By Danielle Nuttall
COMPLAINTS against police officers in Suffolk soared by almost 50% in the first six months of this year, new figures reveal.
The number of complaints per 1,000 officers in the county is higher than in Norfolk and other forces deemed to be a similar size to Suffolk.
The figures are revealed in a report by Suffolk Constabulary's Professional Standards Unit which is due to be discussed at a police authority meeting on Friday.
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They show 287 complaints were made against the force between April and September compared to 195 during the same period last year - 212 per 1,000 officers.
Of these, seven complaints of racial discrimination were made, although one of these was later withdrawn. There were also 61 civil claims made against Suffolk police.
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The force puts the increase down to improved reporting procedures and says more complaints have been resolved locally, which indicates many of these were at the lower end of seriousness.
A spokesman for Suffolk police said: “There are a number of reasons why the number of complaints received by police has increased.
“Firstly, people are more aware that they can make a complaint. Secondly, people have more confidence to come forward knowing their complaint will be take seriously and dealt with appropriately and thirdly, it reflects the fact we now have far better recording practices in line with requirements introduced nationwide by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
“Officers are aware of the new procedures and there is an increased drive to try and resolve problems at a local level which has benefits for both people making the complaint and the organisation as matters are being resolved more efficiently for the benefit of both parties.”
The report said five complaints made against the force during the first six months of the year had been upheld.
The southern area of Suffolk accounts for the most complaints but the force said this was not surprising due to the workload and activity undertaken in the area - which is the busiest of the force.
Jim Keeble, chairman of Suffolk Police Federation, said: “I know of no reason operationally why these figures should be that much higher,” he said.
“We have a policy which is entirely correct in terms of trying to sort out disputes between members of the public and the constabulary at the lowest possible level.”
Mr Keeble said members of the public were now able to report a complaint about the force's methods of policing rather than one aimed specifically at an officer - which could be one reason why grievances had gone up.