One in 10 police complaints linked to coronavirus

Suffolk police said it cannot yet say how Covid rules will be policed at Christmas. Stock picture. P

Library image of Suffolk police officers on patrol during the Covid-19 pandemic - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

One in 10 complaints about Suffolk police in the last year were linked to coronavirus, according to a new report.

Of 401 complaints received by Suffolk Constabulary's professional standards department in the 12 months to March 31, 2021, 42 were linked to Covid-19.

The data was contained in a report before the police and crime commissioner's accountability and performance panel on Friday.

The complaints involved a total of 47 separate allegations – with almost two thirds (29) relating to wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), maintaining social distance or exposing the complainant to risk.

Two allegations concerned off-duty officers breaching restrictions, while another 16 complaints related to the exercising of police powers – of which 10 specifically concerned action taken by officers and included complaints from people who felt harassed or victimised, that officers were rude and aggressive when issuing fixed penalty notice or that they failed to listen to their account.

Others were dissatisfied with police visits to an address following reports of a regulation breach, with one complaining that a vehicle was seized despite an exemption being in place and another that speeding checks were being carried out during lockdown. 

Of all the complaints linked to coronavirus, one remains live and just four resulted in a decision that an unacceptable service had been provided.

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All four related to complaints about the wearing of PPE or social distancing, and resulted in an apology and staff learning.

Overall numbers of complaints increased by 21% during the same period.

The force said the increase was caused by changes to the legislative framework governing complaints – with the Policing and Crime Act making significant changes to the system, which, since last February, has required forces to log complaints about a much wider range of issues not covered by Schedule 3 of the pre-existing Police Reform Act.

Chief Constable Steve Jupp said: "We want to give people the best service possible and continue being the best public servants we can be.

"Where appropriate, we need to hold people to account.

"We're a risk based organisation. Things happen very dynamically and situations change.

"We're never going to please everyone, sadly, but we need to have the highest standards of service.

Suffolk Constabulary chief constable Steve Jupp. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk Constabulary chief constable Steve Jupp - Credit: Archant

"The pandemic has put different operational requirements on us, and, of course, society has changed.

"It's important that we are a reflective, learning organisation.

"Those who fail to meet the high standard we set ourselves are dealt with appropriately."

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