Suffolk: Sharp rise in complaints against police officers

COMPLAINTS against Suffolk police offices have soared by 32%, new figures reveal.

Statistics from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) show the number of people unhappy with officers rose to 418 in 2009/10, against 317 the year before.

The number of allegations within the complaints nearly doubled, from 476 in 2008/09 to 867 the following year.

They included 337 allegations officers neglected their duty, 148 they were rude and 34 of assault.

In England and Wales 33,854 complained about the police, an increase of 8%.

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But Suffolk police say they have since improved their record - the number of complaints between April to September dropped from 184 in 2009, to 168 in 2010.

Rachel Cerfontyne, IPCC commissioner for Suffolk, said: “Last year there was a further increase in the number of people complaining about the police, and a significant rise in Suffolk.

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“Prior to the introduction of the IPCC in 2004, the number of people complaining was falling and later research showed only 10% of people who felt like complaining actually did.

“I believe improved confidence and access has encouraged those who previously were not inclined to complain that making a complaint is worthwhile.

“The number of ‘rude and late’ complaints highlights the standards expected of the police service and the need to improve how they interact with the public.

“However, while some aspects can be improved without cost, such as through better leadership, smaller police budgets will present a challenge around levels of service and public expectation. This will require forces to develop an open dialogue with the public.”

“As part of routine discussion I will raise the complaints figures with Suffolk Police, but it can be difficult to pinpoint any specific reasons for an increase. Over a longer period of several years the rise in complaints in Suffolk is in line with the national trend. They have undertaken training and increased awareness of complaint recording for local supervisors.

“Suffolk Police are better than many forces in resolving over half of their complaints locally, suggesting a majority of their recorded complaints are lower level ones.”

Superintendent Stuart Sedgwick, head of Suffolk’s professional standards department, said: “We have worked hard to improve customer satisfaction and this has included bespoke training and a more structured process to seek and utilise feedback. “This has contributed to a high measure of public confidence being recorded.

“It is particularly pleasing to note the continued reduction in the percentage of complaints that relate to incivility.

“The force has now introduced a new training package which will be delivered to new and experienced officers through initial induction and refresher sessions.”

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