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An act of parliament that provides the core framework of police powers to combat crime and provide codes of practice for the exercise of these powers.
Leads and manages the development of the police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The body that represents the interests of all police constables, sergeants, and inspectors.
Deals with someone’s inability or failure to perform to a satisfactory level, but without breaching the Standards of Professional Behaviour.
Focuses on putting an issue right and preventing it from happening again by encouraging those involved to reflect on their actions and learn. It is not a disciplinary process or a disciplinary outcome.
Department within a police force that deals with complaints and conduct matters.
Refers to lower-level misconduct or performance-related issues, which are dealt with in a proportionate and constructive manner.
This means doing what is appropriate in the circumstances, taking into account the facts and the context in which the complaint has been raised, within the framework of legislation and guidance.
The average is calculated using the individual results of the forces in that most similar force group.
An investigation carried out by IOPC staff.
Carried out by the police under their own direction and control. The IOPC sets the terms of reference and receives the investigation report when it is complete. Complainants have a right of appeal following a supervised investigation (unless it is an investigation into a direction and control matter).
This act sets out how the police complaints system operates.
How a police force is run, for example policing standards or policing policy.
An investigation carried out by the police under the direction and control of the IOPC.
The organisation that is responsible for assessing how to deal with a complaint. For example – whether it can be handled locally or reaches the criteria for referral to the IOPC. The appropriate authority may be the chief officer of the police force or the PCC for the force. If a complaint investigation finds that someone has a case to answer for misconduct, the appropriate authority is responsible for arranging any misconduct proceedings. If you make a complaint, the appropriate authority for your case will contact you.
An intelligence-led agency with law enforcement powers, it is also responsible for reducing the harm that is caused to people and communities by serious organised crime.
Policing bodies include police and crime commissioners, the Common Council for the City of London, or the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime.
Investigations carried out entirely by the police. Complainants have a right of appeal following a local investigation (unless it is an investigation into a direction and control matter).
IOPC guidance to the police service and police authorities on the handling of complaints.
A complaint or recordable conduct matter that doesn’t need to be referred to the IOPC, but where the seriousness or circumstances justifies referral.
Parameters within which an investigation is conducted.
A person is adversely affected if he or she suffers any form of loss or damage, distress or inconvenience, if he or she is put in danger or is otherwise unduly put at risk of being adversely affected.
This is where a manager deals with the way someone has behaved. It can include: showing the police officer or member of staff how their behaviour fell short of expectations set out in the Standards of Professional Behaviour; identifying expectations for future conduct; or addressing any underlying causes of misconduct.
This could be the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Common Council for the City of London, or the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime.
A flexible process for dealing with complaints that can be adapted to the needs of the complainant. It may involve, for example, providing information and an explanation, an apology, or a meeting between the complainant and the officer involved.
A flexible process for dealing with complaints that can be adapted to the needs of the complainant. It may involve, for example, providing information and an explanation, an apology, or a meeting between the complainant and the officer involved.
A breach of standards of professional behaviour by police officers or staff so serious it could justify their dismissal.
A matter where no complaint has been received, but where there is an indication that a person serving with the police may have committed a criminal offence or behaved in a manner that would justify disciplinary proceedings.
Disapplication means that a police force may handle a complaint in whatever way it thinks fit, including not dealing with it under complaints legislation. This may only happen in certain circumstances where the complaint fits one or more of the grounds for disapplication set out in law.
The ending of an ongoing investigation into a complaint, conduct matter or DSI matter. An investigation may only be discontinued if it meets one or more of the grounds for discontinuance set out in law.
Quarter 1 covers 1 April - 30 June Quarter 2 covers 1 April - 30 September Quarter 3 covers 1 April - 31 December Quarter 4 covers the full financial year (1 April - 31 March).
You can request a review/appeal if you’re not satisfied with how your complaint has been handled.
Used to house anyone who has been detained.
Complainants have the right to appeal to the IOPC if a police force did not record their complaint or notify the correct police force if it was made originally to the wrong force.
The purpose of an investigation is to establish the facts behind a complaint, conduct matter, or DSI matter and reach conclusions. An investigator looks into matters and produces a report that sets out and analyses the evidence. There are three types of investigations: local, directed and independent.
The ending of an ongoing investigation into a complaint, conduct matter or DSI matter. An investigation may only be discontinued if it meets one or more of the grounds for discontinuance set out in law.
The type of behaviour being complained about. A single complaint case can have one or many allegations attached.
A person who makes a complaint about the conduct of someone serving with the police.
The ending of an ongoing investigation into a complaint, conduct matter or DSI matter. An investigation may only be discontinued if it meets one or more of the grounds for discontinuance set out in law.
List of officers and staff who have been dismissed from policing, or would have been if they had not retired or resigned.
The type of behaviour being complained about. A single complaint case can have one or many allegations attached.
Disapplication means that a police force may handle a complaint in whatever way it thinks fit, including not dealing with it under complaints legislation. This may only happen in certain circumstances where the complaint fits one or more of the grounds for disapplication set out in law.
An independent judicial officer, the coroner enquires into deaths reported to him/her.
A breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour that would justify at least a written warning.
No further action may be taken with regard to a complaint if the complainant decides to retract their allegation(s).
A record is made of a complaint, giving it formal status as a complaint under the Police Reform Act 2002.
This is a format where information is written in plain English and short sentences.
The IOPC must be notified about specific types of complaint or incidents to be able to decide how they should be dealt with.
No further action may be taken with regard to a complaint if the complainant decides to retract their allegation(s).
Casework involves assessing appeals. Casework staff also have a role in overseeing the police complaints system to help ensure police forces handle complaints in the best possible way.
Disapplication means that a police force may handle a complaint in whatever way it thinks fit, including not dealing with it under complaints legislation. This may only happen in certain circumstances where the complaint fits one or more of the grounds for disapplication set out in law.
Conduct includes acts, omissions, statements and decisions (whether actual, alleged or inferred). For example: language used and the manner or tone of communications.
You can request a review/appeal if you’re not satisfied with how your complaint has been handled.
You can request a review/appeal if you’re not satisfied with how your complaint has been handled.

Easy read

An act of parliament that provides the core framework of police powers to combat crime and provide codes of practice for the exercise of these powers.
Leads and manages the development of the police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The body that represents the interests of all police constables, sergeants, and inspectors.
Deals with someone’s inability or failure to perform to a satisfactory level, but without breaching the Standards of Professional Behaviour.
Focuses on putting an issue right and preventing it from happening again by encouraging those involved to reflect on their actions and learn. It is not a disciplinary process or a disciplinary outcome.
Department within a police force that deals with complaints and conduct matters.
Refers to lower-level misconduct or performance-related issues, which are dealt with in a proportionate and constructive manner.
This means doing what is appropriate in the circumstances, taking into account the facts and the context in which the complaint has been raised, within the framework of legislation and guidance.
The average is calculated using the individual results of the forces in that most similar force group.
An investigation carried out by IOPC staff.
Carried out by the police under their own direction and control. The IOPC sets the terms of reference and receives the investigation report when it is complete. Complainants have a right of appeal following a supervised investigation (unless it is an investigation into a direction and control matter).
This act sets out how the police complaints system operates.
How a police force is run, for example policing standards or policing policy.
An investigation carried out by the police under the direction and control of the IOPC.
The organisation that is responsible for assessing how to deal with a complaint. For example – whether it can be handled locally or reaches the criteria for referral to the IOPC. The appropriate authority may be the chief officer of the police force or the PCC for the force. If a complaint investigation finds that someone has a case to answer for misconduct, the appropriate authority is responsible for arranging any misconduct proceedings. If you make a complaint, the appropriate authority for your case will contact you.
An intelligence-led agency with law enforcement powers, it is also responsible for reducing the harm that is caused to people and communities by serious organised crime.
Policing bodies include police and crime commissioners, the Common Council for the City of London, or the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime.
Investigations carried out entirely by the police. Complainants have a right of appeal following a local investigation (unless it is an investigation into a direction and control matter).
IOPC guidance to the police service and police authorities on the handling of complaints.
A complaint or recordable conduct matter that doesn’t need to be referred to the IOPC, but where the seriousness or circumstances justifies referral.
Parameters within which an investigation is conducted.
A person is adversely affected if he or she suffers any form of loss or damage, distress or inconvenience, if he or she is put in danger or is otherwise unduly put at risk of being adversely affected.
This is where a manager deals with the way someone has behaved. It can include: showing the police officer or member of staff how their behaviour fell short of expectations set out in the Standards of Professional Behaviour; identifying expectations for future conduct; or addressing any underlying causes of misconduct.
This could be the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Common Council for the City of London, or the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime.
A flexible process for dealing with complaints that can be adapted to the needs of the complainant. It may involve, for example, providing information and an explanation, an apology, or a meeting between the complainant and the officer involved.
A flexible process for dealing with complaints that can be adapted to the needs of the complainant. It may involve, for example, providing information and an explanation, an apology, or a meeting between the complainant and the officer involved.
A breach of standards of professional behaviour by police officers or staff so serious it could justify their dismissal.
A matter where no complaint has been received, but where there is an indication that a person serving with the police may have committed a criminal offence or behaved in a manner that would justify disciplinary proceedings.
Disapplication means that a police force may handle a complaint in whatever way it thinks fit, including not dealing with it under complaints legislation. This may only happen in certain circumstances where the complaint fits one or more of the grounds for disapplication set out in law.
The ending of an ongoing investigation into a complaint, conduct matter or DSI matter. An investigation may only be discontinued if it meets one or more of the grounds for discontinuance set out in law.
Quarter 1 covers 1 April - 30 June Quarter 2 covers 1 April - 30 September Quarter 3 covers 1 April - 31 December Quarter 4 covers the full financial year (1 April - 31 March).
You can request a review/appeal if you’re not satisfied with how your complaint has been handled.
Used to house anyone who has been detained.
Complainants have the right to appeal to the IOPC if a police force did not record their complaint or notify the correct police force if it was made originally to the wrong force.
The purpose of an investigation is to establish the facts behind a complaint, conduct matter, or DSI matter and reach conclusions. An investigator looks into matters and produces a report that sets out and analyses the evidence. There are three types of investigations: local, directed and independent.
The ending of an ongoing investigation into a complaint, conduct matter or DSI matter. An investigation may only be discontinued if it meets one or more of the grounds for discontinuance set out in law.
The type of behaviour being complained about. A single complaint case can have one or many allegations attached.
A person who makes a complaint about the conduct of someone serving with the police.
The ending of an ongoing investigation into a complaint, conduct matter or DSI matter. An investigation may only be discontinued if it meets one or more of the grounds for discontinuance set out in law.
List of officers and staff who have been dismissed from policing, or would have been if they had not retired or resigned.
The type of behaviour being complained about. A single complaint case can have one or many allegations attached.
Disapplication means that a police force may handle a complaint in whatever way it thinks fit, including not dealing with it under complaints legislation. This may only happen in certain circumstances where the complaint fits one or more of the grounds for disapplication set out in law.
An independent judicial officer, the coroner enquires into deaths reported to him/her.
A breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour that would justify at least a written warning.
No further action may be taken with regard to a complaint if the complainant decides to retract their allegation(s).
A record is made of a complaint, giving it formal status as a complaint under the Police Reform Act 2002.
This is a format where information is written in plain English and short sentences.
The IOPC must be notified about specific types of complaint or incidents to be able to decide how they should be dealt with.
No further action may be taken with regard to a complaint if the complainant decides to retract their allegation(s).
Casework involves assessing appeals. Casework staff also have a role in overseeing the police complaints system to help ensure police forces handle complaints in the best possible way.
Disapplication means that a police force may handle a complaint in whatever way it thinks fit, including not dealing with it under complaints legislation. This may only happen in certain circumstances where the complaint fits one or more of the grounds for disapplication set out in law.
Conduct includes acts, omissions, statements and decisions (whether actual, alleged or inferred). For example: language used and the manner or tone of communications.
You can request a review/appeal if you’re not satisfied with how your complaint has been handled.
You can request a review/appeal if you’re not satisfied with how your complaint has been handled.

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An act of parliament that provides the core framework of police powers to combat crime and provide codes of practice for the exercise of these powers.
Leads and manages the development of the police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The body that represents the interests of all police constables, sergeants, and inspectors.
Deals with someone’s inability or failure to perform to a satisfactory level, but without breaching the Standards of Professional Behaviour.
Focuses on putting an issue right and preventing it from happening again by encouraging those involved to reflect on their actions and learn. It is not a disciplinary process or a disciplinary outcome.
Department within a police force that deals with complaints and conduct matters.
Refers to lower-level misconduct or performance-related issues, which are dealt with in a proportionate and constructive manner.
This means doing what is appropriate in the circumstances, taking into account the facts and the context in which the complaint has been raised, within the framework of legislation and guidance.
The average is calculated using the individual results of the forces in that most similar force group.
An investigation carried out by IOPC staff.
Carried out by the police under their own direction and control. The IOPC sets the terms of reference and receives the investigation report when it is complete. Complainants have a right of appeal following a supervised investigation (unless it is an investigation into a direction and control matter).
This act sets out how the police complaints system operates.
How a police force is run, for example policing standards or policing policy.
An investigation carried out by the police under the direction and control of the IOPC.
The organisation that is responsible for assessing how to deal with a complaint. For example – whether it can be handled locally or reaches the criteria for referral to the IOPC. The appropriate authority may be the chief officer of the police force or the PCC for the force. If a complaint investigation finds that someone has a case to answer for misconduct, the appropriate authority is responsible for arranging any misconduct proceedings. If you make a complaint, the appropriate authority for your case will contact you.
An intelligence-led agency with law enforcement powers, it is also responsible for reducing the harm that is caused to people and communities by serious organised crime.
Policing bodies include police and crime commissioners, the Common Council for the City of London, or the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime.
Investigations carried out entirely by the police. Complainants have a right of appeal following a local investigation (unless it is an investigation into a direction and control matter).
IOPC guidance to the police service and police authorities on the handling of complaints.
A complaint or recordable conduct matter that doesn’t need to be referred to the IOPC, but where the seriousness or circumstances justifies referral.
Parameters within which an investigation is conducted.
A person is adversely affected if he or she suffers any form of loss or damage, distress or inconvenience, if he or she is put in danger or is otherwise unduly put at risk of being adversely affected.
This is where a manager deals with the way someone has behaved. It can include: showing the police officer or member of staff how their behaviour fell short of expectations set out in the Standards of Professional Behaviour; identifying expectations for future conduct; or addressing any underlying causes of misconduct.
This could be the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Common Council for the City of London, or the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime.
A flexible process for dealing with complaints that can be adapted to the needs of the complainant. It may involve, for example, providing information and an explanation, an apology, or a meeting between the complainant and the officer involved.
A flexible process for dealing with complaints that can be adapted to the needs of the complainant. It may involve, for example, providing information and an explanation, an apology, or a meeting between the complainant and the officer involved.
A breach of standards of professional behaviour by police officers or staff so serious it could justify their dismissal.
A matter where no complaint has been received, but where there is an indication that a person serving with the police may have committed a criminal offence or behaved in a manner that would justify disciplinary proceedings.
Disapplication means that a police force may handle a complaint in whatever way it thinks fit, including not dealing with it under complaints legislation. This may only happen in certain circumstances where the complaint fits one or more of the grounds for disapplication set out in law.
The ending of an ongoing investigation into a complaint, conduct matter or DSI matter. An investigation may only be discontinued if it meets one or more of the grounds for discontinuance set out in law.
Quarter 1 covers 1 April - 30 June Quarter 2 covers 1 April - 30 September Quarter 3 covers 1 April - 31 December Quarter 4 covers the full financial year (1 April - 31 March).
You can request a review/appeal if you’re not satisfied with how your complaint has been handled.
Used to house anyone who has been detained.
Complainants have the right to appeal to the IOPC if a police force did not record their complaint or notify the correct police force if it was made originally to the wrong force.
The purpose of an investigation is to establish the facts behind a complaint, conduct matter, or DSI matter and reach conclusions. An investigator looks into matters and produces a report that sets out and analyses the evidence. There are three types of investigations: local, directed and independent.
The ending of an ongoing investigation into a complaint, conduct matter or DSI matter. An investigation may only be discontinued if it meets one or more of the grounds for discontinuance set out in law.
The type of behaviour being complained about. A single complaint case can have one or many allegations attached.
A person who makes a complaint about the conduct of someone serving with the police.
The ending of an ongoing investigation into a complaint, conduct matter or DSI matter. An investigation may only be discontinued if it meets one or more of the grounds for discontinuance set out in law.
List of officers and staff who have been dismissed from policing, or would have been if they had not retired or resigned.
The type of behaviour being complained about. A single complaint case can have one or many allegations attached.
Disapplication means that a police force may handle a complaint in whatever way it thinks fit, including not dealing with it under complaints legislation. This may only happen in certain circumstances where the complaint fits one or more of the grounds for disapplication set out in law.
An independent judicial officer, the coroner enquires into deaths reported to him/her.
A breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour that would justify at least a written warning.
No further action may be taken with regard to a complaint if the complainant decides to retract their allegation(s).
A record is made of a complaint, giving it formal status as a complaint under the Police Reform Act 2002.
This is a format where information is written in plain English and short sentences.
The IOPC must be notified about specific types of complaint or incidents to be able to decide how they should be dealt with.
No further action may be taken with regard to a complaint if the complainant decides to retract their allegation(s).
Casework involves assessing appeals. Casework staff also have a role in overseeing the police complaints system to help ensure police forces handle complaints in the best possible way.
Disapplication means that a police force may handle a complaint in whatever way it thinks fit, including not dealing with it under complaints legislation. This may only happen in certain circumstances where the complaint fits one or more of the grounds for disapplication set out in law.
Conduct includes acts, omissions, statements and decisions (whether actual, alleged or inferred). For example: language used and the manner or tone of communications.
You can request a review/appeal if you’re not satisfied with how your complaint has been handled.
You can request a review/appeal if you’re not satisfied with how your complaint has been handled.

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Preface First

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Preface Second

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Content

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Police Complaints Statistics for England and Wales 2020/21 (Experimental statistics)

Contents

Introduction

The Policing and Crime Act 2017 and supporting regulations made significant changes to the police complaints and disciplinary systems. These changes were designed to achieve a simpler, more proportionate and customer-focused complaints system focusing on learning and improvement. The changes were implemented on 1 February 2020.

Alongside changes to complaints legislation, new recording guidance was issued to improve how information about complaints is recorded. These changes aim to make complaints data more meaningful.

This report presents figures on complaints about the police in England and Wales for the financial year 2020/21. It presents different data from previous annual complaints reports due to the changes in legislation and recording practice.

A police complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction by a member of the public about the service they have received from a police force. Police forces and local policing bodies deal with the majority of complaints themselves. The IOPC set the standards for complaints handling through our Statutory Guidance 2020.

Our Statutory Guidance helps local policing bodies and forces achieve high standards in handling complaints about those serving with the police, and to comply with their legal obligations. The IOPC also oversees the complaints system and investigates the most serious and sensitive cases, as well as carrying out some reviews of complaints.

The first stage of complaint handling is for the relevant police force or local policing body to decide how it will handle the complaint. The reforms allow for certain types of complaints to be resolved informally, while also allowing more flexibility in the handling of formal complaints. This allows the police to better meet the needs of the complainant, and quickly make improvements based on the complaints they handle.

A person can request a review if they are unhappy with the way their complaint was handled or the final outcome. In some instances, this review will be carried out by the IOPC. Other reviews are handled by local policing bodies (Police and Crime Commissioners and Mayors).

This is the first year of reporting on the changes to the complaints system and therefore, these statistics should be considered experimental1.

Most of the data referred to in this report was recorded on police force IT systems and collected by the IOPC. Police forces updated their systems at different times, and it will take time for those inputting data to develop their understanding.

Given the significant changes to the complaints system it would not be meaningful to compare this complaints data to that of previous years.

We have issued police forces with guidance which sets out how we expect them to record the data we collect. Therefore, the consistency of the data we report relies on police forces applying our guidance correctly when they record data.

Our guidance on how police forces should record data about complaints under the Police Reform Act 2002, as amended by the Policing and Crime Act 2017, is available on our website: www.policeconduct.gov.uk

Formal and informal handling of complaints

Formal and informal Police Complaints - System Diagram Expanded

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Findings

Initial handling of complaints and how long it takes

Complaint cases logged

Significant change has been made to the complaints system in this area, widening the definition of a complaint to make the system more accessible. This means many more complaints will now be logged than in previous years.

The definition of a police complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction by a member of the public about the service they have received from a police force. All expressions of dissatisfaction must be logged. Some dissatisfaction, which does not meet the criteria for recording a complaint under Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002 (PRA 2002), may be resolved quickly to the satisfaction of the complainant. Other expressions of dissatisfaction must be recorded.

  • In 2020/21, police forces and local policing bodies logged 67,732 complaint cases (table 1).
  • Forces took, on average, six working days to log complaints from the date the complaint was made.
  • Most forces (29) logged complaints in five working days or fewer. Of the 15 forces that took more than five working days, seven had logged more than 1,500 complaints.

There are considerable differences in the size of police forces across England and Wales. This impacts the number of complaint cases logged by forces. Direct comparison of the number of complaint cases across forces would not take into account these size variations.

A complaint cases rate per 1,000 police force employees is used to provide a meaningful comparison of complaints logged across forces.

  • In 2020/21, 290 complaint cases per 1,000 employees across all forces were logged.
  • Complaint case rates per 1,000 employees ranged from 131 in North Yorkshire Police to 805 in Cleveland Police.2 The average nationally was 290 per 1,000 employees (table 2).

Time taken to contact the complainant

When handling complaints, the body responsible must contact the complainant and seek their views about how the complaint should be handled. This should happen as soon as possible after the complaint is made.

  • In 2020/21, forces took an average of seven working days from the date the complaint was made to contact the complainant.
  • The time forces took to contact complainants ranged from an average of one day in Cheshire Constabulary to 24 days in West Midlands Police (table 3).

Recording complaints

The new reforms allow for certain complaints to be handled informally. Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002 sets out legal requirements for police complaint handling.

A complaint does not need to be formally recorded under Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002 if it can be resolved quickly and to the satisfaction of the complainant. Even if attempts are made to initially handle the complaint outside of the requirements of Schedule 3, it may later be recorded and handled under Schedule 3 of the PRA 2002. Information about recording complaints is available in Chapter 6 of our Statutory Guidance (2020).

There are four reasons why a complaint must be recorded under Schedule 3:

- the complainant wants it to be recorded
- the nature of the allegation(s) mean it must be recorded
- the appropriate authority/body responsible for initial handling decides it is appropriate
- complainant is dissatisfied following informal handling

  • A total of 36,365 complaint cases logged in 2020/21 were subsequently recorded under Schedule 3 of the PRA 2002 (table 4).
  • In 42% (15,225) of cases, the body responsible for the initial handling of the complaint decided it should be recorded.
  • Just over a third (34%, 12,440) of complaints were recorded because the complainant wanted it to be recorded.
  • 16% (5,811) of complaint cases were recorded due to the nature of the allegations made.
  • In 8% (2,889) of cases, the complainant was dissatisfied with the informal handling and requested their complaint be recorded.

Figure 1: Reasons complaint cases recorded under Schedule 3 in 2020/21.

Figure 1: Reasons complaint cases recorded under Schedule 3 in 2020/21

What complaints were about

A complaint case may include one or more allegations. Each allegation is allocated to one of 11 categories and a subcategory if applicable. The purpose of the categories is to capture the root of the dissatisfaction expressed in a complaint.

  • In 2020/21, 109,151 allegations were logged (table 5).
  • The five most commonly logged allegation categories in 2020/21 were:
    • delivery of duties and service
    • police powers, policies and procedures
    • individual behaviours
    • discriminatory behaviour
    • handling of or damage to property/premises

These five categories account for 93% of all allegations logged (figure 2).

  • The most common allegation was logged under the ‘delivery of duties and service’ category. This category accounted for almost half (48%) of all the allegations logged in 2020/21.

Figure 2: Allegations logged in 2020/21 by category.

Figure 2: Allegations logged in 2020/21 by category

Who is making the complaints and who are subject to them?

Who is making the complaints?

In 2020/21, 62,606 people complained about the police.

  • Most complainants were men (55%, 34,268) (table 8).
  • Where known, most complainants were White (47%, 29,422). It should be noted the ethnicity of 41% (25,890) of complainants was either not stated or unknown (table 9).
  • The most common age groups to complain about the police were those aged 30 to 39 years (20%, 12,614 complainants), closely followed by those aged 40 to 49 years (18%, 11,311). The people who complained least commonly were aged 17 or under. However, caution is advised when looking at the breakdown by age owing to 20% of complainants (12,499) whose age is unknown (table 10).

Who is being complained about?

In 2020/21, 38,982 people serving with the police were subject to a complaint.

  • 67% (26,108) of those complained about were male and 32% (12,389) were female (table 11).
  • Most people subject to a complaint were White (81%, 31,768). However, caution is advised when looking at the breakdown by ethnicity due to the number of subjects (12%, 4,797) with unknown or not stated ethnicity (table 12).

Time taken to informally handle a complaint and the outcomes

Informal complaint handling provides an opportunity to address promptly the concerns a complainant has raised. The key consideration is whether a course of action is appropriate and whether it will be an effective response to a complaint.

Allegations finalised

An allegation is considered finalised when the complainant is notified about the outcome of the allegation (a decision) and any planned action.

  • In 2020/21, police forces finalised 32,012 allegations on complaint cases that were handled informally (table 13).
  • On average, these allegations took 20 working days to finalise (table 14).

Allegation decisions

Where a complaint case is handled informally, the allegation decision will be: ‘resolved’ or ‘not resolved’ (table 18).

  • In 2020/21, 94% of allegations handled informally were resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant.
  • The remaining 6% could not be resolved and will either have been recorded under Schedule 3 or withdrawn by the complainant.

Complaint cases finalised

A complaint case is finalised when all actions relating to that case are complete.

  • In 2020/21, 28,202 complaint cases were finalised informally (table 19).
  • These complaint cases took an average of 25 working days to finalise. This is longer than the 20 working days taken to handle allegations as it includes the time to complete all the actions on the case (table 20).

Actions

Any actions taken in response to the allegation are recorded; multiple actions can be recorded for each allegation.

  • The most common action resulting from complaints handled informally was an explanation. 41% of complaint cases finalised resulted in an explanation being given to the complainant (table 21).
  • 31% of complaint cases finalised informally had at least one allegation resulting in no further action.
  • Different types of learning can be selected as the outcome of complaints. This include; organisational learning, individual learning and learning from reflection. This totalled 5% of the outcomes. Actions such as providing an apology or conducting a debrief accounted for a further 9%. Therefore, some sort of learning/reflective activity accounted for the outcome in 14% of cases.

Time taken to formally handle a complaint and the outcomes

All complaints recorded formally should be handled in a reasonable and proportionate manner. This may mean:

  • an investigation
  • otherwise responding to concerns raised and seeking to resolve them
  • notifying the complainant no further action will be taken

Allegations finalised

An allegation is considered finalised when the complainant is notified about the outcome of the allegation (a decision) and any planned action.

  • In 2020/21, police forces finalised 51,738 allegations on complaint cases handled formally (table 13).

Allegations handled by investigation

If an allegation is investigated, the investigation will fall into one of three types: local, directed, or independent. Please see the Glossary for an explanation of the different forms of investigation.

If at any time during an investigation, the investigating officer thinks a person complained about may have

- committed a criminal offence; or
- behaved in a manner which would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings

the investigation must be certified as subject to special procedures (see explanation of ‘special procedures’ in the Glossary).

  • In 2020/21, 13% of the 51,738 allegations handled under Schedule 3 were investigated.
  • Just over 10% of those (688 out of 6,533) were finalised by investigations subject to special procedures.
  • The proportion of investigated allegations ranged from 2% in Staffordshire Police, Cheshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police to 50% in Warwickshire Police (this excludes six forces with fewer than ten allegations finalised by investigation and the British Transport Police who came under the new legislation from 4 January 2021).
  • The majority of allegations finalised by investigation in 2020/21 (99%, 6,496) had been investigated by police forces. These investigations took an average of just under five months (106 working days) for forces to complete (table 14).

Allegations handled otherwise than by investigation

Most allegations will not need a full investigation to reach a conclusion and a decision.

  • In 2020/21, the majority (87%) of allegations handled formally were finalised otherwise than by investigation.
  • On average, these allegations took forces 57 working days to finalise (table 14).

Allegation decisions

The allegation decision reflects how it has been handled. The decisions available for allegations handled formally depends on whether it has been investigated or not (table 18).

  • It was found there was a case to answer for misconduct or gross misconduct in 20% of allegations investigated subject to special procedures.
  • 59% of allegations investigated subject to special procedures found no case to answer for misconduct or gross misconduct.
  • Almost 2% found that the service provided was not acceptable.
  • The remaining 19% of allegations investigated subject to special procedures found that either the service was acceptable or no further action was taken or the complaint was withdrawn.
  • It was found the service provided was acceptable in almost three quarters (73%) of allegations investigated where special procedures did not apply.
  • Of the 45,205 allegations finalised formally that were not investigated, the majority (66%) found the service provided was acceptable.

Complaint cases finalised

A complaint case is considered finalised when all actions relating to that case are complete.

This includes:

- the time during which an application to review can be made
- the time it takes to deal with a review
- the time it takes for actions resulting from a recommendation or direction, made either following an investigation or consideration of a review, to be completed
- the time for the actions arising from a reflective practice review process (RPRP) meeting to be communicated to the complainant or their representative
- the time it takes for misconduct and/or criminal proceedings to conclude
- the time for initial outcomes of unsatisfactory performance procedures to be decided

In 2020/21, 23,243 complaint cases were finalised formally.

  • It took an average of 73 working days to finalise complaint cases formally in 2020/21.
  • The average time forces took to finalise complaint cases ranged from 37 in Cheshire Constabulary to 119 working days in Gwent Police3 (table 20).

Actions

  • Of the 23,243 complaint cases handled formally in 2020/21, more than half (57%) had at least one allegation resulting in no further action being taken (table 22).
  • 18 complaint cases had at least one allegation resulting in either a misconduct meeting or hearing (table 22).
  • 7% of complaint cases had at least one allegation resulting in learning for either the individual or the police force (table 22).
  • 4% (815) of complaint cases handled formally had at least one allegation resulting in a referral to RPRP and 2% (516) resulted in learning from reflection for an individual (table 22).
  • 5% of complaint cases had at least one allegation resulting in either an apology or debrief taking place (table 22).

Reviews

The complainant has a right to apply for a review where a complaint has been recorded under Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002. They can apply for a review if they are unhappy with the way their complaint was handled, or with the final outcome.

The application for review will be considered by the local policing body or the IOPC. The relevant review body depends on the circumstances of the complaint. The relevant review body will look at whether the handling and the outcome of the complaint was reasonable and proportionate.

There is no right of review against a complaint handled informally outside of Schedule 3. If the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome given to them, they can request the complaint be recorded and handled formally. This will bring it inside the scope of Schedule 3 and, when the complaint is finalised, the complainant will get a right of review to the relevant review body.

Local policing body (LPB) reviews

In 2020/21, LPBs received 4,346 applications from complainants requesting a review of how their complaint had been handled or its final outcome (table 23).

  • The number of reviews LPBs received following complaints that had not been investigated was 3,224.
  • The number of reviews received following complaints that had been investigated was 1,122.

Outcome of LPB reviews

  • In 2020/21, 15% of reviews about complaints that were not investigated, found the complaint outcome was not reasonable and proportionate.
  • The proportion of reviews that found the outcome was not reasonable and proportionate varied considerably across police forces from 0% in four forces to 48% in Wiltshire Police (this excludes two forces with fewer than ten completed reviews) (table 24).
  • 19% (105 out of 557) of the investigation reviews completed by LPBs found the complaint outcome was not reasonable and proportionate.
  • LPBs for seven forces completed ten or more reviews of police force investigations. The proportion that found the outcome was not reasonable and proportionate ranged from 0% in North Yorkshire to 38% in Warwickshire Police (table 24).

IOPC reviews

In 2020/21, the IOPC received 969 applications to review complaints dealt with by police forces (table 25).

  • In 2020/21, the IOPC received 491 applications to review complaints not investigated by police forces.
  • The number of reviews received following complaints that had been investigated was 478.

Outcome of IOPC reviews

  • In 2020/21, the IOPC found the outcome in 32% of complaints that had not been investigated was not reasonable and proportionate (table 26).
  • 32% (88 out of 271) of the investigation reviews completed by the IOPC found the complaint outcome was not reasonable and proportionate (table 26).

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Discussion

The main body of the report explains that these statistics are experimental due to the significant changes to the complaints system, police forces updating their systems at different times and time it will take to develop understanding of the changes. Therefore, any analysis and discussion of the statistics is currently limited. In future years, with more data and experience, more analysis can be undertaken to draw out more learning and improvements from the complaints that are made.

Numbers of complaints, and what is being complained about?

As expected, following changes to the definition of a complaint and the removal of considerations around whether complaints are eligible to be recorded, the volume of complaints has increased significantly. The changes aimed to make access to the complaints system easier and ensure that all dissatisfaction with the police was documented. Given those changes, it would not be meaningful to compare the volume of complaints reported in 2020/21 with previous years.

New recording guidance was also introduced, including new categories to document the nature of complaints. The largest number of complaints were identified as relating to ‘delivery of duties and service’. This covers police action after contact with the public and the general level of service the police offer. Typically, these types of complaints could be about property not being returned or a member of the public not being given a regular update on progress after reporting a crime. Many of these complaints were dealt with informally.

The next two largest categories of complaints are more complex. They arose from situations when police are using powers, such as use of force, arrest, detention and stop and search – and of individual behaviours such as unprofessional attitude, impolite tone and language, and lack of fairness or impartiality. These types of complaints can vary greatly in seriousness.

Who is making complaints and who is being complained about?

There are considerable gaps in recording demographic data, in particular the ethnicity and age of complainants as well as those being complained about. This is significant. Evidence shows that people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and young people, have less confidence in the police. Without this data, it is impossible to draw any meaningful insight about complaints received from these groups and how they were handled.

Handling and outcomes of informal complaints

Complaints that are handled informally should be dealt with flexibly, with customer contact and understanding at the heart of how the matter is handled. These complaints should be dealt with quickly – usually within a few days. Contact with the complainant was made on average within seven days of the complaint being made and cases took an average of 25 days to complete. 94% of these complaints did not go on to be formally recorded so it appears that the majority were resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction.

Aside from no further action, the most common outcome was that complainants were offered an explanation. Only 14% resulted in some sort of learning or reflective practice. Given the volume of cases, it is likely there are more opportunities to learn and improve the service to the public from this type of complaint.

Handling and outcomes of formal complaints

Of those cases handled formally, only 13% were subject to formal investigations. Investigations are more likely to feature allegations of abuse of position, discreditable conduct, and sexual conduct allegations. It took forces an average of 106 days to complete a complaint investigation. It is expected this figure will fluctuate over time as older cases are closed that have not featured in this data set. However, this does demonstrate improved timeliness compared to complaint investigations under the previous legislation (which took on average 151 days).

The remaining 87% of cases handled formally, were assessed as not requiring a full investigation to reach a conclusion and outcomes. These cases should be handled more quickly and with good customer engagement. These cases took, on average, 57 days to complete. Under the previous legislation, forces could locally resolve cases. In 2019/20, local resolution cases took an average of 73 days to complete.

Of those cases completed in 2020/21, 18 resulted in a finding of a case to answer for misconduct or gross misconduct. In 19% of cases a learning or reflective activity was identified as an outcome. Only 4% of cases resulted in a referral for the Reflective Practice Review Process. Given these cases are likely to be the more serious allegations, it is envisaged these figures may increase with time as the legislative reforms are embedded and as more cases are closed. It is likely that some of these more serious allegations will not have been closed within the 12-month period of this report.

Reviews

A complainant can request a review if they are not satisfied with how their complaint was handled. Under the previous system, there were three different appeal rights, including an appeal against a decision not to record a complaint. This appeal type no longer exists as all expressions of dissatisfaction must be documented and handled reasonably and proportionality.

Replacing several different appeal types with one overarching review has reduced the numbers of reviews by about 1,000 in comparison to appeals under the old system. The nature of the complaint determines whether the review should be handled by the local policing body or the IOPC.

In 2020/21, local policing bodies received more reviews than chief officers did under the old system and the IOPC received fewer reviews. More than 1,000 reviews to the local policing bodies were because the complainant was dissatisfied with a formal complaint investigation. If a matter is serious enough to warrant an investigation, it often follows that it has reached a level that determines the IOPC as the review body. These figures highlight that more work is needed to understand where it is a result of a misunderstanding/misapplication of the Relevant Review Body (RRB), or some other reason.


Data considerations

This is the first year reporting on the new complaints legislation so it is worth highlighting not all complaints logged will have been finalised in the same financial year.

The flexibility in the new system means there will be different ways to handle complaints in a reasonable and proportionate manner. Some forces will choose to handle matters in a different way to other forces. Furthermore, there will be a settling in period for police force Professional Standards Departments to get familiar with the new complaints system.

Data about complaints handled outside of Schedule 3 to the PRA 2002 by Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Hertfordshire Constabulary and Northumbria Police is not included in this report because of technical issues. The IOPC is working with these forces to make sure reporting of these complaint cases is possible in the future.

The British Transport Police only came under the new reforms from 4 January 2021 and this report only presents information about the complaints handled under the new regime.

Hampshire Constabulary only started capturing information about complaints handled outside of Schedule 3 from 1 February 2021.

Allegations handled under Schedule 3 and investigated not subject to special procedures may be under-represented in this report, instead grouping some of these allegations as finalised under Schedule 3 and not investigated. This is because police forces were not able to collect this data consistently and accurately on their systems until the implementation of an upgrade from November 2020.

Allegations finalised by directed investigations are being included under ‘local investigation’. The IOPC is working with force IT suppliers to make sure reporting on this is possible in the future.


Statistical notes

- In the percentage columns presented in the following tables, ‘-’ denotes no data and ‘0’ denotes less than 0.5%.
- Some percentages may add up to more or less than 100% due to rounding.
- Average times are presented as working days and do not include weekends or bank holidays.
- Complaint cases and allegations with invalid start/end dates have been removed from average time calculations. Therefore, the numbers of complaint cases and allegations used in the average time calculations may be lower than the total number of complaint cases and allegations finalised.

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Data tables

Table 1: Number of complaint cases logged in 2020/21

Police forceNumber of complaint cases
Avon and Somerset1,984
Bedfordshire370
British Transport158
Cambridgeshire343
Cheshire1,719
City of London*570
Cleveland1,666
Cumbria912
Derbyshire1,152
Devon and Cornwall1,619
Dorset793
Durham993
Dyfed-Powys739
Essex1,778
Gloucestershire1,097
Greater Manchester2,161
Gwent712
Hampshire1,517
Hertfordshire496
Humberside1,406
Kent3,593
Lancashire1,330
Leicestershire916
Lincolnshire1,045
Merseyside1,842
Metropolitan8,375
Norfolk580
North Wales650
North Yorkshire405
Northamptonshire861
Northumbria1,322
Nottinghamshire1,089
South Wales1,886
South Yorkshire941
Staffordshire1,322
Suffolk401
Surrey2,221
Sussex3,304
Thames Valley2,960
Warwickshire680
West Mercia1,495
West Midlands4,102
West Yorkshire3,234
Wiltshire993
Total67,732

* The figures for City of London include complaint cases logged in relation to ‘Action Fraud’. Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. The service is run by the City of London Police, which is the national policing lead for economic crime.

Table 2: Number of complaint cases logged per 1,000 employees in 2020/21

Police forceNumber of complaint casesNumber of employees*Complaint cases per 1,000 employees
Avon and Somerset1,9846,031329
Bedfordshire3702,494148
British Transport1584,92532
Cambridgeshire3432,725126
Cheshire1,7194,000430
City of London5701,287443
Cleveland1,6662,070805
Cumbria9122,051445
Derbyshire1,1523,661315
Devon and Cornwall1,6196,225260
Dorset7932,775286
Durham9932,241443
Dyfed-Powys7392,124348
Essex1,7786,160289
Gloucestershire1,0972,543431
Greater Manchester2,16111,406189
Gwent7122,225320
Hampshire1,5175,152294
Hertfordshire4964,274116
Humberside1,4063,586392
Kent3,5936,971515
Lancashire1,3305,849227
Leicestershire9163,952232
Lincolnshire1,0451,855563
Merseyside1,8426,196297
Metropolitan8,37545,592184
Norfolk5803,176183
North Wales6502,918223
North Yorkshire4053,103131
Northamptonshire8612,510343
Northumbria1,3225,164256
Nottinghamshire1,0893,723293
South Wales1,8865,830323
South Yorkshire9415,081185
Staffordshire1,3223,374392
Suffolk4012,429165
Surrey2,2213,881572
Sussex3,3045,448606
Thames Valley2,9608,748338
Warwickshire6802,015337
West Mercia1,4954,308347
West Midlands4,10210,927375
West Yorkshire3,23410,093320
Wiltshire9932,388416
Total67,732233,486290

* “Number of employees” is taken from the Home Office publication Police Workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2020.

Table 3: Time taken to log complaints and contact complainants in 2020/21

Police forceAverage days to log complaintsAverage number of days to contact complainants
Avon and Somerset34
Bedfordshire63
British Transport75
Cambridgeshire43
Cheshire11
City of London15
Cleveland15
Cumbria25
Derbyshire125
Devon and Cornwall1515
Dorset36
Durham115
Dyfed-Powys46
Essex53
Gloucestershire33
Greater Manchester54
Gwent157
Hampshire610
Hertfordshire24
Humberside42
Kent136
Lancashire15
Leicestershire34
Lincolnshire42
Merseyside39
Metropolitan75
Norfolk28
North Wales16
North Yorkshire127
Northamptonshire22
Northumbria24
Nottinghamshire53
South Wales23
South Yorkshire1616
Staffordshire810
Suffolk29
Surrey66
Sussex86
Thames Valley1722
Warwickshire22
West Mercia54
West Midlands424
West Yorkshire55
Wiltshire33
Total67

Table 4: Reasons complaint cases recorded under Schedule 3 in 2020/21

Police forceNature of allegation(s)Body responsible for initial handling decidesComplainant wishes the complaint to be recordedDissatisfaction after initial handlingTotal recorded under Schedule 3
 N%N%N%N% 
Avon and Somerset4253937935244223941,087
Bedfordshire15341681827712233370
British Transport12184974005866
Cambridgeshire13539772223710831343
Cheshire104154085992139213696
City of London135257934121276
Cleveland1338019234568921416
Cumbria731345945204118227
Derbyshire3663726585157914572
Devon and Cornwall22374687243668858
Dorset501328175308123373
Durham5110931195564212351
Dyfed-Powys7919226559222164413
Essex701,34993896501,450
Gloucestershire4310286643888318450
Greater Manchester1247484271,0816011761,806
Gwent221342122702615174
Hampshire6774557337414415989
Hertfordshire27455428741510621496
Humberside00201,25799501,264
Kent8095646345520923898
Lancashire82142173654925342606
Leicestershire151215447751101710
Lincolnshire284456592823741770
Merseyside1346822892913544305
Metropolitan1,075152,616373,335472307,049
Norfolk195932523062277369
North Wales13748101353312155286
North Yorkshire211625493314314300
Northamptonshire222411051918233387547
Northumbria741567156943501,322
Nottinghamshire4883826019230122634
South Wales272203321,027761811,350
South Yorkshire32442357193269513743
Staffordshire31733678316315433
Suffolk177883413653187259
Surrey581063112504320435575
Sussex1911,320971211411,365
Thames Valley2111,53275421215632,030
Warwickshire2917321881463319175
West Mercia9215229288557815527
West Midlands511652161023211536320
West Yorkshire98862148929018161101,587
Wiltshire9518333633976112528
Total5,8111615,2254212,440342,889836,365

Table 5: Number of allegations logged in 2020/21

Police forceNumber of allegations
Avon and Somerset3,309
Bedfordshire860
British Transport189
Cambridgeshire811
Cheshire2,331
City of London*647
Cleveland2,175
Cumbria1,306
Derbyshire1,848
Devon and Cornwall3,531
Dorset980
Durham1,191
Dyfed-Powys1,022
Essex4,133
Gloucestershire1,934
Greater Manchester3,581
Gwent1,316
Hampshire2,553
Hertfordshire1,720
Humberside2,097
Kent4,497
Lancashire2,325
Leicestershire1,865
Lincolnshire1,374
Merseyside2,506
Metropolitan17,135
Norfolk1,229
North Wales1,121
North Yorkshire707
Northamptonshire1,302
Northumbria2,655
Nottinghamshire2,353
South Wales2,585
South Yorkshire1,640
Staffordshire1,968
Suffolk829
Surrey3,670
Sussex4,393
Thames Valley4,181
Warwickshire788
West Mercia1,617
West Midlands4,407
West Yorkshire4,909
Wiltshire1,561
Total109,151

* The figures for City of London include complaint cases logged in relation to ‘Action Fraud’. Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. The service is run by the City of London Police, which is the national policing lead for economic crime.

Table 6: Number of allegations logged - what has been complained about in 2020/21

Police forceDelivery of duties and servicePolice powers, policies and proceduresHandling of or damage to property/ premisesAccess and/or disclosure of informationUse of police vehiclesDiscriminatory behaviourAbuse of position/ corruptionIndividual behavioursSexual conductDiscreditable conductOtherTotal
Avon and Somerset1,5926188479491819156893173,309
Bedfordshire280261312247017165073860
British Transport2531511100733139189
Cambridgeshire281259243423518148253811
Cheshire1,24337884682748564171542,331
City of London485571113113372433647
Cleveland966466117892224644004412,175
Cumbria566318422222256199151001,306
Derbyshire92542085421325213032661,848
Devon and Cornwall1,94343510367307733805214223,531
Dorset3772073236163142611411980
Durham677191283117131918103311,191
Dyfed-Powys541178344011251716101231,022
Essex1,9517841401183014591830920154,133
Gloucestershire837414723927562544324151,934
Greater Manchester1,5167801169420191417212064183,581
Gwent7032452729723924215251,316
Hampshire1,31852173531474323591614792,553
Hertfordshire539472446551346236842521,720
Humberside955467707732515534412432,097
Kent2,59474111311434166364272192514,497
Lancashire1,164479645327472842167292,325
Leicestershire78029466582875674865151,865
Lincolnshire65428233602513382530971,374
Merseyside1,11659012666434429436212422,506
Metropolitan7,8604,894471323126692992,081319246617,135
Norfolk5072624751435452711511,229
North Wales4972352151132360178313271,121
North Yorkshire28818715213167164024707
Northamptonshire67924433471348321913121,302
Northumbria7818471071444098884841621292,655
Nottinghamshire1,653370404615462194220462,353
South Wales1,11549912874197650588915122,585
South Yorkshire854401385454792242511,640
Staffordshire912436595129332839421681,968
Suffolk328173293342814210181829
Surrey1,6626431697559672594738123,670
Sussex2,3358769058588423743627934,393
Thames Valley2,00481422311744187286073311234,181
Warwickshire492901621131421180319788
West Mercia9762633333185311195113211,617
West Midlands2,19984818410354233536151034744,407
West Yorkshire2,53097715313558341102563163044,909
Wiltshire6004217350204918290119201,561
Total52,30023,3683,5532,8451,1043,7641,49018,0731996481,807109,151

Table 7: Number of allegations logged - what has been complained about and subcategories in 2020/21

Allegation categoryAllegation subcategoryN% of total allegations logged
Delivery of duties and servicePolice action following contact23,15521
Decisions7,5247
General level of service16,61215
Information5,0065
No subcategory recorded30
Police powers, policies and
procedures
Stops, and stop and search2,2752
Searches of premises and seizure of property3,1683
Power to arrest and detain3,4073
Detention in police custody3,1763
Bail, identification and interview procedures7021
Use of force6,7526
Evidential procedures1,2121
Out of court disposals3110
Other policies and procedures2,3622
No subcategory recorded30
Handling of or damage to property/ premisesHandling of or damage to property/ premises3,5413
Delivery of duties and service10
No subcategory recorded110
Access and/or disclosure of
information
Use of police systems2330
Disclosure of information1,8982
Handling of information6011
Accessing and handling of information from other sources1130
Use of police vehiclesUse of police vehicles1,0991
No subcategory recorded50
Discriminatory
behaviour
Age580
Disability4870
Gender reassignment350
Marriage and civil partnership40
Pregnancy and maternity50
Race2,3752
Religion or belief910
Sex3400
Sexual orientation920
Other2770
Abuse of position/ corruptionAbuse of position for financial purpose530
Abuse of position for sexual purpose520
Abuse of position for the purpose of pursuing an inappropriate emotional relationship350
Abuse of position for other purpose4940
Obstruction of justice6661
Organisational corruption1900
Individual behavioursUnprofessional attitude and disrespect4,6874
Lack of fairness and impartiality2,9543
Overbearing or harassing behaviours3,4193
Impolite language / tone4,6454
Impolite and intolerant actions2,3672
Other neglect or failure in duty10
Sexual conductSexual assault1280
Sexual harassment230
Other sexual conduct480
Discreditable conductDiscreditable conduct6451
No subcategory recorded30
OtherOther1,8042
No subcategory recorded30
Total 109,151100

Table 8: Gender of complainants in 2020/21

GenderN%
Female25,30440
Male34,26855
Other1060
Prefer not to say4631
Unknown2,4654
Total62,606100

Table 9: Ethnicity of complainants in 2020/21

EthnicityN%
White29,42247
Black2,4984
Asian3,1075
Other1,6893
Prefer not to say2,0193
Not stated22,86937
Unknown1,0022
Total62,606100

Table 10: Age of complainants in 2020/21

Age groupN%
17 or under9181
18-299,94316
30-3912,61420
40-4911,31118
50-599,53715
60+5,7849
Unknown12,49920
Total62,606100

Tables 8 to 10: Complainants are only counted once in these tables regardless of how many complaints they have made throughout the year.

Table 11: Gender of those subject to a complaint in 2020/21

GenderN%
Female12,38932
Male26,10867
Other00
Prefer not to say20
Unknown4741
Total38,982100

Table 12: Ethnicity of those subject to a complaint in 2020/21

EthnicityN%
White31,76881
Black4951
Asian1,1493
Other7362
Prefer not to say370
Not stated1,6884
Unknown3,1098
Total38,982100

Tables 11 and 12: Subjects are only counted once in these tables, regardless of how many complaints they have been subject to in the year.

Table 13: Means by which allegations were finalised in 2020/21

Police forceOutside of Schedule 3Under Schedule 3 - not investigatedUnder Schedule 3 - investigatedTotal
 N%N%N% 
Avon and Somerset1,060371,7115911442,885
Bedfordshiren/an/a4657218228647
British Transport737115151515103
Cambridgeshiren/an/a4477416026607
Cheshire998481,038502212,058
City of London2874434553254657
Cleveland1,3266960331001,929
Cumbria78467366311921,169
Derbyshire640417945110971,543
Devon and Cornwall996401,426578332,505
Dorset3684739350263787
Durham63960327319191,057
Dyfed-Powys283326106840897
Essex319122,0528020482,575
Gloucestershire7484686053911,617
Greater Manchester409171,930808232,421
Gwent7546922621111101,091
Hampshire413271,12373001,536
Hertfordshiren/an/a87669399311,275
Humberside15681,720888241,958
Kent2,418641,1603121563,793
Lancashire912441,093535122,056
Leicestershire264161,346806641,676
Lincolnshire27822914735441,246
Merseyside1,49569603285932,157
Metropolitan1,529156,688642,1832110,400
Norfolk3083554361404891
North Wales3683754054838991
North Yorkshire1192142774295575
Northamptonshire2902680773811,105
Northumbrian/an/a99351944491,937
Nottinghamshire595321,0985915891,851
South Wales571311,230673921,840
South Yorkshire28423864716651,214
Staffordshire1,04659702401411,762
Suffolk2133537360315617
Surrey1,736561,1393719863,073
Sussex1,789471,8674913233,788
Thames Valley889292,171705023,110
Warwickshire3797661126012500
West Mercia6115823422209201,054
West Midlands3,45990380102013,859
West Yorkshire1,634432,039548723,760
Wiltshire5724960651001,178
Total32,0123845,205546,533883,750

Table 14: Time taken to finalise allegations in 2020/21

Police forceAverage number of days to finalise allegations outside of Schedule 3Average number of days to finalise allegations - not investigated under Schedule 3Average number of days to finalise allegations - by local investigation under Schedule 3
Avon and Somerset104299
Bedfordshiren/a65147
British Transport61720
Cambridgeshiren/a56137
Cheshire103673
City of London734164
Cleveland1760-
Cumbria95154
Derbyshire55782
Devon and Cornwall286288
Dorset2041103
Durham866137
Dyfed-Powys2461103
Essex204470
Gloucestershire144133
Greater Manchester1162183
Gwent2491133
Hampshire770-
Hertfordshiren/a65126
Humberside62788
Kent196595
Lancashire1260110
Leicestershire1641106
Lincolnshire447109
Merseyside2470131
Metropolitan4976114
Norfolk315681
North Wales104080
North Yorkshire1974104
Northamptonshire1070117
Northumbrian/a5784
Nottinghamshire124165
South Wales250110
South Yorkshire325295
Staffordshire195842
Suffolk3055103
Surrey216885
Sussex1837119
Thames Valley136969
Warwickshire215880
West Mercia3146130
West Midlands3682158
West Yorkshire54254
Wiltshire3366-
Total2057106

Only allegations with valid dates are used in the calculation for the average number of days to finalise allegations.

Table 15: Allegations finalised by investigation under Schedule 3 in 2020/21

Police forceInvestigated
(not subject to special procedures)
Investigated
(subject to special procedures)
 N%N%
Avon and Somerset915231
Bedfordshire1782841
British Transport155000
Cambridgeshire1572630
Cheshire14181
City of London25700
Cleveland0000
Cumbria16431
Derbyshire1051240
Devon and Cornwall735101
Dorset26600
Durham7518164
Dyfed-Powys0041
Essex201930
Gloucestershire5140
Greater Manchester75470
Gwent1073241
Hampshire0000
Hertfordshire38030192
Humberside78440
Kent20415111
Lancashire313202
Leicestershire473191
Lincolnshire414131
Merseyside52871
Metropolitan1,839213444
Norfolk31592
North Wales801330
North Yorkshire20492
Northamptonshire0081
Northumbria91647281
Nottinghamshire14311151
South Wales37320
South Yorkshire445222
Staffordshire11230
Suffolk30710
Surrey18714111
Sussex1156171
Thames Valley392110
Warwickshire584822
West Mercia2044651
West Midlands15451
West Yorkshire80470
Wiltshire0000
Total5,845116881

Table 16: Nature of allegations finalised outside of Schedule 3 in 2020/21

Allegation categoryAllegation subcategoryNumber finalised
  N% of total allegations finalised
Delivery of duties and servicePolice action following contact8,57027
Decisions2,6428
General level of service6,55520
Information1,7085
No subcategory recorded20
Police powers, policies and proceduresStops, and stop and search5412
Searches of premises and seizure of property9063
Power to arrest and detain3821
Detention in police custody2851
Bail, identification and interview procedures800
Use of force4281
Evidential procedures2121
Out of court disposals1100
Other policies and procedures7472
No subcategory recorded10
Handling of or damage to
property/premises
Handling of or damage to property/premises1,3914
No subcategory recorded40
Access and/or disclosure of informationUse of police systems400
Disclosure of information3421
Handling of information1420
Accessing and handling of information from other sources160
Use of police vehiclesUse of police vehicles5572
Discriminatory behaviourAge140
Disability470
Gender reassignment20
Marriage and civil partnership10
Race2141
Religion or belief110
Sex300
Sexual orientation90
Other450
Abuse of position/corruptionAbuse of position for financial purpose30
Abuse of position for sexual purpose30
Abuse of position for the purpose of pursuing an inappropriate emotional relationship10
Abuse of position for other purpose300
Obstruction of justice200
Organisational corruption110
Individual behavioursUnprofessional attitude and disrespect1,2254
Lack of fairness and impartiality6052
Overbearing or harassing behaviours6602
Impolite language/tone1,7776
Impolite and intolerant actions6672
Sexual conductSexual assault60
Sexual harassment10
Discreditable conductDiscreditable conduct1000
No subcategory recorded10
OtherOther8673
No subcategory recorded10
Total allegations 32,012100

Table 17: Nature of allegations finalised under Schedule 3 by how they were handled in 2020/21

Allegation categoryAllegation subcategoryNot investigatedTotal investigatedTotal number of allegations finalised under Schedule 3
  N% of total
number finalised
under Schedule 3
N% of total
number finalised
under Schedule 3
Delivery of duties and servicePolice action following contact9,0709274789,817
Decisions3,1179228983,406
General level of service6,18489733116,917
Information2,0999315072,249
No subcategory recorded1100001
Police powers, policies and proceduresStops, and stop and search84876272241,120
Searches of premises and seizure of property1,32287201131,523
Power to arrest and detain1,53982339181,878
Detention in police custody1,51883309171,827
Bail, identification and interview procedures349884612395
Use of force2,95877885233,843
Evidential procedures5408013820678
Out of court disposals13091139143
Other policies and procedures99287146131,138
No subcategory recorded1100001
Handling of or damage to property/premisesHandling of or damage to property/ premises1,23386198141,431
Delivery of duties and service1100001
No subcategory recorded6100006
Access and/or disclosure of informationUse of police systems99772923128
Disclosure of information91785165151,082
Handling of information281864714328
Accessing and handling of information from other sources488491657
Use of police vehiclesUse of police vehicles352894311395
No subcategory recorded4100004
Discriminatory behaviourAge389041042
Disability231825118282
Gender reassignment199021021
Marriage and civil partnership0011001
Pregnancy and maternity1501502
Race1,08880272201,360
Religion or belief3976122451
Sex181882512206
Sexual orientation4476142458
Other127842516152
Abuse of
position/corruption
Abuse of position for financial purpose1966103429
Abuse of position for sexual purpose146483622
Abuse of position for the purpose of pursuing an inappropriate emotional relationship96064015
Abuse of position for other purpose272797121343
Obstruction of justice347894511392
Organisational corruption123881712140
Individual behavioursUnprofessional attitude and disrespect2,11288289122,401
Lack of fairness and impartiality1,46490170101,634
Overbearing or harassing behaviours1,67089209111,879
Impolite language / tone1,96390217102,180
Impolite and intolerant actions1,00190114101,115
Other neglect or failure in duty0011001
Sexual conductSexual assault5676182474
Sexual harassment98221811
Other sexual conduct1354114624
Discreditable conductDiscreditable conduct249767824327
No subcategory recorded2100002
OtherOther5048310117605
No subcategory recorded1100001
Total allegations 45,205876,5331351,738

Table 18: Decisions on allegations by how they were handled in 2020/21

Allegation decisionOutside of Schedule 3Under Schedule 3
– not investigated
Under Schedule
3 – investigated
(not subject to special procedures)
Under Schedule
3 – investigated
(subject to special procedures)
 N%N%N%N%
Not resolved1,9556      
Resolved30,04894      
Service provided - acceptable8029,644664,279739914
Service provided - not acceptable  5,1531156110101
Service provided - unable to determine  1,9064147341
No further action  6,2521457210101
Withdrawal  2,19152594243
Regulation 41 applies  55027020
No case to answer      40359
Case to answer      13620
Total 32,011 45,201 5,845 688 

The number of allegations presented in this table may not match the totals in Table 13. This is due to a small number of finalised allegations which had recorded decisions incompatible with the way they were handled. These have been excluded from the totals.

Table 19: Number of complaint cases finalised in 2020/21

Police forceOutside of
Schedule 3
Under
Schedule 3
Total number of complaint cases
 NNN
Avon And Somerset9068031,709
Bedfordshiren/a260260
British Transport731790
Cambridgeshiren/a241241
Cheshire9785821,560
City of London276281557
Cleveland1,2473451,592
Cumbria651186837
Derbyshire5724441,016
Devon And Cornwall589206795
Dorset340274614
Durham643234877
Dyfed-Powys274352626
Essex2628861,148
Gloucestershire626305931
Greater Manchester3621,2121,574
Gwent54594639
Hampshire390549939
Hertfordshiren/a350350
Humberside1401,1111,251
Kent2,3766653,041
Lancashire7094271,136
Leicestershire199582781
Lincolnshire278545823
Merseyside1,4232611,684
Metropolitan1,2383,4194,657
Norfolk198227425
North Wales366239605
North Yorkshire102139241
Northamptonshire281400681
Northumbrian/a920920
Nottinghamshire384501885
South Wales5158801,395
South Yorkshire224531755
Staffordshire8772941,171
Suffolk129176305
Surrey1,5404001,940
Sussex1,7629292,691
Thames Valley8651,3272,192
Warwickshire349104453
West Mercia582339921
West Midlands2,9702093,179
West Yorkshire1,5586722,230
Wiltshire403325728
Total28,20223,24351,445

Table 20: Time taken to finalise complaint cases in 2020/21

Police forceNumber of valid complaint cases finalised outside of Schedule 3*Average number of days to finalise outside of Schedule 3Number of valid complaint cases finalised under Schedule 3*Average number of days to finalise under Schedule 3 (inc suspension)Average number of days to finalise under Schedule 3
(exc suspension)
Avon and Somerset906108036362
Bedfordshiren/an/a2608888
British Transport7312171414
Cambridgeshiren/an/a2418482
Cheshire977115823736
City of London27682814140
Cleveland1247323459588
Cumbria65191865351
Derbyshire572214448585
Devon and Cornwall589322069490
Dorset340262746460
Durham643102347069
Dyfed-Powys274273528987
Essex262198866362
Gloucestershire626113056462
Greater Manchester3621212126564
Gwent5452494119118
Hampshire39065496868
Hertfordshiren/an/a3509695
Humberside140811115149
Kent2376296658787
Lancashire709134277473
Leicestershire199175826563
Lincolnshire27855457676
Merseyside1423252618381
Metropolitan12305434119190
Norfolk198382278174
North Wales366122395150
North Yorkshire10222139111111
Northamptonshire281124008383
Northumbrian/an/a9198180
Nottinghamshire384125015048
South Wales51548805958
South Yorkshire224375317271
Staffordshire877232947069
Suffolk129381768479
Surrey1540234006666
Sussex1762179296664
Thames Valley8651413277372
Warwickshire349281046968
West Mercia582333399796
West Midlands297058209106105
West Yorkshire155856727472
Wiltshire403343256767
Total28,1932523,2347372

*The number of complaint cases presented in this table are only those with valid dates that are used in the calculation for the average number of days to finalise complaint cases. Therefore they may not match the actual number of finalised complaint cases presented in Table 19.

Table 21: Actions on complaint cases handled outside of Schedule 3 in 2020/21

ActionNumberAs a % of complaint cases finalised
Organisational learning2351
Individual learning7223
Learning from reflection2051
Policy/procedure review540
Goodwill gesture1441
Apology2,0007
Debrief of original incident4702
Explanation provided11,61741
No further action8,79331

Actions are captured at allegation level and multiple actions can be selected on a single alleation. The figures in the table are based on complaint cases finalised in the year with at least one allegation that resulted in the corresponding action.

Not all of the available actions arising from the complaint handling are shown. The actions presented in the table are those that focus on putting the issue right and preventing it from happening again.

Table 22: Actions on complaint cases handled under Schedule 3 in 2020/21

ActionNumberAs a % of complaint cases finalised
Organisational learning4562
Individual learning1,2185
Learning from reflection5162
Policy/procedure review480
Goodwill gesture210
Apology8904
Debrief of original incident1831
Explanation provided5,60224
Referral to RPRP8154
Unsatisfactory Performance Procedure (UPP)60
Misconduct proceedings180
Other actions following a case to answer decision70
Criminal proceedings0-
Other action3411
No further action13,27957

Actions are captured at allegation level and multiple actions can be selected on a single alleation. The figures in the table are based on complaint cases finalised in the year with at least one allegation that resulted in the corresponding action.

Not all of the available actions arising from the complaint handling are shown. The actions presented in the table are those that focus on putting the issue right and preventing it from happening again.

Table 23: Applications for a review received by local policing bodies in 2020/21

Police forceLPB reviews –
not investigated
LPB reviews - investigationTotal LPB reviews received
 N%N%N
Avon and Somerset86518449170
Bedfordshire321000032
British Transport0-0-0
Cambridgeshire30913933
Cheshire69991170
City of London308651435
Cleveland67944671
Cumbria40981241
Derbyshire53915958
Devon and Cornwall124891611140
Dorset86964490
Durham311000031
Dyfed-Powys59925864
Essex1119822113
Gloucestershire541000054
Greater Manchester22610010227
Gwent1652154831
Hampshire14710000147
Hertfordshire39952541
Humberside92955597
Kent1199476126
Lancashire12310000123
Leicestershire941000094
Lincolnshire541000054
Merseyside368281844
Metropolitan1051654684651
Norfolk49981250
North Wales388851243
North Yorkshire37439346
Northamptonshire64935769
Northumbria57447356130
Nottinghamshire4782101857
South Wales1239575130
South Yorkshire1129911113
Staffordshire65935770
Suffolk24961425
Surrey1199832122
Sussex1959832198
Thames Valley1695414246311
Warwickshire1547175332
West Mercia2324747697
West Midlands2469113135
West Yorkshire1439575150
Wiltshire311000031
Total3,224741,122264,346

Table 24: Outcome of reviews completed by LPBs in 2020/21

Police forceLPB reviews – not investigatedLPB reviews - investigation
 Valid completedOutcome not
reasonable and
proportionate
Outcome not
reasonable and
proportionate
Valid completedOutcome not
reasonable and
proportionate
Outcome not
reasonable and
proportionate
 NN%NN%
Avon and Somerset801316802329
Bedfordshire292700-
British Transport00-00-
Cambridgeshire2600300
Cheshire3513100
City of London2510404125
Cleveland416154250
Cumbria3851300-
Derbyshire277263133
Devon and Cornwall6121346117
Dorset49816100
Durham250000-
Dyfed-Powys451329300
Essex1800100
Gloucestershire48102100-
Greater Manchester99252500-
Gwent11327900
Hampshire102101000-
Hertfordshire3339100
Humberside9124265120
Kent74577229
Lancashire564700-
Leicestershire392500-
Lincolnshire2531200-
Merseyside3210318338
Metropolitan5810171173227
Norfolk37616100
North Wales325162150
North Yorkshire1001200
Northamptonshire57611500
Northumbria4649651523
Nottinghamshire39923900
South Wales8512145120
South Yorkshire4924100
Staffordshire3925200
Suffolk2000100
Surrey1006600-
Sussex1541711300
Thames Valley674610544
Warwickshire1221713538
West Mercia1942168913
West Midlands213147343
West Yorkshire13922165120
Wiltshire21104800-
Total21053091555710519

Some reviews may be deemed ‘invalid’ and these have been excluded from the number of “valid completed” and the calculation for “% outcome not reasonable and proportionate”.

Some caution is advised when looking at the percentage of reviews that found the complaint case outcome was not reasonable and proportionate due to the sometimes small number of reviews involved.

Table 25: Applications for a review received by the IOPC in 2020/21

Police forceIOPC reviews – not investigatedIOPC reviews - investigationTotal
 N%N%N
Avon and Somerset320128015
Bedfordshire27279329
British Transport0-0-0
Cambridgeshire32597512
Cheshire85764314
City of London0021002
Cleveland1501502
Cumbria0-0-0
Derbyshire1146867
Devon and Cornwall2100002
Dorset2671333
Durham522187823
Dyfed-Powys201000020
Essex26299431
Gloucestershire5100005
Greater Manchester1558114226
Gwent0011001
Hampshire278451632
Hertfordshire414248628
Humberside1650165032
Kent1141165927
Lancashire166493625
Leicestershire168042020
Lincolnshire137642417
Merseyside2256758
Metropolitan904510855198
Norfolk177172924
North Wales218441625
North Yorkshire0021002
Northamptonshire5564449
Northumbria2838466274
Nottinghamshire836146422
South Wales217572528
South Yorkshire176883225
Staffordshire13931714
Suffolk96453614
Surrey941135922
Sussex0041004
Thames Valley0021002
Warwickshire0-0-0
West Mercia1501502
West Midlands2100002
West Yorkshire69624238111
Wiltshire77033010
Total4915147849969

Table 26: Outcome of reviews completed by the IOPC in 2020/21

Police forceLPB reviews – not investigatedIOPC reviews - investigation
Valid completedOutcome not
reasonable and
proportionate
Outcome not
reasonable and
proportionate
Valid completedOutcome not
reasonable and
proportionate
Outcome not
reasonable and
proportionate
NN%NN%
Avon and Somerset3133600
Bedfordshire10015427
British Transport00-00-
Cambridgeshire111004250
Cheshire4002150
City of London00-2150
Cleveland10011100
Cumbria00-00-
Derbyshire111003133
Devon and Cornwall20000-
Dorset100100
Durham425013538
Dyfed-Powys140000-
Essex215018528
Gloucestershire536000-
Greater Manchester1143622100
Gwent00-00-
Hampshire7457200
Hertfordshire50015640
Humberside1022011436
Kent72298225
Lancashire115455240
Leicestershire12325200
Lincolnshire1318400
Merseyside111005240
Metropolitan652234531732
Norfolk12542500
North Wales1553322100
North Yorkshire00-100
Northamptonshire221002150
Northumbria2063029517
Nottinghamshire95569222
South Wales142147114
South Yorkshire16163133
Staffordshire833811100
Suffolk7114200
Surrey62337114
Sussex00-00-
Thames Valley00-11100
Warwickshire00-00-
West Mercia10000-
West Midlands20000-
West Yorkshire542444281657
Wiltshire524022100
Total352111322718832

Some reviews may be deemed ‘invalid’ and these have been excluded from the number of “valid completed” and the calculation for “% outcome not reasonable and proportionate”.

Some caution is advised when looking at the percentage of reviews that found the complaint case outcome was not reasonable and proportionate due to the sometimes small number of reviews involved.

Back to top

Glossary

Allegation

This describes what is being complained about. An allegation is made by someone defined as a complainant under the Police Reform Act 2002 (see ‘complainant’). An allegation may be made by one or more complainants about the service they received from a police force. It may, for example, be about force-wide crime initiatives, the organisation of policing resources or general policing standards. However, it can also be about the conduct of any person serving with the police.

A complaint case may involve more than one allegation. For example, a person may allege that an officer pushed them and was rude to them. This would be logged as two separate allegations forming one complaint case. Each allegation is logged against a specific category (a full list of the allegation categories and their definitions can be found in the IOPC’s Guidance on capturing data about police complaints).

Appropriate authority

(Section 29, Police Reform Act 2002)

The organisation that is responsible for assessing how to deal with a complaint. For example – whether it can be handled locally or reaches the criteria for referral to the IOPC. The appropriate authority may be the chief officer of the police force or the Police and Crime Commissioner for the force. If a complaint investigation finds someone has a case to answer for misconduct, the appropriate authority is responsible for arranging any misconduct proceedings. If you make a complaint, the appropriate authority for your case will contact you.

Complainant

A person who makes a complaint about the conduct of someone serving with the police or about a police force. The law sets out the circumstances that need to exist for someone to make a complaint (see section 5.6 of the IOPC Statutory guidance on the police complaints system).

Complaint

A complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction raised by or on behalf of a member of the public to a police force. A complaint does not have to be made in writing and does not have to state explicitly that it is a complaint.

Complaint case

A complaint may involve more than one allegation. The allegation/s may be made by one or more complainants, against one or more persons serving with the police. ‘Complaint case’ refers to all the allegations and complainants connected with a complaint.

Directed investigation

An investigation conducted by the appropriate authority under the direction and control of the IOPC. The IOPC directs the investigation by appointing an investigator and setting out its scope and investigative strategy. The IOPC controls the investigation by reviewing the policy books, confirming the investigation has met the terms of reference and making the decisions at the end of the case.

Independent investigation

An investigation carried out by IOPC staff (Paragraph 19, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002).

An independent investigation is often used for the most serious incidents and/or those with the greatest public interest. For example, incidents that cause the greatest level of public concern, have a high potential to impact on communities, or have serious implications for the reputation of the police service.

Local investigation

An investigation carried out by the appropriate authority on its own behalf (Paragraph 16, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002).

Local policing body

The body responsible for all policing in their area. It holds the chief constable and the force to account. This is a collective term for:

  • Police and Crime Commissioners
  • the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (for the Metropolitan Police Service district)
  • the Common Council (for the City of London police area) (Section 101, Police Act 1996)

Reflective practice review process (RPRP)

This focuses on putting an issue right and preventing it from happening again by encouraging those involved to reflect on their actions and learn from them. It is not a disciplinary process or a disciplinary outcome.

Review

Where a complaint has been recorded under Schedule 3 to the Police Reform Act 2002, the complainant has a right to apply for a review of the outcome of the complaint. The review will consider whether the outcome of the handling of the complaint is reasonable and proportionate. It will uphold the review where the relevant review body finds that the outcome of the complaint is not reasonable and proportionate. This applies whether the complaint has been investigated or handled in another way.

Special procedures

Special procedures only apply to investigations of complaints about a member of a police force or a special constable. In the case of any other person, the investigator must adhere to the relevant policies and procedures for investigating allegations of any form of misconduct.

Investigators must apply special procedures:

  • in a complaint investigation, when there is an indication a person being investigated may have committed a criminal offence or behaved in a manner that would justify disciplinary proceedings
  • in all investigations into recordable conduct matters (Paragraph 19A, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002)

Unsatisfactory performance procedure (UPP)

A series of steps used to improve someone’s performance. It is used when a person was unable or failed to perform their role to a satisfactory level but did not breach the Standards of Professional Behaviour.

1 The Office for National Statistics describes these as ‘a series of statistics that are in a testing phase and not yet fully developed’.

2 Outliers have been removed from ranges. These are the British Transport Police, who began handling complaints under the Police Reform Act 2002 as amaneded by the Police and Crime Act 2017 from 4 January 2021, and Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Hertfordshire Constabulary, and Northumbria Police owing to technical issues with collecting complaints logged outside of Schedule 3 data.

3 Timeliness range excludes the British Transport Police, who began handling complaints under the Police Reform Act 2002 as amended by the Police and Crime Act 2017 from 4 January 2021.

To find out more about our work or to request this report in an alternative format, you can contact us in a number of ways:

Independent Office for Police Conduct
10 South Colonnade
Canary Wharf
London
E14 4PU

Tel: 030 0020 0096

Email: enquiries@policeconduct.gov.uk

Text relay: 18001 020 8104 1220

We welcome telephone calls in Welsh

Rydym yn croesawu galwadau ffôn yn y Gymraeg

ISBN 978-1-9161845-6-5

November 2021

An act of parliament that provides the core framework of police powers to combat crime and provide codes of practice for the exercise of these powers.
Leads and manages the development of the police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The body that represents the interests of all police constables, sergeants, and inspectors.
Deals with someone’s inability or failure to perform to a satisfactory level, but without breaching the Standards of Professional Behaviour.
Focuses on putting an issue right and preventing it from happening again by encouraging those involved to reflect on their actions and learn. It is not a disciplinary process or a disciplinary outcome.
Department within a police force that deals with complaints and conduct matters.
Refers to lower-level misconduct or performance-related issues, which are dealt with in a proportionate and constructive manner.
This means doing what is appropriate in the circumstances, taking into account the facts and the context in which the complaint has been raised, within the framework of legislation and guidance.
The average is calculated using the individual results of the forces in that most similar force group.
An investigation carried out by IOPC staff.
Carried out by the police under their own direction and control. The IOPC sets the terms of reference and receives the investigation report when it is complete. Complainants have a right of appeal following a supervised investigation (unless it is an investigation into a direction and control matter).
This act sets out how the police complaints system operates.
How a police force is run, for example policing standards or policing policy.
An investigation carried out by the police under the direction and control of the IOPC.
The organisation that is responsible for assessing how to deal with a complaint. For example – whether it can be handled locally or reaches the criteria for referral to the IOPC. The appropriate authority may be the chief officer of the police force or the PCC for the force. If a complaint investigation finds that someone has a case to answer for misconduct, the appropriate authority is responsible for arranging any misconduct proceedings. If you make a complaint, the appropriate authority for your case will contact you.
An intelligence-led agency with law enforcement powers, it is also responsible for reducing the harm that is caused to people and communities by serious organised crime.
Policing bodies include police and crime commissioners, the Common Council for the City of London, or the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime.
Investigations carried out entirely by the police. Complainants have a right of appeal following a local investigation (unless it is an investigation into a direction and control matter).
IOPC guidance to the police service and police authorities on the handling of complaints.
A complaint or recordable conduct matter that doesn’t need to be referred to the IOPC, but where the seriousness or circumstances justifies referral.
Parameters within which an investigation is conducted.
A person is adversely affected if he or she suffers any form of loss or damage, distress or inconvenience, if he or she is put in danger or is otherwise unduly put at risk of being adversely affected.
This is where a manager deals with the way someone has behaved. It can include: showing the police officer or member of staff how their behaviour fell short of expectations set out in the Standards of Professional Behaviour; identifying expectations for future conduct; or addressing any underlying causes of misconduct.
This could be the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Common Council for the City of London, or the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime.
A flexible process for dealing with complaints that can be adapted to the needs of the complainant. It may involve, for example, providing information and an explanation, an apology, or a meeting between the complainant and the officer involved.
A flexible process for dealing with complaints that can be adapted to the needs of the complainant. It may involve, for example, providing information and an explanation, an apology, or a meeting between the complainant and the officer involved.
A breach of standards of professional behaviour by police officers or staff so serious it could justify their dismissal.
A matter where no complaint has been received, but where there is an indication that a person serving with the police may have committed a criminal offence or behaved in a manner that would justify disciplinary proceedings.
Disapplication means that a police force may handle a complaint in whatever way it thinks fit, including not dealing with it under complaints legislation. This may only happen in certain circumstances where the complaint fits one or more of the grounds for disapplication set out in law.
The ending of an ongoing investigation into a complaint, conduct matter or DSI matter. An investigation may only be discontinued if it meets one or more of the grounds for discontinuance set out in law.
Quarter 1 covers 1 April - 30 June Quarter 2 covers 1 April - 30 September Quarter 3 covers 1 April - 31 December Quarter 4 covers the full financial year (1 April - 31 March).
You can request a review/appeal if you’re not satisfied with how your complaint has been handled.
Used to house anyone who has been detained.
Complainants have the right to appeal to the IOPC if a police force did not record their complaint or notify the correct police force if it was made originally to the wrong force.
The purpose of an investigation is to establish the facts behind a complaint, conduct matter, or DSI matter and reach conclusions. An investigator looks into matters and produces a report that sets out and analyses the evidence. There are three types of investigations: local, directed and independent.
The ending of an ongoing investigation into a complaint, conduct matter or DSI matter. An investigation may only be discontinued if it meets one or more of the grounds for discontinuance set out in law.
The type of behaviour being complained about. A single complaint case can have one or many allegations attached.
A person who makes a complaint about the conduct of someone serving with the police.
The ending of an ongoing investigation into a complaint, conduct matter or DSI matter. An investigation may only be discontinued if it meets one or more of the grounds for discontinuance set out in law.
List of officers and staff who have been dismissed from policing, or would have been if they had not retired or resigned.
The type of behaviour being complained about. A single complaint case can have one or many allegations attached.
Disapplication means that a police force may handle a complaint in whatever way it thinks fit, including not dealing with it under complaints legislation. This may only happen in certain circumstances where the complaint fits one or more of the grounds for disapplication set out in law.
An independent judicial officer, the coroner enquires into deaths reported to him/her.
A breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour that would justify at least a written warning.
No further action may be taken with regard to a complaint if the complainant decides to retract their allegation(s).
A record is made of a complaint, giving it formal status as a complaint under the Police Reform Act 2002.
This is a format where information is written in plain English and short sentences.
The IOPC must be notified about specific types of complaint or incidents to be able to decide how they should be dealt with.
No further action may be taken with regard to a complaint if the complainant decides to retract their allegation(s).
Casework involves assessing appeals. Casework staff also have a role in overseeing the police complaints system to help ensure police forces handle complaints in the best possible way.
Disapplication means that a police force may handle a complaint in whatever way it thinks fit, including not dealing with it under complaints legislation. This may only happen in certain circumstances where the complaint fits one or more of the grounds for disapplication set out in law.
Conduct includes acts, omissions, statements and decisions (whether actual, alleged or inferred). For example: language used and the manner or tone of communications.
You can request a review/appeal if you’re not satisfied with how your complaint has been handled.
You can request a review/appeal if you’re not satisfied with how your complaint has been handled.

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