IOPC publishes figures on 2020/21 police complaints

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has published its first annual report on police complains since moving to new recording system introduced under the Policing and Crime Act in February 2020.

Nov 16, 2021
By Tony Thompson

As a result, the IOPC noted that the figures present different data from previous annual complaints reports due to the changes in legislation and changes to the complaint categories.

“As a result, these figures are ‘experimental statistics’ as defined by the Office for National Statistics, which describes them as a ‘series of statistics that are in the testing phase and not yet fully developed’. For this reason, any conclusions about trends need to be treated with caution and they cannot be meaningfully compared to previous years,” the IOPC said in a statement.

The report shows that:

  • In 2020/21 67,732 complaint cases were logged and 36,365 of these were recorded formally – this is using the new definition of a complaint in the Policing and Crime Act;
  • 109,151 allegations were logged (a single complain can contain multiple allegations);
  • 62,606 people complained about the police and 55 per cent of complainants were men;
  • The most common age group to complain were those aged 30 to 39 (20 per cent);
  • In cases where ethnicity was declared, the majority of complainants were found to be white (47 per cent);
  • 38,982 people serving as police officers or staff were subject to a complaint. Of those complained about, 67 per cent were male and where known, 81 per cent were white;
  • Police forces finalised 32,012 allegations on complaint cases that were handled informally outside of the requirements of Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002, which sets out legal requirements for the handling of complaints. On average, these allegations took 20 working days to finalise;
  • 45,205 allegations were handled formally but not investigated and on average took 57 days to finalise;
  • 6,533 allegations were investigated formally and on average took 106 days to finalise;
  • 41 per cent of cases handled informally were finalised with an explanation being given to the complainant. 31 per cent of cases resulted in no further action. Learning and reflective activity were the outcomes of 14 per cent of cases handled informally;
  • Of the 23,243 complaint cases handled under Schedule 3 in 2020/21, more than half (57 per cent) had at least one allegation resulting in no further action being taken;
  • 18 complaint cases had at least one allegation resulting in either a misconduct meeting or hearing;
  • In more than 40 per cent of complaint allegations finalised, the police took some action – this ranged from explanations being given (24 per cent), learning outcomes (nine per cent), referral to a reflective practice review process (four per cent), or other outcomes (six per cent);
  • Reviews are handled by the appropriate review body. Local policing bodies (LPB) received 4,346 reviews and upheld 15 per cent of those handled otherwise than by investigation, and 19 per cent of those subject to investigation; and
  • The IOPC dealt with 969 reviews and upheld 32 per cent of those.

The IOPC added: “Given the experimental status of these statistics, caution is needed when drawing conclusions about the outcomes reported. Not all complaints recorded in 20/21 will have been finalised and so these outcomes present only a partial picture.”

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