Express & Star

Rise in complaints to police for second year in a row

There has been an increase in complaints made to Staffordshire Police for the second year in a row, it has been revealed.


During 2023 the force’s Professional Standards Department received 1,811 complaints – up from 1,733 in 2022 and 1,505 in 2021.

But Staffordshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Ben Adams said complaints provided an opportunity for the force to learn and improve its service. The Commissioner’s office now receives all reviews, unless they relate to senior officers, criminal or misconduct proceedings or human rights issues, following reforms to the police misconduct and complaints process which came into force in 2020.

Mr Adams, speaking at the latest Police, Fire and Crime Panel meeting, said: “There is a slight uptick in complaint numbers over the last two or three years. On one hand, I would rather they were going the other way but on the other hand, if that’s an indication that more people feel confident they can complain and there’s clear routes to complain, it’s OK.

“However there’s also an uptick in the number of reviews. That would indicate to me that more people are not happy with the outcome of their complaint.

“It is interesting to note the things people are complaining about are pretty much the same as they have been in recent years. They’re generally around action following contact, the sharing of information which is something I’m absolutely determined to improve and keep people better informed about their case and more aware of action being taken.

“Ultimately, sometimes people understandably are not happy about decisions. That’s always going to be the case, a decision will be made by the police officer or an investigating team weighing up all the factors that was not necessarily the one the person complaining would have hoped to have.

“Quite often, people want an apology, they want to know that learning has been taken and they want to know their experience has been properly understood and taken account of. I don’t think that warrants a huge bureaucratic expensive process that involves staff time and money.

“But of course, if someone is not happy with the outcome they need to have a right to review. It is absolutely imperative that people have confidence in the service – not just the public but the staff as well.”

Councillor Richard Cox said: “I think any number of complaints is a concern. The number involved here are in my view quite significant.

“What plans are in place to try and drive it downwards? Although I appreciate you don’t know what the beef is from a member of the public, and it can be unexpected in terms of the complaint being upheld, there must be some conscious effort to think we’ve got to get these numbers down.”

Mr Adams responded: “In my view I would like as few as possible. Where they’re due to things like standards or concerns about officer behaviour, perhaps the way people have been treated, not only are those small numbers but those are absolutely opportunities to get stuck in and do some framing – and occasionally suggest people go off and do something else for a living.

“For me the complaints are so important – any one that comes into my office I see it and most of them go straight to the service and are dealt with. I learn more from looking at the complaints and talking to people who have made complaints about where the service can improve than almost anything else.

“If there’s 6,000 999 incidents a month, police get through a lot of incidents and we’re coming down to this level of complaints it’s actually not a very high percentage. Given that you’re sometimes taking people’s liberty and using powers you’re always going to have a percentage.”

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