Police Complaints in England and Wales, REVEALED


Security experts, Locksmithservice.co.uk have exposed data from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to reveal the number of police complaints in England and Wales, 2016-17. These complaints, made by members of the public, relate to the conduct of people serving with the police, or to the direction and control (how the force is run) of a police force.

Locksmithservice.co.uk found forces recorded a total of 34,103 complaint cases in 2016-17. The forces with the highest number of complaint cases, include Metropolitan (5,836), West Yorkshire (2,167) and Greater Manchester (1,537.) Alternately, the lowest complaint cases can be seen in Cumbria (307), Gwent (287) and Dyfed-Powys, Wales (274.)

However, what is perhaps most interesting is the percentage change in complaints recorded from 2015-16 to 2016-17, highlighting where complaints are rapidly on the rise, with Warwickshire suffering an alarming 60% upsurge in complaints associated with their force. Followed by stark increases in Humberside (44%) and West Mercia (44%.)

Contrastingly, complaint cases fell by -31% in Nottinghamshire, the lowest decline recorded, followed by drops in Cleveland (-25%) and the West Midlands (-24%.)

Analysis of the data also revealed most complainants were men (20,724 – 60%), which has been the same case every year since 2004/05. Almost half of complainants were known to be white (16,751), however it is important to note that the ethnicity of 40% (13,590) of complainants was either not stated or unknown.

The most common age groups to complain about the police, in 2016-17 (where age is known) were those aged 40 to 49 years (6,385 – 19%) and those aged 30 to 39 years (6,198 – 18%.) The people who least commonly complained were aged 17 or under (263 – 1%.) The age of 25% of complainants (8,553) was unknown.



Further, a complaint case may have one or more allegations attached to it. During 2016-17, a total of 63,752 allegations toward the police were recorded, a 1% decrease compared to the previous year. This amounted to 279 allegations per 1,000 employees across all forces, compared to 276 in 2015-16.

The most common allegation was recorded under the ‘other neglect or failure in duty’ category. This category accounted for 37% of all the allegations recorded in 2016-17.

Locksmith Service also looked into police complaints and the steps you need to take, should you need to make one.


Police Complaints


Image credit: Michail Petrov/Shutterstock


How to Complain


You can make a complaint if you:

  • Experienced inappropriate behaviour from a police officer, staff member, contractor or volunteer. For instance, if you felt they were rude or aggressive in their treatment of you.
  • Saw a police officer, staff member, contractor or volunteer acting inappropriately.
  • Have been adversely affected by the conduct of a police officer, staff member, contractor or volunteer, even if it did not take place in relation to you.

As well as police forces, you can use the police complaints system to complain about:

  • The National Crime Agency
  • Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
  • The parts of the Home Office that carry out border and immigration functions
  • Police and crime commissioners
  • The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime
  • The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
  • British Transport Police
  • Ministry of Defence Police

To complain, contact the relevant police force or organisation. Alternately, contact the Independent Office for Police Conduct to fill out an online complaint form.

There is no time limit for making a complaint, although you should try to do it as quickly as possible. This is because when complaints are made a long time after the incident, it can be more difficult to obtain evidence and accurate witness statements.

The police force or relevant organisation can decide not to deal with a complaint if they receive it more than 12 months after the incident. If you are complaining more than 12 months after an incident, you should explain why your complaint has been delayed.


What Happens Next


The police force or relevant organisation will consider your complaint and decide about whether to record it. You can expect to hear from the organisation within 15 working days about whether it has recorded your complaint and, if it has not, the reasons why.

If the police force or relevant organisation does not write to you, or writes to you to say your complaint has not been recorded, you can find out more about your right of appeal.

Local Resolution

This may involve the police force or relevant organisation explaining, apologising, or otherwise satisfying you that appropriate action is being taken. Please note that local resolution cannot result in misconduct proceedings being taken against an officer, staff member or relevant organisation.

Local Investigation

In some cases, a police force or relevant organisation needs to carry out a ‘local investigation.’ If so, it will discuss with you how the complaint will be investigated and how a decision will be reached.

When the investigation is complete, you will be told if the investigation has found in your favour and what action is being taken. There may be action taken, even if the investigation does not find in your favour.

Image credit: kenny1/Shutterstock

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