IPCC finds still room to improve with discrimination complaints

More must be done to ensure discrimination complaints are handled in line with official guidance, a review has concluded.

Jul 6, 2017

More must be done to ensure discrimination complaints are handled in line with official guidance, a review has concluded. Two-thirds of complaints from the public examined by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) were not satisfactorily dealt with, and not one was upheld. The results, published in a follow-up inspection of three large forces, showed officers were not properly assessing the severity of allegations, not asking probing questions and not seeking comparator evidence. However, the forces had notably improved at handling complaints from officers and were communicating with their staff more effectively than they were in 2014. IPCC chair Dame Anne Owers said: “It is heartening to see that there have been some improvements in the handling of discrimination allegations. “However, this review shows that there is still a way to go before forces can be confident that they are dealing effectively with discrimination complaints that come from the public. “We have made a number of recommendations based on our findings, which I hope will assist all forces in an area that is particularly important for public and community confidence.” The IPCC reviewed a sample of discrimination complaints from West Yorkshire Police, Greater Manchester Police and West Midlands Police in 2014 and found “weaknesses” in their handling processes. Since then, the IPCC has issued complaint handling guidance. In its follow-up review, published on Thursday (July 6), it found nearly two-thirds of internal allegations are now being upheld. However, cases involving members of the public were less positive. While communication with complainants has noticeably improved, investigation and report writing quality is still largely poor. These final reports often did not address the discrimination aspect of the complaint, and when cases were concluded the forces were overly reliant on local resolutions. The IPCC believes these issues are not specific to the three forces it examined – in 2016, it found nearly half of investigations into discrimination allegations were flawed. It has recommended forces implement its guidelines and pay particular attention to the guidance on assessing complaint seriousness and reviewing officers’ complaint histories. It has previously invited all English and Welsh forces to submit an action plan detailing how they will improve, and 32 have complied so far.

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