RUDENESS, neglect and failure to carry out their duties have formed the bulk of complaints against Northumbria Police officers over the last year, a report has revealed.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has just published its annual complaints statistics for all 43 police forces, in which Northumbria Police recorded 578 complaints against officers, compared with 576 in the previous recording period.
The total number of allegations contained within the complaints was 1,107, a decrease of six per cent on the previous year.
Of these, 209 allegations were made regarding incivility, or rudeness, compared with 199 in 2008/09.
A further 279 allegations claimed neglect of duty, compared with 268 over the previous year.
Nationally, the figures show that last year 33,854 people complained about the police in England and Wales – an eight per cent increase on the previous year.
The most common aspects of policing that people complained about remained the same as in previous years, with nearly half the allegations about officers neglecting their duties or being rude.
Independent Police Complaints Commission interim chairman Len Jackson, said: “Last year there was a further increase in the number of people complaining about the police.
“Prior to the introduction of the IPCC in 2004, the number of people complaining was falling and later research showed only 10 per cent of people who felt like complaining actually did.
“I believe improved confidence and access has encouraged those who previously were not inclined to complain that making a complaint is worthwhile.
“The number of rude and late complaints highlights the standards expected of the police service and the need to improve how they interact with the public.
“However, while some aspects can be improved without cost, such as through better leadership, smaller police budgets will present a challenge around levels of service and public expectation.
“This will require forces to develop an open dialogue with the public.”
Temporary Supt Chris Sharman, Professional Standards, said: “The public quite rightly expects Northumbria Police officers and staff to behave with the highest standards of professionalism.
“Where that behaviour falls short, we have an open and transparent complaints procedure through which people can tell us where we have gone wrong and we can hopefully resolve or investigate the matter.
“We have a team of staff specifically tasked with engaging with people who have made a complaint. They seek to restore the confidence which may have been affected and provide an explanation of how such an incident may have happened.
“We always review the issues identified in a complaint in order to learn lessons and reduce the chance of it happening again.
“The level of complaints made against officers and staff in Northumbria Police has stayed largely the same over the past year, without any increase, whereas the national average has experienced an increase.
“However we are always striving to reduce the number of complaints by providing a professional and thorough service to everyone we come into contact with.”