Police handling of discrimination complaints 'poor'

Greater Manchester Police officer Image copyright PA
Image caption The IPCC said it wanted to see whether complaint-handing was a problem outside London

A report has found significant failings in the way three English police forces deal with allegations of discrimination by the public.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission examined how cases were handled by the West Midlands, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire forces.

It said the complaints, mostly of racial discrimination, were "poorly handled" from beginning to end.

Complaints about officers by the public were often not believed, the IPCC said.

None of the 170 such complaints looked at by the IPCC was upheld, although 94 were investigated.

By contrast, in the 32 cases where police officers made allegations of discrimination against their colleagues, half of the complaints were upheld.

Overall, the three forces upheld between 11% and 13% of complaint allegations from the public, the report said.

It found that too many complaints from the public were resolved locally, without a formal investigation, when it was not appropriate to do so.

IPCC chair Dame Anne Owers said: "Our findings are stark - generally complaints of discrimination made by members of the public are poorly handled from beginning to end.

"It is vital that police forces deal effectively with allegations of discrimination."

West Yorkshire Deputy Chief Constable Dee Collins said the force was "very disappointed with the suggestion that we are 'failing at every stage'."

But she added: "We recognise there are some improvements to be made and we are well advanced with that work, significant changes having taken place since the time this data was collected."

Image copyright Ipcc
Image caption Dame Anne Owers: "Much more training and support is needed"

Greater Manchester's Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said: "This is a hard-hitting report, but I welcome it because it is vital that there's confidence in the process.

"I've been concerned about this since before I was elected Police and Crime Commissioner and it has been a priority for me to make real changes."

Deputy Chief Constable Dave Thompson from West Midlands Police highlighted variations in practice across the three forces mentioned.

Diverse communities

He added: "We are constantly striving to improve our service to the public and will review the report in detail. We take complaints very seriously and do not tolerate discriminatory behaviour."

The IPCC said 60% of local resolutions and 44% of investigations across the three forces did not meet basic standards.

In cases handled at local level rather than by professional standards procedures, this rose to two-thirds and a half respectively.

The report blamed many of the complaints on a lack of up-to-date training in diversity issues.

"The police in these force areas do not appear to have a good understanding of the diverse communities they serve," it said.

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