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Complaints System Overview

Adam Quick outlines the police complaints system.



To keep the complaint as independent as possible this is the avenue you want to go down. However, you have no say! The Professional Standards Department will make the decision on their own, with the “guidance” of the statutory framework 2013. If the PSD retain conduct, only then will your right of appeal be to the IPCC.

A thing that may ensure the matter is retained by the PSD;

Complaints that must be referred to the IPCC

Appropriate authorities must refer to the IPCC:

complaints alleging that the conduct complained of has resulted in death or serious injury;

complaints which fall within the mandatory referral criteria (see below);or

complaints which the IPCC notifies the appropriate authority that it requires to be referred regardless of whether the complaint is already being investigated by any person or the IPCC has considered it.

However, a complaint that has already been referred to the IPCC is not required to be referred again unless the IPCC so directs. Paragraph 4, Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002


Mandatory referral criteria The appropriate authority must refer complaints and recordable conduct matters that include allegations of conduct which constitutes: serious assault serious sexual offence serious corruption criminal offence or behaviour which is liable to lead to misconduct proceedings and which, in either case, is aggravated by discriminatory behaviour on the grounds of a persons race, sex, religion or other status identified in paragraph 8.18 of this guidance a relevant offence, or complaints or conduct matters which are alleged to have arisen from the same incident as anything falling within these criteria. An appropriate authority must also refer complaints which arise from the same incident about which there is a complaint alleging that the conduct complained of resulted in death or serious injury. Regulation 4 and 7, Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012

In this scenario the complaint will stay at a very local level, with the right of appeal being to the Chief Constable of that Police Force. Thus, people are particularly sceptical of the outcome, as there is never a “truly” independent body governing the complaint. Again, you have no say in whether it is allocated to the local area and in my experience; the large majority of complaints are handled in this way.

Of course, if you disagree with how your complaint has been handled then you may look to make an application for Judicial Review, which can often be a costly exercise.

If you do not instruct a Solicitor to pursue your complaint then seek to use the above guidance. If your complaint should be dealt with by the PSD with the IPCC being the relevant appeals body, then refer to the framework and notify the complaints body of the same.

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