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12 April, 2023

Commissioner’s Office doing great work to manage and resolve police complaints

Complaints and recognition. Cartoon characters holding up baloons with faces ranging from unhappy to very happy
Following the announcement that in 2021-2022 North Yorkshire had the lowest number of serious complaints submitted to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), Commissioner Zoë sheds some light on how her office go above and beyond to manage complaints and ensure the public have confidence in their Police Force.

Complaints against North Yorkshire Police are handled independently by the Complaints and Recognition team within Commissioner Zoë’s Office, this covers justified, but minor issues that may require an apology or explanation and instances that require work with North Yorkshire Police to resolve quickly in a more/or less formal way.

In 2022 the Commissioner’s team handled 1,400 complaints and expressions of dissatisfaction, 80% of which were resolved using a flexible, customer focused and effective approach, without the need to be escalated to North Yorkshire Police’s Professional Standards Department (PSD) or the IOPC national body. During the same period 214 expressions of appreciation were recorded.

To review this great work, an independent adjudicator was brought in to review the outcome of police complaints and found 48% had outcomes of reasonable and proportionate handling and/or outcomes, 52% of cases were upheld or part upheld with further action required by North Yorkshire Police and exceptional standards were identified in 11% of the cases – a tribute to the dedicated team.

282 complaints against North Yorkshire Police staff and officers were referred on to the IOPC, the lowest number of complaints of any police force across the country.

The successful adoption of a new and ambitious process in 2020 has since supported positive outcomes such as these and brought the Commissioner’s Office to the center of managing all complaints aiming for a preferred outcome of a local resolution. North Yorkshire was the first area to adopt this process, and it remains only one of two Commissioner’s Offices to have done so.

For more serious complaints, the Complaints and Recognition Team continue to refer to North Yorkshire Police’s Professional Standards Department (PSD) to carry out a formal investigation. Depending upon the seriousness of the complaint a decision is then made whether the complaint should be referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

All complaints, no matter their origin, are first managed through the Commissioner’s Office, and as Commissioner Zoë is also the Fire Authority, this includes complaints and compliments made to North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Commissioner Zoë says:

“I am proud to be one of only two Commissioners who take ownership of police complaints, providing an additional level of scrutiny which ensures fairness for both residents and police and fire services.

“Having this function within my Office allows me to identify common themes around public concern which feeds into my public accountability meetings with the Chief Constable and Chief Fire Officer. In addition, themes can be further discussed by the scrutiny panels set up by my Office, which assist with gaining a better understanding of how we need to work with Services to make improvements for the public.

“What’s apparent from complainant feedback is how comfortable people feel speaking to my Complaints and Recognition team and the level of trust they have that a complaint will be progressed on their behalf, and that the most appropriate outcome is arrived at.

“It’s important to highlight the amount of work that goes on within the entirety of my Office to ensure that I can fulfil my statutory duty as Commissioner, which is something I’m excited to share more of.”

Find out more about Commissioner Zoë’s Complaints and Recognition service here: www.northyorkshire-pfcc.gov.uk/how-can-we-help/complaints/