Derbyshire Police has announced a change in the way that complaints are handled – which has now come into force.
The reforms form part of a process of overhaul of the complaints and discipline system that were outlined in the 2017 Policing and Crime Act.
Changes include a simplification of what constitutes a complaint. Whereas previously police forces needed to assess whether a ‘complaint' received met the definition of the Police Reform Act 2002, the new definition is as follows: Any expression of dissatisfaction with a police force which is expressed (whether in writing or otherwise) by or on behalf of a member of the public. It is hoped that this new, simplified definition will help demystify the process for the public and will allow police forces to work to resolve areas of concern raised by the public.
Once a force receives a complaint they will be expected to establish contact with the complainant to find out how they want the matter dealt with. This could be through either formal or informal channels and will be handled by either the force itself, the Police and Crime Commissioner if the complaint relates to the chief constable, or in certain circumstances, by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
Hardyal Dhindsa, police and crime commissioner for Derbyshire. said: "It has often been said that the current system of handling complaints contains elements of the police marking their own homework.
“I welcome the opportunity to be able to provide an independent review function and I hope that this will encourage people to have the confidence to complain if they don't feel they have had the service they expected.
“It is through this kind of feedback I would expect the force to reflect on performance and how it deals with the public."
One significant change brought by the reforms is the role that the PCC will have in handling appeals against the outcome of a complaint investigation. Whereas previously the appeal was usually heard by chief constable of a force, often delegated to one of the other senior officer team, the new system will see the right to request a review being directed to the PCC.