Suffolk bucks trend of police complaints

The Police Complaints Authority has upheld a record percentage of complaints in the past year. One in six complaints (16.6 per cent) led to misconduct action in 2002/03.

The Police Complaints Authority has upheld a record percentage of complaints in the past year.

One in six complaints (16.6 per cent) led to misconduct action in 2002/03. Two years ago the equivalent rate was 11 per cent.

However, the number of complaints against police in Suffolk has fallen during the past 12 months.

Data published in the Police Complaints Authority's annual report shows the number of cases it looked at in Suffolk fell from 73 in 2001-02 to 60 in 2002-03.

The report shows only 13.86% of Suffolk's cases were substantiated.

Suffolk had the lowest number of complaints in the region with 103 per 1,000 officers, followed by Norfolk with 105, Essex with 117 and Cambridgeshire with 193.

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The majority of Suffolk's complaints involved allegations of a non-sexual assault or alleged harassment or oppressive conduct.

Supt Roly Wilson, head of Suffolk police's professional and ethical standards, said: "We treat any complaint from a member of the public very seriously and when dealing with complaints endeavour to learn lessons about how we can improve the policing service that we provide.

"Suffolk Constabulary has one of the lowest levels of complaints in the country, a fact of which I believe we can be justifiably proud.

"To put this in context, last year Suffolk Constabulary received a total of 202 complaints, many of which were dealt with to the satisfaction of all parties by informal resolution, over the same period we received 984 letters of appreciation from the public."

Nationally though, the PCA attacked forces for the "unprecedented" level of discipline problems.

There was a need for disciplinary action or other measures, in more than a quarter of complaints against police received in 2002/2003 - 936 out of 3,547 investigations.

PCA deputy chairman Ian Bynoe said: "The rising rate of disciplinary action is significant and unprecedented.

"It is very disappointing that after nearly 20 years of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act so many breaches of the codes of conduct are still being made."

The PCA upheld 22pc of complaints about the way suspects were detained, treated or questioned by officers, he added, and a similar percentage on people stopped and searched.

The highest number of complaints for every 1,000 officers was in Staffordshire (235) followed by North Yorkshire (207).

Derbyshire recorded the smallest number of complaints per 1,000 officers with just 38 - a lower figure of 14 in the City of London Police area was skewed by the Square Mile's low residential population.

The figures showed that black people made 13.9pc of complaints to the PCA - disproportionately higher than the overall 2pc black population of England and Wales. The Asian population made 7pc of complaints, even though they make up just 4pc of the population.

The PCA is to be replaced by the new Independent Police Complaints Authority in April.

Cases highlighted in the annual report included:

A Cambridgeshire family liaison officer being fined after the family of a murder victim made seven complaints, including that he took relatives and friends to the wrong location of the murder, boasted about the overtime he was earning, harassed a female relative and made an offensive and racist remark.

A North Yorkshire police sergeant being forced to resign after a number of women officers complained about him making offensive and sexual comments and remarks on their appearance

A Metropolitan Police officer being fined and reprimanded after admitting obtaining personal information about his estranged wife from the Police National Computer and submitting it to the county court as part of a civil case he brought against her.

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