Narrative – IOPC Complaints Information Bulletin Q4 2023/2024

Each quarter, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) collects data from police forces about how they handle complaints. They use this to produce information bulletins that set out performance against a number of measures. They compare each force’s data with their most similar force group average and with the overall results for all forces in England and Wales.

The below narrative from Surrey Police and our Complaints and Compliance Lead accompanies the IOPC Complaints Information Bulletin for Quarter Four 2023/24:

Surrey Police continue to perform exceptionally well in relation to the logging of public complaints and contacting complainants. Once a complaint has been made, it has taken the Force an average of one day to log the complaint and between 2-3 days to contact the complainant: a fall since the previous quarter but still below the National and MSF average.

Surrey Police has logged 2,333 complaints and this is 115 more complaints logged during the Same Period Last Year (SPLY). It remains slightly higher than MSFs.  This quarter sees the highest number of complaints logged in the year 2023/24 with 647.

The Force logged 4018 allegations (359 more than SPLY) and also recorded more allegations per 1,000 employees than the MSFs and National Average.  The Force acknowledge that it is recording a significantly higher number of allegations than the MSFs and training continues with complaint handlers to ensure that points of complaint relating to a specific aspect of police activity are covered under one allegation where appropriate and in line with IOPC guidance.

The percentage of cases logged under Schedule 3 and recorded as ‘Dissatisfaction after initial handling’ has again reduced to 29% from 30%.  This is still higher than MSFs and National Average who are between 15%-19% under this category.  Surrey Police are working hard to bring this figure down delivering training to complaint handlers to assist them in early contact with complainants leading to successful resolution of their concerns.

The Force is pleased to announce a continued fall in the recording of ‘General Level of Service’, from 435 in Quarter 1 to 105 in the latest quarter. 

The Force continues to review why the use of the ‘None’ category (section A1.4) remains high amongst all allegation categories. The Force anticipate that complaint handlers are using this instead of other, more appropriate factors, further review will be completed for the next quarterly bulletin.  

The timeliness of investigations for cases under Schedule 3 – by local investigation, was 264 working days compared to 197 days for the SPLY (+16 days).  The MSFs is 196 days and national average is 191 days.  These figures are indicative of resource challenges the department has faced recently. Three new complaint handlers are now in position and are working their way through the training portfolio, and it is expected that the timeliness of investigations will fall as a result. The PCC continues to monitor resources across the Force and is aware of the challenges faced in PSD.

The way allegations were handled (section A3.1) shows that only 3% were handled under Schedule 3 investigated (not subject to special procedures).  The Force believe the number of allegations handled that are not subject to special procedures remains lower than that compared to MSFs owing to the fact that Surrey PSD have omni-competent complaint handlers, responsible for both the initial handling and any subsequent investigation that is required. This allows them to manage complaints outside the requirements to record the matter as an investigation.

Although Surrey Police have made 33 more referrals to the IOPC compared to our MSF (section B referrals), the IOPC have ratified these as appropriate. Additionally, it was recognised that there were adverse incidents in custody which required reviewing to ensure they were referred where necessary. This has now been adopted as normal practice.

The time taken to finalise a case outside and inside remains below the MSF and National figures at 14 and 106 respectively.   Training has been delivered to complaint handlers in regard to the recording of allegation actions following outside of Schedule 3 complaint cases (see section D2.1) – there is further work to be done, but use of no further action remains lower than MSF.

In relation to Reviews (see section C2), the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey (OPCC), continue to perform exceptionally well in relation completing statutory reviews.  Where a complaint has been recorded under Schedule 3 to the Police Reform Act 2002, the complainant has a right to apply for a review. The Surrey OPCC took an average of 34 working days to complete Local Policing Body reviews.  This was an improvement on the SPLY when it was 37 working days. It is also better than MSFs and National Average who were 43 and 50 working days respectively.

Date:  23 May 2024