Narrative – IOPC Complaints Information Bulletin Q4 2022/23

Each quarter, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) collect data from 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 accompanies the IOPC Complaints Information Bulletin for Quarter Four 2022/23:

Surrey Police continue to perform well in relation to complaint handling.

Allegation categories capture the root of the dissatisfaction expressed in a complaint. A complaint case will contain one or more allegations and one category is selected for each allegation logged.

Please refer to the IOPC Statutory guidance on capturing data about police complaints, allegations and complaint category definitions.

Performance in relation to contacting complainants and logging of complainants remains stronger than Most Similar Forces (MSFs) and the National Average (see section A1.1). The number of complaints cases logged per 1,000 employees at Surrey Police has reduced from the Same Period Last Year (SPLY) (584/492) and is now similar to MSFs who recorded 441 cases. The number of allegations logged has also reduced from 886 to 829. However, it is still higher than MSFs (705) and the National Average (547) and is something the PCC is looking to understand why this maybe the case.

Moreover, although a slight reduction from the SPLY, the Force has a higher dissatisfaction rate after initial handling (31%) compared to MSF (18%) and National Average (15%). This is an area your PCC will be seeking to understand and where appropriate, ask the Force to make improvements.  However, the OPCC Complaints Lead has been working with the Force to make improvements to its administrative functions and as a result, PSD now finalises fewer complaint cases handled under Schedule 3 as ‘No Further Action’ compared to SPLY (45%/74%).

Furthermore, the areas mostly complained about are broadly similar to the categories from the SPLY (see chart on ‘what has been complained about’ at section A1.2). In relation to timeliness, the Force has reduced the time taken by two days in which it finalises cases outside of Schedule 3 and is better than MSFs and National Average. This is due to the operating model within the Professional Standards Department (PSD) that seeks to deal efficiently and effectively with complaints at initial reporting, and where possible outside of Schedule 3.

However, the Force has taken 30 days longer this period to finalise cases recorded under Schedule 3 and by way of local investigation. The PCCs scrutiny of PSD reveals that an increase in complexity and demand in cases together with resourcing challenges, including the demand generated following the HMICFRS national vetting standards recommendations, may have all contributed to this increase.  Although still waiting to come to fruition, a plan has now been approved by the Force to increase resourcing within the PSD.

Lastly, only 1% (49) allegations were handled under Schedule 3 and investigated (not subject to special procedures). This is significantly lower than MSFs at 21% and National Average at 12% and is a further area of focus for the PCC to understand why this may be the case.