Narrative – IOPC Complaints Information Bulletin Q2 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 Two 2022/23:

This has been another good quarter (Q2) for Surrey however, an area of focus for this coming quarter will be data integrity of complaint outcomes. 

As can be seen from the data in sections E1.1 and E1.2, a large portion of complaints are filed as ‘No Further Action (NFA)’ however, it is possible that many of those should have been filed as either ‘Learning from Reflection’ and/or ‘RPRP’. 

Your Commissioner will be working with Surrey Police to ensure that any opportunity for learning from complaints is embraced and that finalisations reflect the true outcome.

Section A1.1: Log and Contact Complainants (Page 2)

This is excellent work by the force and is a huge improvement over the position prior to the restructure of PSD and process changes in 2021, and is particularly impressive given the increase in volume of cases dealt with by PSD (including cases which would have previously been handled on division – now freeing up divisional resource to deal with criticality and urgent incidents).

Section A1.1: Reason Complaint Case Logged under Schedule 3 (Page 2)

Complaint wishes the complaint to be recorded at 54% is high compared to MSF and National forces but is consistent with previous years for Surrey.  It is likely that this an area which can be improved by training.  PSD have previously sought training in this area, including from private industry and other forces, however, the PCC will be working with the PSD to explore opportunities for improvements in this area.  PSD’s Continual Professional Development (CPD) Manager has been tasked to review this area for learning and make improvements.

Section A1.3: Allegations Logged (Page 4)

Although the numbers are low (26 cases), 51% of all discrimination cases are logged at ‘Race’.  The PCC has reviewed this category with PSD and there does not appear to be a stand out reason that can be identified for this.  Most of the complaints in this category relate to allegations that an officer did X or Y because of the complainant’s race without any clear evidence of discrimination.  Complaints about discrimination based on Disability (for example) are more likely to be about the behaviours once X or Y has happened (i.e. ‘the officer only stopped me because ‘I’m black’ versus ‘the officer did not cater to my disability in custody’.  Due to the importance of fairness and impartiality, this entire area is something the PCC continually scrutinises and monitors. It is worthy of mention that Surrey Police has reduced the percentage of discrimination complaints related to Race from last year, and is lower than both MSF and National in this category but they are not complacent.

Section A2: Allegations Timeliness (Page 6)

Timeliness under schedule 3 by way of Local Investigation is an area of concern and something the PCC has been reviewing with the force.  A review found that there has been an increase in ‘time taken’ due to the volume and complexity of PSD’s caseload during the period of these statistics, which affects across the entire department.  PSD also have relatively few Local Investigations, therefore, one or two particularly complex outlier cases can easily skew the figures notably.   That said, PSD have identified a recording issue where they were not choosing the correct option to show an investigation has ended, which has artificially inflated their investigation times.  Their new processes will hopefully resolve this and is something that the PCC is monitoring.

Section E1.1 and E1.2: Allegation actions – on complaint cases handled outside of Schedule 3 and/or under Schedule 3 (Pages 13 and 14)

No Further Action (NFA) has been used by the force in 54% of cases dealt with outside of Schedule 3 and 67% for cases under Schedule 3.  There has been very little Learning from Reflection or Reflective Practice Review Process (RPRP) recorded this quarter.  Both Learning from Reflection and RPRP are important and if used correctly, can help improve the service to the public through learning.  Therefore, the PCC has been working with the force to address this and is pleased to say that it has improved its administrative recording, taken the national guidance and incorporated it into their decision making processes going forward.  Th PCC continues to closely monitor this area.