Clarification on media reporting of police complaint data
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We have issued a statement to clarify our position on the media reporting of police complaint data.
Recent reporting states that Surrey Police has more misconduct complaints than officers in the force. This is completely inaccurate.
Crucial context has been provided to the media but has not been reflected in coverage. Policing is rightly under significant scrutiny, but inaccurate reporting can and will cause additional community concern. Therefore, we want to clarify some facts.
The Home Office figures quoted by some outlets are for overall public complaints to the force. These capture dissatisfaction with the service provided by police. The figures do not reflect misconduct investigations. This is a really important distinction to make.
When reviewing any public complaint an assessment of whether the conduct of the officer breached the standards of professional behaviour is carried out. In only 10 out of 2,494 public complaints recorded by the force did the case meet the threshold for a misconduct investigation.
Misconduct refers to actions by an officer which breach the standards of professional behaviour set for policing, and warrants anything from a written warning to dismissal. This is dealt with through a very specific and nationally set process.
Almost three quarters of public complaints to us fell under a wide-ranging definition of “service delivery”. This includes anything from a delay in responding to a member of the public or a lack of update on a case to slow response times or dissatisfaction with a case outcome. Of these complaints, it was deemed that in more than a third the level of service provided to the public was acceptable. A further 45% have been resolved to a level deemed satisfactory by the complainant.
Some articles have misleadingly conflated several issues and used national figures which inadvertently suggest the national picture is the reality in Surrey. These figures state almost half the British public have little or no faith in the police’s ability to tackle crime. In fact, Surrey has the fourth highest public confidence levels in the country and has maintained these through some of the most challenging periods over the past three years.
Our public have high confidence in us, so rightly hold us to a high standard. Recent changes to legislation and routes of reporting have had the expected impact of increasing the number of complaints made to us. We welcome the broadening of the complaint definition which is allowing our public to hold us further to account.
We are not naïve to the serious and warranted concern about policing’s culture and effectiveness. But it is more important than ever that the facts are clear and we will continue to challenge when they aren’t.
We know there are crucial questions being asked about how all forces ensure horrific and appalling criminality such as that carried out by former PC Carrick is never able to happen again. It is critical we counteract the ability of officers to abuse their position of power. We continue to root out those not fit to serve and make our force a hostile place for anyone who compromises our integrity.
We support and continue to engage with the scrutiny and spotlight on our force and we welcome the additional measures announced by the Government this week.