Impact of body-worn cameras hailed as Kent Police complaints down 10%
PUBLISHED: 16:04 19 September 2017 | UPDATED: 16:04 19 September 2017
There were 762 recorded complaints in the county last year
A decrease in complaints recorded by Kent Police has been attributed to the success of body-worn cameras.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) revealed this week there were 762 recorded complaints in Kent in 2016/17 - down by some ten per cent on the previous year.
The police watchdog raised concerns about the consistency of the way complaints were recorded nationally, ahead of significant changes coming into effect next year, including a greater role for police and crime commissioners, who will decide on appeals that do not go to the IPCC.
Lee Catling, head of Kent Police’s Professional Standards Department, said: “It is pleasing that Kent Police’s commitment to ensuring high standards of professionalism has contributed to a reduction in the number of complaints recorded in the reporting period.
“We comply with the recording requirements of complaints legislation and have invested in further training and staff to oversee the quality and timeliness of individual complaint procedures. This should result in further improvements in the way complaints are handled.
“We believe the reduction in the number of allegations against police officers could partly be attributed to the introduction of body-worn cameras, which can act as a disincentive for members of the public but which also provide a further layer of accountability for officers in terms of maintaining the high standards of conduct expected of them.”
IPCC vhair Dame Anne Owers added: “The public need to have a high level of confidence in the police complaints system.
“If they complain about their local police force they should be assured that it will be dealt with robustly and fairly.
“The current system is extremely complex and bureaucratic and this has led to some of the inconsistencies we have recorded year on year.
“It is also not sufficiently independent, since some dissatisfied complainants can only appeal to the force that rejected their complaint in the first place.
“While some local variation is unavoidable, it is clear that some forces need to look closely at their own performance and approach, where it is clearly at odds with the norm.
“It is welcome that some forces have done this during last year, sometimes with the assistance of our own oversight team.
“The new system will be simpler and more flexible, and will also provide an independent appeal right for everyone, either to the IPCC or to a police and crime commissioner.
“This is welcome, but we will still need to ensure that complainants throughout the country can be assured that their complaints will be handled appropriately and thoroughly.
“We look forward to working with police and crime commissioners as they take on greater responsibility for complaints in their areas, to share knowledge and ensure effective and consistent oversight of the police complaints system.”