Yorkshire police force to change way it deals with complaints as Chief Constable admits 'service has previously fallen short'

Changes will be made to the way North Yorkshire Police deals with complaints.
Changes will be made to the way North Yorkshire Police deals with complaints.
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North Yorkshire Police is to change the way it deals with complaints as its Chief Constable admitted it is important to "learn from situations where our service falls short".

North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan has published a Decision Notice which will bring changes to the way complaints and compliments about the force are handled from next year.

Ms Mulligan said the current system is "too complicated, bureaucratic and does very little" to encourage individuals or the police service to learn and improve.

She said that despite good people and good teams working on complaints and compliments, the public still often perceive the current system to be "police marking their own homework", which the PCC said doesn't install confidence needed to make the process work as effectively as it should.

In early 2020, new laws will be implemented giving elected PCCs more involvement in the complaints and compliments process, as well as the responsibility for most reviews - formerly called appeals. The aim of the change is to ensure there is proper scrutiny of the process from someone directly elected and accountable to those served by the force.

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The definition of a complaint will also broaden from ‘any complaint about the conduct of a person serving with the police’ to ‘any expression of dissatisfaction with a Force’.

Ahead of these changes, Ms Mulligan is setting up a new Complaints and Recognition Team - distinct and independent from North Yorkshire Police - to deal with all non-serious complaints and all compliments. She will also be appointing an independent adjudicator to manage all reviews. Recruitment for these roles is beginning now but it will be at least February next year before the changes come into effect.

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Serious complaints, which require an investigation, or complaints which a member of the public want formalised, will still be dealt with by North Yorkshire Police’s Professional Standards Department.

Chief Constable Lisa Winward said: “These changes to our complaints handling are in line with changes in legislation set to come into force next year. It’s important that we learn from situations where our service falls short, and that members of the public are satisfied with the handling of any complaints. Likewise it’s very much appreciated when members of the public take the time to complement our officers and staff when they receive good service.

“It’s also important to note that the most serious misconduct matters will still be dealt with by our Professional Standards Department, and where appropriate the Independent Office for Police Conduct.”