Dealing with police

Page last updated on Wednesday 23rd October 2013 at 1435hrs

The overwhelming majority of officers join the police service with the intention of serving the public honestly and fairly – and keeping our communities safe from criminals.

So, what happens when an officer breaks the law himself or breaches his (or her) police force’s Standards of Professional Conduct? A member of the public has a right to complain under the Police Reform Act 2002. The complaint can either be made to the Professional Standards Department (PSD) of the offending officer’s own police force or to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)

The complaint is then assessed and a decision made whether to ‘record’ the complaint. If the complaint is recorded the force will make a decision to either appoint another officer to investigate the complaint or, in most circumstances, seek an informal outcome via a process called Local Resolution. Either way, there is no hierarchal, or institutional, independence offered to the complainant. By that, we mean that the police choose to investigate themselves.

In certain circumstances, if the police feel the complaint has no reasonable basis, they can apply for a legal ‘dispensation’. This removes any further obligation on them to deal with the complaint. In a highly cynical Command Team, such as West Yorkshire Police, this ‘dispensation’ technicality is sometimes used to try to avoid investigating complaints that would damage their reputation. Four members of that Command Team will ultimately feature in our Rogue Chiefs gallery.

Whichever way the police decide to approach a complaint, they are judge in their own cause. They decide which witnesses to interview and what evidence to assess, so it is important to accumulate and save evidence of your own. Tape recordings, video clips, registration numbers, collar numbers (on a police officer’s uniform) photographs and names/addresses of any other witnesses who saw your contact with the police, or the incident leading up to the complaint.

West Yorkshire Police are demonstrably not interested in the truth and delivering justice to members of the public who complain: Their sole intention is to frustrate any further legal actions or claims against their own officers and every action is guided by that single premise. For Professional Standards, read Civil Claims Prevention Department. This goes some way to explaining that an astonishing 96% of complaints made to West Yorkshire Police about the actions of their officers are NOT upheld.

This is where our own investigative expertise, knowledge of the law and complaint processes come in – adding weight to what we set out as our two primary objectives: