In February 2020, the Government changed the complaints system so that police forces operate under a significantly different legal framework. The reforms aimed to deliver a more proportionate approach in handling complaints with the emphasis on learning.
The Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales has adopted Model 1 which means that the Chief Constable of South Wales Police is responsible for all dissatisfactions, complaints and conduct relating to operational policing, officers and staff under his direction and control. This duty includes the logging, recording, investigating and keeping complainants informed with progress and decisions relating to complaints.
Under the Model 1 framework the Police and Crime Commissioner:- (1) is responsible for considering complaints about the Chief Constable, (2) has a duty to hold the Chief Constable to account in providing an effective and efficient complaints process, and (3) is the Relevant Review Body for some complaints.
(1) Complaints about the Chief Constable
Complaints against the Chief Constable are assessed in accordance with the Statutory Guidance produced by the Independent Office for Police Conduct. The Independent Office for Police Conduct is the Relevant Review Body for these complaints. Where a complainant names the Chief Constable, but the complaint is actually about something delegated to another officer or staff member within the force, in accordance with legislation, the complaint is forwarded to the Professional Standards Department.
(2) How we hold the Chief Constable to Account
Scrutiny of complaints is carried out via a range of mechanisms including monthly meetings with senior officers within the Professional Standards Department and through participation in formal meetings which include the Strategic Lessons Learnt forum and the Strategic Monitoring Group. Dip sampling of complaint files is carried out by the Police and Crime Commissioner’s staff and areas of concern are reported to the Professional Standards Department and can be escalated to the Strategic Lessons Learnt forum as well as to the Police and Crime Commissioner’s boards, including the Scrutiny and Accountability Board and the Commissioner’s Strategic Board.
Further scrutiny of the police complaints function is carried out by the Independent Office for Police Conduct and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. Reports of their scrutiny and findings are available on their respective websites.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct has published information about complaints handled under the Police Reform Act 2002, as amended by the Police and Crime Act 2017. The Police Complaints Information Bulletins for South Wales Police can be found here under the heading “Read the latest bulletins”.
(3) Police and Crime Commissioner’s role as the Relevant Review Body for some complaints
Between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022 121 applications to review the outcome of police complaints were received by the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales. The new regulations relating to police complaints provide that the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office has one element to consider and that is whether the outcome of the police complaint was reasonable and proportionate. If the result of the Review deems that the outcome provided by the force was reasonable and proportionate the Review is not upheld. If there is any element of the Review that is deemed to be not reasonable or proportionate, the Review is upheld. Of those 121 Reviews, 11 were assessed as Invalid, 8 Reviews were Upheld, 9 were partially upheld and 93 were not Upheld.
During the period 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022, the average time taken to complete reviews was 50 days.
In accordance with The Elected Local Policing Bodies (Specified Information) (Amendment) Order 2021 this information will be published on an annual basis on the Police and Crime Commissioner’s website.
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