Make the OPCC the first point of contact for police complaints

As a result of changes brought about by the Policing and Crime Act 2017, PCCs will have the option to become the first point of contact for complaints against the police. Additionally, PCCs will take on an appellant role – meaning that appeals against police complaint decisions will no longer be addressed by the Force in question, but by the Commissioner. The intention of this legislative change is to provide greater public confidence in the complaints system, in effect removing the perception that forces are ‘marking their own homework’.

Work was undertaken to prepare the Dorset OPCC for this opportunity, and detailed plans were agreed by the PCCs and Chief Constables of Dorset and Devon & Cornwall in 2017. The reason that agreement was required across both forces is because the Professional Standards Department, which deals with complaints, is a shared service.

Unfortunately, the statutory instrument required to enact these changes has not yet been laid by central government and, increasingly, it appears likely that this delay in implementation will continue until after the PCC elections in 2020. Clearly, this is beyond the PCC’s control.

Nevertheless, comprehensive planning and stakeholder engagement has been undertaken, which will prepare Dorset OPCC for these changes in the future. This has included improvements made to relevant policies and procedures, as well as refinement of some complaint resolution practices.

Further, the Force has decided – considering the delays – to implement their own version of some of the OPCC’s ideas within the coming year. This will be funded via the Dorset Innovation Board. 

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