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Our Policies and Procedures

Here you can access any current written protocols, policies and procedures that we have in place regarding the delivery of our services and responsibilities.


Policies and procedures for the conduct of our business

Our Code of Corporate Governance includes the following elements:

You may also want to review the following documents:

Dorset Police policies and procedures can be accessed via the Force website here.


Policies and procedures for the provision of services

For information on how we handle requests for information, please read our Publication Scheme or visit the Freedom of Information section of our website.


Policies and procedures for procurement and commissioning arrangements

Further details on our Approach to Commissioning can be found within the Working in Partnership section of our website.

Within this section you can also find out information relating to:

Our Commissioning Strategy is currently under review and will be published once this has been finalised.


Policies and procedures about the employment of staff

Any OPCC staff vacancies and details on how to apply will be posted on the Recruitment page of our website. Information on the current OPCC Staff Team, including job descriptions and salary bands/grades can be found on the OPCC Team page of our website.

OPCC staff are currently employed under the same terms, conditions, policies and procedures as our police staff colleagues within Dorset Police. Relevant policies can therefore be accessed via the Force website.

For information on a career with Dorset Police, please visit the Force website for details relating to:

  • Police Officers
  • Transferees
  • Police Staff
  • Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs)
  • Special Constabulary
  • Volunteers

Complaints

Holding the Chief Constable to Account

When a member of the public feels that something has gone wrong or that the service they have received from Dorset Police has fallen short of the mark, it is important that they’re able to raise their concerns with the Force. Not only does that give the Force an opportunity to put things right for them, it also provides valuable learning that can drive improvements to service delivery, both across the organisation and in relation to the performance of individual officers and staff. It may be that all a complainant wants is an explanation that they can easily understand or an apology – and an opportunity to speak with somebody who can get to the heart of their complaint.   

The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) holds the Chief Constable to account for the provision of a complaint handling service that is effective, efficient, fair, and accessible to everyone.   

Complaints Data

The complaint system in England and Wales is overseen by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). The IOPC collects data from all police forces about the type of complaints they are receiving, how long it takes them to look at what may have gone wrong and what the outcome of that complaint handling was. Each year, the IOPC publishes statistics about the complaints that forces have recorded.  They also produce quarterly performance data for all police forces.

You can view the IOPC’s quarterly complaints statistics for Dorset Police by clicking here:

Dorset Police | Independent Office for Police Conduct

You can view the IOPC’s annual statistics report by clicking here:

https://policeconduct.gov.uk/research-and-learning/statistics/police-complaints-statistics

Regular oversight of reliable complaints data enables the PCC to hold the Chief Constable to account for making sure that the Force handles complaints in an effective and efficient way that provides learning and helps to drive improvement. That service is undertaken by the Force’s Professional Standards Department (PSD), with delegated authority from the Chief Constable. 

How is complainant satisfaction measured?

We understand that any complainant is, by definition, dissatisfied with some aspect of the service they have received. It can therefore be challenging to measure complainant satisfaction objectively.  

Closely monitoring the number of review requests received against formally recorded complaints gives a reasonable indication of the number of complainants who still feel dissatisfied after the handling of their complaint has concluded.  From that measure, we can take a broad indication of the percentage of complainants who have felt satisfied with the handling and outcome of their complaint. At the time of publication, of 725 complaints formally recorded by Dorset Police in 2021, the PCC has received 79 valid requests for their complaint outcome to be reviewed – that’s 646 cases where the complainant has not felt they needed to exercise their right to review. Although it is by no means a perfect measure, this could be seen to indicate a current complainant satisfaction rate of 89%. 

In addition to this information, the OPCC and Force can assess satisfaction through the number of reviews upheld by the OPCC and IOPC, as applicable. National comparisons of these figures assist in benchmarking and are reviewed quarterly. Periodic audits of complaint handling are undertaken by SW Audit, with the last of these being conducted in September 2021.

Oversight of IOPC and HMICFRS Recommendations

The IOPC and HMICFRS produce a range of publications that share learning from their work.  This learning is fed back into policing to help ensure that where things go wrong, lessons are learnt and policies and practice, where that’s appropriate. 

Where cases are investigated by the IOPC, the IOPC publish anonymised investigation summaries which outline the circumstances which prompted the investigation, evidence gathered and conclusions of the investigation. Sometimes during the course of an investigation, the IOPC may identify areas for improvement which can result in learning recommendations. These are sent to the Chief Constable and shared with the PCC’s office who can then hold the Chief Constable to account for ensuring that they are responded to and implemented.  The Force provides the IOPC with a narrative in response to any learning recommendation which is also shared with the PCC.

You can view the IOPC’s learning recommendations to Dorset Police by clicking here:

Dorset Police | Independent Office for Police Conduct

You can view the HMICFRS latest assessments of Dorset Police by clicking here:

Dorset - HMICFRS (justiceinspectorates.gov.uk)

Currently, no relevant recommendations have been received.

Identifying Themes and Trends

PSD holds a five weekly tactical tasking and co-ordination group meeting where thematic trends and themes are raised and discussed to ensure that a suitable response is formulated. This includes attendance from HR and legal services.

Trends are reported to the quarterly Standards and Ethics Board, chaired by the Deputy Chief Constable, and are raised to the appropriate commander or equivalent if a specific area is identified. A PCC representative attends this Board.

Any recommendations from HMICFRS or the IOPC are reported to, recorded, and tracked by the Force Corporate Development department. PSD also record recommendations within the Force’s complaints recording software.

Any oversight issues (national themes) highlighted by the relevant review body will be reviewed by the head of complaints and an appropriate response initiated.

Monitoring and Improving Performance (Timeliness and Quality of Force Responses)

At a departmental level, this is reviewed every five weeks as part of the professional standards tactical tasking and co-ordination group meeting.

Improvements to this area include, in August 2021, the establishment of a service recovery team (Early Intervention Team). This consists of two staff dedicated to making early contact with complainants to attempt service recovery and early resolution (for those complaints that do not pass the misconduct threshold).

This has a direct impact upon timeliness and all misconduct investigations following a complaint now remain within the professional standards department.

The Qlik sense performance monitoring tool has been developed to provide real time analysis of complaints by several metrics including protected characteristics, geography, and many other categories. This automated extraction of complaint data enables timely assessments of performance in this area and comparison to national statistics.

Performance is further reviewed on a quarterly basis at the Standards and Ethics Board. A PCC representative attends this Board, which provides an opportunity for scrutiny of areas such as performance and culture.

There are a range of mechanisms in place to monitor and improve the quality of police responses to complaints.

Upon an OPCC review of any formal complaint, a determination report is shared with the Force PSD which details review findings. This critical feedback is shared with the Detective Chief Inspector within PSD who ensures that learning is shared in real time with complaint handlers to drive continuous improvement and reinforce the need for a consistently high level of customer service.

Aside from feedback provided as part of the OPCC review arrangements, the OPCC also oversees a periodic dip sample process of Force complaints. This was previously conducted as part of the Ethics and Appeals Committee but is now part of the newly established OPCC Use of Police Powers and Standards Scrutiny Panel. Feedback and learning from this dip sample is shared with PSD to aid learning and continuous improvement.

Further, the Force PSD is inspected by HMICFRS periodically. The Force also commission external auditors that dip sample and interrogate complaints. South West Audit’s last inspection was September 2021. As part of this process, they chose several complaints at random and reviewed in fine detail. At the end of the process a report is provided for the Force’s review and action.

Similarly, the IOPC provide recommendations to the Force following appeals and / or independent complaints and investigations.

12 Month Investigation Letters (Regulation 13 notifications)

Regulations place a duty on the Chief Constable to report to both the IOPC and the PCC when a local investigation is open for longer than 12 months (and at 6-month intervals thereafter).  A parallel duty is also placed on the IOPC to report its own investigations to the PCC, to ensure that the same scrutiny applies. The OPCC holds a database to monitor Regulation 13 letters to ensure that the reasons for delays in investigations are captured and understood. 

The scrutiny of Regulation 13 letters enables the PCC to hold the Chief Constable to account for the timeliness of Dorset Police investigations.  Over time, the information obtained may help to identify common factors which impact upon timeliness.  We know that sometimes those factors can sit outside the control of the Force, such as investigations which are held sub-judice whilst awaiting trial at court. 

There are currently (December 2021) 12 investigations within this category.

11 of these remain Sub-judices. Many have experienced lengthy periods of being sub-judices, which makes progression of the complaint challenging.

Administrative Arrangements

The PCC uses several approaches to hold the Chief Constable to account, some of which are delegated to appropriate members of his team at the OPCC, these include:

  • Weekly meetings with the Chief Officer team, attended by the PCC and his Executive team.
  • The Quarterly Standards and Ethics Board, Chaired by the Deputy Chief Constable; and
  • The Quarterly OPCC Use of Police Powers and Scrutiny Panel.

The Standards and Ethics meeting includes discussion and challenge regarding:

  • Current process and performance issues
  • Numbers of complaints / allegations
  • Upcoming Misconduct meetings / hearings
  • Outstanding Police Appeal tribunals
  • Customer journey and potential improvements
  • Reviews undertaken and identified issues
  • Structural / staffing changes.
  • Vetting
  • Counter Corruption
  • Misconduct
  • Complaints handling

A summary of the discussions at the Standards and Ethics Board will be published when available.

IOPC National Data

Recorded complaints and allegations have increased through 2020/21. This was anticipated due to the lower thresholds for recording complaints under the 2020 regulations.

PSD has introduced a service recovery team (Early Intervention Team). This consists of two staff dedicated to making early contact with complainants to attempt service recovery and early resolution (for those complaints that do not pass the misconduct threshold).

Further to this PSD has aimed to increase the proportion of complaints handled by dedicated PSD staff.

Complaints Against the Chief Constable

The PCC is the appropriate authority to handle a complaint only when it concerns the Chief Constable’s own person actions; that is, where the Chief Constable has had direct personal involvement in the allegations that have been raised.

When a complaint is made about the Chief Constable that does not relate to their own actions or personal conduct, the PCC is not the appropriate authority. In such cases, the OPCC must pass the complaint to the force, in line with statutory guidance.  Complainants are updated in writing when that happens, with an explanation of our assessment. 

Review of Police Complaints

Under the rules that govern the police complaints process, a complainant can ask for a review if they do not think that the outcome of their complaint is reasonable and proportionate.  Reviews are undertaken in accordance with relevant legislation and statutory guidance from the IOPC. It is important that the public can easily understand the review process and what the OPCC can and cannot do when carrying out a review. 

To view a copy of the IOPC statutory guidance click here https://www.policeconduct.gov.uk/

Timeliness

Whilst IOPC statutory guidance does not place a time limit within which a review must be carried out, we will acknowledge a review application within 5 working days and aim to complete a review within 30 working days. On conclusion of a review, we provide a final decision and review report to the applicant and we share a copy of the findings with Dorset Police. 

To date (December 2021) during 2021, the average duration of a review case from acknowledgement to completion is 45 working days.

Delegation, Impartiality, Transparency and Process Assurance

The Review process is managed by the OPCC Director of Operations, who acts with delegated authority from the PCC to assess and sign off final review decisions.

In order that the PCC can ensure and demonstrate complete impartiality, reviews are carried out by an independent Review Officer who scrutinises the handling of the complaint to ensure that the outcome is reasonable and proportionate.  In the event of a review being upheld, the Review Officer can also propose recommendations for further steps to ensure that the complaint is investigated appropriately.  Due diligence has been undertaken to ensure that the Review Officer we use is suitably trained in police professional standards and they are required to carry out continuing professional development at least annually. 

In making their determination, the Review Officer scrutinises the actions taken by Dorset Police to address the complaint; whether or not relevant legislation and guidance has been considered, whether the complaint was fully understood, whether the information or evidence obtained (during handling) was fairly and appropriately weighed, and any potential for learning. Having considered all the information available, including a complainant’s own representations, the independent reviewer produces a review report which details their findings and determination. This report is carefully considered by the Director of Operations at the OPCC before a final decision is signed off, providing an additional layer of quality assurance to ensure that review decisions are sound and in line with the requirements of the complaints legislation and statutory guidance. 

Our full Complaints Policy which details the types of complaints that will and will not be considered by the PCC can be accessed by clicking here


Complaints about Dorset Police (including complaints about individual officers or members of police staff)

Issues or complaints concerning Dorset Police, including a specific incident or matters relating to individual police officers or police staff members, must be directed to Dorset Police. Further information on how to make a complaint is available on the Dorset Police website.

The House of Commons has also published a helpful Briefing Paper explaining the police complaints systems in the UK. 

Whilst the PCC is responsible for holding the Chief Constable to account for the provision of efficient and effective complaints handling processes and systems, the PCC is not the appropriate authority for either handling and investigating individual complaints. 

In February 2020 legislation was introduced allowing the PCC to receive certain appeals against the outcomes of complaints reached by Dorset Police. 

The PCC's Complaints Review Officer is responsible for undertaking all reviews for complaints where the appeal authority is the PCC.  This process will be explained to you when you receive the outcome of your complaint.


Records management and personal data policies

Click on the links below to view the relevant policy:


Fileplans

The police service, including the OPCC, still currently works in accordance with the Government Security Classifications (GSC) policy which divides data into the following classifications:

  • Official
  • Secret
  • Top Secret

Further information on the GSC is available here.


Charging regimes and policies

Our charges for information are set out within our Publication Scheme. In summary, these are:

  • Material published and accessed on our website will be provided free of charge
  • Requests for multiple copies of publications or multiple printouts from our website or for copies of archived material no longer available on the website will attract a charge. The cost will be restricted to 10% of the reasonable marginal costs of complying with the request, together with photocopying costs (currently 10p per sheet) and postage.
  • Leaflets, booklets or periodicals published by the OPCC will be provided free of charge.
  • Bound paper copies, cassettes or other products will attract a charge.
  • Charges may also be made for making datasets (or parts of datasets) that are relevant copyright works available for re-use. These charges will be in accordance with either regulations made under section 11B of the Freedom of Information Act or other enactments.

Where a charge applies, the cost and the reasons for levying such a charge will be made known to you. Any charge will be payable in advance.

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