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Friday, 19 September 2014

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Cumbria Police chiefs react to complaints rise

BUSIER bobbies are behind an increase in complaints, Cumbria police have claimed.

Figures released this week ahead of the Cumbria police and crime commissioner’s executive board showed an increase in complaints received against the force.

But both Bernard Lawson, temporary chief constable, and Jerry Graham, assistant chief constable, said the increase was to be seen as a result of busier periods and the Independent Police Complaints Commission actively encouraging the public to log complaints.

The total number of complaints received from November 2012 to December 13 was 372 compared to 303 for the same period last year.

Of these complaints 169 were for alleged unprofessional conduct, 67 were for alleged oppressive behaviour, 25 for alleged malpractice, 62 for alleged incivility and 34 for alleged breaches of the peace.

Mr Graham said: “The IPCC has encouraged forces to record more (complaints) and they regard more complaints as a marker of greater public confidence.

“If you look at the month-on-month and at the ebb and flow of crime figures there was an increase this year in the months from March and it peaked in July.

“I’m hypothesising but based on calls to Cumbria Constabulary the greater number of incidents would have led to more actions and this would have inevitably meant more allegations.”

Mr Graham said while every complaint received by police was taken seriously a number of complaints had been recorded that he felt would not be lodged in previous years.

Mr Graham revealed two allegations of racism were included in the figures – one had been dismissed while a second is still under investigation. The meeting heard how the force has narrowly failed to meet targets for resolving the complaints, with directives saying 94.7 per cent of complaints received should be resolved within 120 days while Cumbria police has met 92.09 per cent.

Mr Lawson said the “transitory nature” of Cumbria with a booming tourist industry made it difficult to resolve all complaints quickly.

Richard Rhodes, police and crime commissioner, said: “I accept the notion that more activity leads to more complaints.”

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