The number of complaints received by Cumbria Constabulary fell in 2018 – and improvements in technology and the training of officers could result in further reductions.
In 2017, there were 376 complaints recorded by the Constabulary. This figure has fallen to 315 in 2018. Of those complaints, the vast majority were resolved locally.
Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Jenny Beattie, head of Professional Standards, said: “Recording just 315 complaints from the public is remarkable when you consider the Constabulary experiences hundreds of thousands of contacts with the public each year.
“As a Cumbrian, I’m proud to live in a county that is a safe place to live, and as the head of Professional Standards, I’m proud of the conduct of our police officers and staff who work in highly complex and stressful situations every day and yet act with great integrity and professionalism. I am also proud that, on the occasions where mistakes are made, we work hard to identify what went wrong and what changes can be made to ensure such actions are not repeated.
“I firmly believe the Constabulary’s officers and staff have a better understanding today than ever before of the importance of simple things such as interacting with the public in a civil manner, keeping victims updated on the progress of their case and informing people of what options are open to them if they are unhappy with any decisions we have made, such as the decision not to charge a person.”
Body-worn video cameras are now worn routinely by all police officers across the Constabulary following a roll-out of the devices in July, 2018.
It is expected that the routine use of body-worn video will help drive further reductions in complaints against officers – particularly allegations of officers using excessive force.
Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Jenny Beattie, head of Professional Standards, said: “The routine use of body-worn video can swiftly resolve some complaints and prevent malicious or false complaints being made. Our officers also find that the cameras can prevent conflicts from escalating to the point where force may have to be used as people tend to modify their behaviour when they are aware they are being filmed.
“The figures are clearly encouraging. However, I can assure the public that we are not complacent and are always seeking to do more to ensure our officers are as professional and highly-trained as possible.
“We are also working to ensure that the public is well-informed regarding how they can go about making complaints or providing feedback about the Constabulary. Just this week we have taken steps to do just that by launching a new section on our website which will better explain to people the different options available to them and what they can expect once they have made a complaint.”
In 2018, Cumbria Constabulary’s Communication Centre took in excess of 200,000 calls, including 58,726 999 emergency phone calls.
Officers attended 65,925 incidents, making 9,710 arrests whilst more than 4,000 cases were prosecuted.
The new web page can be found here with information on how to make a complaint, different avenues for making a complaint and what you can expect from the process.