There are inconsistencies in how police forces across Wales handle public complaints, new data has revealed.
Figures released by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) show 1,783 complaints were recorded in Wales in 2016/17 - South Wales police recording the highest proportion with 770.
Dyfed Powys Police recorded 274 complaints, Gwent Police recorded 287, and North Wales Police recorded 452.
However, the data shows variation between forces in how complaints were handled and the time taken to finalise them.
Gwent Police had the highest percentage of recording complaints in the recommended time of 10 days, followed by South Wales Police with 88%.
Gwent Police investigated 56% of their complaints and Dyfed Powys Police had the lowest record.
The biggest variation is in the number of days, on average, it took for each police force to finalise complaints.
Dyfed Powys Police took the longest to both finalise complaints. It took the force 103 days on average to finalise local resolutions, and 193 days to finalise local investigations. In comparison, Gwent Police took the least time, with 27 days on average to finalise local resolutions, and 122 days to finalise local investigations.
The IPCC say there are three main areas of inconsistency in the approach to handling complaints:
- The number of recorded complaints may not reflect the whole picture, as some forces address issues before they're recorded formally, whereas others record them as soon as it's raised.
- Some choose to formally investigate most complaints, while others use the less formal ‘local resolution’ process.
- A dissatisfied complainant's appeal is dealt with by either the force, or the IPCC. The IPCC upholds four out of ten appeals but the police uphold fewer than two out of ten.
They have repeatedly called for a more simplified system with a more consistent approach across all forces in the UK.
In 2018, Police and crime commissioners will take on greater responsibility by making decisions on appeals that do not go to the IPCC, as part of significant changes to the police complaints system.
The changes will look to make the system more more flexible, consistent, and independent.