Holding the Chief Constable to Account
When a member of the public feels that something’s gone wrong or that the service they’ve received from Humberside Police has fallen short of the mark, it’s really 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 they want 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 holds the Chief Constable to account for the provision of a complaint handling service that is effective, efficient, fair and accessible to everyone.
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 into what’s 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 Humberside Police by clicking here
You can view the IOPC’s annual statistics report by clicking here
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 1081 complaints formally recorded by Humberside Police in 2021, the PCC has received 173 valid requests for their complaint outcome to be reviewed – that’s 908 cases where the complainant has not felt they needed to exercise their right to review. This equates to a current complainant satisfaction rate of 84%.
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 Humberside Police by clicking here
You can view the HMICFRS latest assessments of Humberside Police by clicking here
Identifying Themes and Trends
The Detective Chief Inspector within PSD produces a monthly summary of the force’s complaint handling performance which includes allegation themes and trends, and recorded complaint categories. That analysis is reviewed by the PSD Senior Leadership Team and feeds into the Force’s Culture and Standards meeting, chaired by the Deputy Chief Constable. Data is then used at Force Command level to inform their responses and action plans. This data is shared with the PCC’s office.
Monitoring and Improving Performance (Timeliness and Quality of Force Responses)
The Detective Chief Inspector within PSD monitors the Force’s performance in respect of complaint handling on a daily basis. They hold regular meetings with both the (PSD) complaints handling team and the (PSD) administration team to discuss individual cases, ongoing developments and emerging issues, to improve the quality of service provided to the public.
Performance is reported on a monthly basis to the Head of PSD and IOPC data is reviewed on a quarterly basis. The Head of PSD produces a regular report for the Accountability Board which is chaired by the PCC and provides an opportunity for the PCC to scrutinise, support and challenge factors including performance, department structure and culture.
Upon review of any formal complaint by the OPCC, 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.
To access more information about the Accountability Board chaired by the PCC click here
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 enable the PCC to hold the Chief Constable to account for the timeliness of Humberside 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 subjudice whilst awaiting trial at court.
Since 1 February 2020, Humberside Police has issued two letters under Regulation 13 where an investigation has exceeded 12 months.
The PCC uses a number of approaches to hold the Chief Constable to account, some of which are delegated to appropriate members of his team at the OPCC and sit within the following framework:
- Weekly 1 – 1 with Chief Constable, attended by the PCC and CEO
- Monthly assurance meeting with PSD senior managers, attended by the OPCC Statutory Operations Manager and OPCC Head of Assurance
- Bi-monthly Accountability Board, chaired by the PCC and attended by OPCC senior managers, Force Chief Officers (including the Chief Constable) and Force Leadership Team.
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. This can happen if the concern raised relates to a delegated 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. We have produced a set of FAQs to assist the complainant’s understanding of the OPCC’s remit in complaint handling which are available on our website, and also provided with our correspondence where that might be helpful.
To view a copy of the OPCC’s FAQs about our remit in the complaints process click here
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’s really important that the public can easily understand the review process and what the OPCC can and cannot do when carrying out a review. To help with that understanding, we have produced a set of FAQs which are available on our website, and sent to out every time we receive a review application.
To view a copy of the IOPC statutory guidance click here
To view the OPCC’s FAQs about the Review process click here
To submit a review request click here
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 findings with Humberside Police.
To date during 2021, the average duration of a review case from acknowledgement to completion is 12.5 working days.
Delegation, Impartiality, Transparency and Process Assurance
The Review process is managed by the OPCC Statutory Operations Manager, 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 (IRO) 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 IRO can also propose recommendations for further steps to ensure that the complaint is investigated appropriately. Due diligence has been undertaken to ensure that the IRO 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 IRO scrutinises the actions taken by Humberside 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 of 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 Statutory Operations Manager at the OPCC before a final decision is signed off, providing an additional layer of quality assurance to ensure that review deicisons are sound and in line with the requirements of the complaints legisation and statutory guidance.
Review outcomes are published quarterly by the OPCC. The information that we publish on our website provides an open and transparent overview of the cases we have dealt with, including the original complaint allegations and outcome of complaint handling, the duration and outcome of the review and details of any recommendations we have made to Humberside Police.
To view the PCC’s review transparency log click here