Since February 2020, Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) have taken a more active role in the police complaint and subsequent police complaint review process.
In line with Home Office legislation, all PCCs must choose a system referred to as a “model” to enable them to properly oversee and monitor the police complaints system.
Here in Merseyside, the Police Commissioner adopted Model One of the system - this means the Commissioner deals directly with all complaints against the Chief Constable and has an oversight role in relation to all other police complaints - working closely with Merseyside Police Professional Standards Department to ensure that all complaints are dealt with transparently and in a timely fashion.
The Police Commissioner's team review all complaints where they are named as the Relevant Review Body.
At the conclusion of the complaint process, all complainants are given a right of review to either the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) or to the Police Commissioner (depending on the specific details of their complaint) if they remain dissatisfied with the way their complaint was handled and/or investigated or if they are dissatisfied with the outcome.
The Police Commissioner has appointed a Complaint Reviews Adjudicator with the relevant qualifications, knowledge and experience to work closely with her Chief Executive to ensure that the complaint reviews process adheres strictly to clear legislation and guidance and to ensure quality, integrity and impartiality in the handling of each and every review.
All reviews are carried out in an open, transparent way and in line with the strict complaints legislation and IOPC Statutory Guidance. The complaints review team have regular meetings with the IOPC and members of the Merseyside Police Professional Standards Department where they discuss specific cases of note, complaint and review trends and any specific or recurring issues.
Reviews dealt with by the Police Commissioner
|Time period||Number of reviews||Reviews not upheld||Reviews upheld||Reasons for upholding reviews||Average number of working days taken to deal with reviews|
|1st February 2020 - 31st May 2021||80||65||15 (representing 18.75%)||Inaccurate complaint recording decisions, further enquiries and/or investigation required, apology to be provided and/or learning outcome to be raised/implemented.||16|
|1st April - 31st July 2021||21||10||6||Register of Complaint Reviews|
The only avenue available to a complainant at the conclusion of the review process is to apply to the courts for a Judicial Review of the decisions made.
To date there is no record of any complainant having applied for a Judicial Review in respect of a complaint review decision carried out by Merseyside PCC.
The Police Commissioner does have a record of 3 specific complainants contacting the office at the conclusion of the review process to thank the review staff involved in the process for addressing their review to a satisfactory standard.
Unlike the IOPC who have the power to direct Merseyside Police to carry out their instructions at the conclusion of the complaint/review process the OPCC has no such power and can only make recommendations.
However, it is worthy of note that to date Merseyside Police have agreed with all recommendations made by the OPCC and have carried out all actions in relation to those recommendations.
The Police Commissioner and her team continue to actively encourage complainants to lodge a request for a review should they remain dissatisfied with the complaint process.