This update is to share statistics and themes emerging from feedback we have received from the public in September, October and November 2022.
We also want to let you know how we have responded to them.
We understand that feedback from the public does not give us a complete picture of the public perception of us, however it does inform our work and improve our practices.
In total we received 387 dissatisfaction reports, 66 messages of thanks and 66 general or other feedback reports during this three month period. Please note that not all of the 387 dissatisfaction reports resulted in formal complaints about the police. The work of our team is to listen to feedback on a range of policing matters – and to learn from dissatisfaction, no matter how big or small. We also learn from positive feedback – from what we have done well.
The chart above shows the number of feedback reports for this period. The drop in reports from September to November reflects the tailing off of summer demand, which happens nationally each year. Less incidents generally means less feedback for us. Overall this year there has been a rise in complaints compared to last year, although this rise has also been reflected nationally. In the UK the total volume of complaints rose by 11%. There are a number of contributing factors, one of these being that it is now easier to make complaints about the police – and certainly in Gloucestershire constabulary we actively encourage the public to let us know if they are unhappy with our service, so that we can address things, learn, and improve.
Types of incident related to dissatisfaction
The chart above shows the type of incidents that reports of dissatisfaction related to. Nearly a quarter of which were roads and traffic incidents. This is partly because this is a broad category and applies to anything that takes place on a public road: from someone reporting dissatisfaction with a speeding ticket; to someone unhappy at the speed of a police car; to a complaint relating to a vehicle seizure. The latter point has attracted more complaints than usual and, as a result, our team are seeking internal training to understand the process of vehicles recovery and seizure so that we can be better informed to both advice the public and to manage expectations.
The second highest amount of dissatisfaction related to being arrested. Very often this is a member of the public who is unhappy that they have been arrested. As such, for cases that are still under investigation, we are usually unable to investigate a complaint until the case is closed. We do take any allegations of excess use of force during arrest very seriously and these will be investigated as a formal complaint by our Professional Standards Team.
10% of dissatisfaction reports relate to reported incidents of domestic abuse and 10% relate to neighbourhood disputes. Our team are trained to identify any additional threat, harm or risk to a member of public in such cases, and one of our team has received specialist training as a Domestic Abuse Champion, so in addition to managing a complaint we can offer sound advice, signposting and have insight into some of the common risk factors in such cases.
Causes for complaint
The biggest cause for dissatisfaction from the public during September, October and November 2022 in Gloucestershire is lack of contact either following the reporting of a crime or during an investigation. Nationally the most commonly recorded complaint type is related to delivery of duties and service. These often relate to service delivery complaints such as a lack of updates or delays in responses, rather than concerns around police misconduct.
During high demand for emergency services in the summer and into September, we received increased complaints about delayed responses and the knock on effect of the unprecedented demand often meant officers were also delayed in making investigations or making contact with victims during investigations. Support for victims generally is something that Gloucestershire Constabulary are working on improving – and knowing how victims feel about the service they receive can input directly to these improvements. In our team a third of all people we engage with are victims. In responding to complaints:
Our team continue to prompt contact where it is missing.
We have liaised with Victim Support the Constabulary’s Victim Strategic Coordinator on planned improvements on victim services, ensuring that we collaborate wherever possible.
We signpost victims to relevant support organisations and ensure they are aware of the Victim’s Code of Practice
Another cause for concern for victims has been that crimes cases have been closed with no action taken. When we receive a complaint like this, we first check whether a victim qualifies for the Victim’s Right to Review. We can also ask a police supervisor to assess the actions that have been carried out to check correct process has been applied. Sometimes as a result, cases have been re-opened. Where they haven’t been re-opened, we have gone to great lengths to explain why crimes are not being investigated. We have also up-skilled one member of our team in the process of recording a crime to have better insight into the issue.
Over this time period we have seen a number of complaints relating to officer’s body worn video. Some members of the public are not happy to be filmed, others are not happy that an incident hasn’t been filmed. There are guidelines for officers on the use of body worn video footage and our team is now familiar with the Constabulary policy. Generally, our team encourages officers to use body worn video where possible – it acts as valuable evidence and ensures officers are adhering to professional standards.
As a Constabulary, we also take note of positive feedback we get from the public. Not only is this good for morale – which in turn improves performance, but we can also learn from our strengths and best practice.
The data above shows that the most thanked about incidents relate to our handling of death and concerns for people’s welfare, this includes missing people. It is remarkable how, even at the most difficult times, those involved take the time and trouble to send us a thank you. The second most thanked about incident type in this time period has been for roads and traffic – the majority of which is assistance we have provided at the roadside or following a collision. Clearly this area of policing is an emotive issue for the public, as this attracts complaints too. It is where police are most visible.
We were also very pleased to get positive feedback about police work from victims of domestic abuse. As above, we take reports of this type of crime seriously, so it is important that we understand and learn from where we are getting it right. We have used some feedback from victims in training and to inform “what good looks like” going forward.
Future plans and better engagement
With this in mind, in 2023 we want to be better engaged with more of a diverse range of people. Without knowing (and recording) our strengths and weaknesses from ALL the public’s viewpoint, we can’t understand, learn or address them.
As ever if you have any thoughts about this update, or feedback to report, you can visit our thanks and complaints page.