Updated: Saturday, 25th January 2020 @ 8:25am

GMP discrimination complaints are 'poorly handled and cause for concern’ – police watchdog

GMP discrimination complaints are 'poorly handled and cause for concern’ – police watchdog

| By Kenny Lomas

The 'poorly handled' way discrimination cases are dealt with by Greater Manchester Police are ‘a clear cause for concern’, the police watchdog has said.

GMP are one of three forces which have displayed significant failings in the way allegations of discrimination by the public are handled, according to a report from the Independent Police Complaints Commission

IPCC examined how cases were handled by the West Midlands, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire forces.

The commission found the majority complaints, mostly of racial discrimination, were ‘poorly handled’ from beginning to end.

Dame Anne Owers, chair of the IPCC, said: "Our findings are stark – generally complaints of discrimination made by members of the public are poorly handled from beginning to end.

"It is vital that police forces deal effectively with allegations of discrimination.

"We recognise there are some improvements to be made and we are well advanced with that work, significant changes having taken place since the time this data was collected.”

Complaints made against police officers by the public were often dismissed, the IPCC said.

Out of the 170 complaints looked at by the IPCC, none were upheld, and only 94 were investigated.

However, the 32 allegations of discrimination from police officers against their colleagues, half were upheld.

The IPCC found that overall, the three forces upheld between 11% and 13% of complaint allegations from the public.

The report blamed many of the complaints on a lack of up-to-date training in diversity issues.

"The police in these force areas do not appear to have a good understanding of the diverse communities they serve," the report said.

The report also concluded that local resolution was inappropriately used in cases which needed to be investigated because if upheld they might have led to misconduct or criminal proceedings.

Cases handled at local level rather than by professional standards procedures rose to two-thirds and a half respectively.

The IPCC concluded 60% of local resolutions and 44% of investigations across the three forces did not meet basic standards.

Speaking as the report was published, Greater Manchester's Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said: "This is a hard-hitting report, but I welcome it because it is vital that there's confidence in the process.

"I've been concerned about this since before I was elected Police and Crime Commissioner and it has been a priority for me to make real changes."

Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Rumney, head of GMP’s Professional Standard’s Branch, said: "The IPCC report is a clear cause for concern and I welcome the scrutiny placed on this important issue.

“The current system focuses on whether the behaviour that resulted in the complaint can be proven to have happened and in a vast majority of cases it simply comes down to one word against another, meaning many cases cannot be substantiated.

"That is why change and improvement must be made and that is why most of the recommendations within the report have already been implemented by Greater Manchester Police and our action plan will be shared with the IPCC.”

In addition to implementing these recommendations, there will now also be a review of how discrimination and other public complaints are handled, Det Ch Supt Rumney said.

He also revealed GMP has been trialling the use of body worn cameras for staff dealing with public order, domestic abuse and other violence.

“The cameras have the potential to support complaints as well as disprove malicious allegations and the Professional Standards Branch would like to see the use of body worn video extended.

“I am pleased that our ‘cooperation and willingness to learn’ has been acknowledged within the report and our commitment to implement change for the better is further reflected in the work the Force is doing with the Police and Crime Commissioner in relation to the introduction of an ethics committee and appointment of an independent ombudsman.

“We know there is a lot of work to be done but we are absolutely determined to make our system more accessible, timely and effective both for the public making complaints and the officers subject of them.”