Police deal ‘poorly’ with race complaints

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COMPLAINTS about discrimination by officers at West Yorkshire Police are “poorly handled from beginning to end”, according to a highly critical watchdog’s report.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission says there are “significant failings” in the way the force and two other major urban constabularies deal with discrimination claims from the public, mostly relating to race.

Officials examined a sample of 202 cases where allegations were made against officers from West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, after last year publishing a damning report about the Metropolitan Police’s performance on the same issue.

One section, refuted by West Yorkshire Police bosses, claims: “Police in these force areas do not appear to have a good understanding of the diverse communities they serve.”

Across the three forces, the report suggests allegations of discrimination are taken more seriously when claims come from the police themselves than those from the public.

Of the 170 complaints from the public alleging discrimination only 94 were investigated and of those none were upheld, despite the forces upholding up to 13 per cent of allegations from the public overall.

Eighty per cent of cases were not properly assessed, failing to take into account the gravity of the complaint or the officer’s previous record, while nearly half the investigations did not meet basic standards.

The report said the number of cases where officers had reported their colleagues was lower for West Yorkshire Police than the other two forces, adding: “This is a cause for concern.”

IPCC Chair Dame Anne Owers said: “Our findings are stark - generally complaints of discrimination made by members of the public are poorly handled from beginning to end – in relation to the way the complaint is investigated, the conclusions drawn and the contact with the complainant.

The IPCC also invited groups such as Leeds Race Card Project and JUST West Yorkshire to take part in focus groups and offer feedback on their local force.

West Yorkshire Police’s deputy chief constable Dee Collins said: “We are very disappointed with the suggestion that we are ‘failing at every stage’, however 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.”

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