More than 600 complaints are made against South Yorkshire Police

The number of complaints against South Yorkshire Police rose slightly last year
The number of complaints against South Yorkshire Police rose slightly last year

More than 600 complaints were recorded by South Yorkshire Police last year, it has emerged, as greater consistency was demanded in the way allegations are handled.

The number of complaints against the force rose slightly to 607 in 2016/17, from 602 the previous year, statistics from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) reveal.

The number of individual allegations made within those complaints, however, fell marginally from 1,170 to 1,161.

More than three fifths of allegations against South Yorkshire Police were resolved locally, using a less formal process, but just over a fifth were formally investigated by the force.

Chief officers at the force considered 57 appeals, just four of which were upheld.

But of 63 appeals completed by the IPCC, 22 were upheld, which is more than a third.

Nationally, the police watchdog upheld 40 per cent of appeals it investigated last year, while chief officers at forces across the country upheld 16 per cent.

The IPCC today called for greater consistency in the way police handle complaints, as it published its annual report on the outcome of allegations.

It said changes to the police complaints system next year would include a greater role for police and crime commissioners, who will decide on appeals which do not go to the IPCC, but claimed greater assurance was needed for complainants.

Dame Anne Owers, who chairs the watchdog, said: "While some local variation is unavoidable, it is clear that some forces need to look closely at their own performance and approach, where it is clearly at odds with the norm. It is welcome that some forces have done this during last year, sometimes with the assistance of our own oversight team.

"The new system will be simpler and more flexible, and will also provide an independent appeal right for everyone, either to the IPCC or to a police and crime commissioner. This is welcome, but we will still need to ensure that complainants throughout the country can be assured that their complaints will be handled appropriately and thoroughly.

"We look forward to working with police and crime commissioners as they take on greater responsibility for complaints in their areas, to share knowledge and ensure effective and consistent oversight of the police complaints system."

Across England and Wales, the number of complaints recorded by police fell slightly to 34,103 last year, from 34,247 in 2015/16.