Drop in misconduct allegations against Bedfordshire police latest figures reveal

Fewer misconduct allegations were made last year
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More than four in five allegations made against Bedfordshire Police officers last year resulted in no misconduct action, new figures show.

Home Office figures show 862 misconduct allegations were made against Bedfordshire Police officers and handled under the formal complaints process in the year to March 2023 – down from 1,073 the year before.

Of these, 856 were either not investigated, or investigated not subject to special procedures, with 719 (84%) resulting in no further action.

Allegations against Bedfordshire Police have dropped in the past year - stock photoAllegations against Bedfordshire Police have dropped in the past year - stock photo
Allegations against Bedfordshire Police have dropped in the past year - stock photo

None of the allegations led to misconduct proceedings, while 14 were withdrawn.

The figures cover the total number of allegations rather than the number of complaints – one complaint could contain several allegations of misconduct. They do not cover any complaints handled outside the formal process, where it was felt a detailed inquiry was not needed.

In a statement, Bedfordshire Police said: “The public rightly expect the highest levels of integrity from policing and the vast majority of our officers and staff go the extra mile every day to keep the public safe."However, there are some cases that undermine that effort and erode trust and confidence, which is why we are working relentlessly to identify and root out anyone who betrays those expectations."Every complaint is reviewed by our tri-force Professional Standards Department to assess whether conduct falls below the expected standards of behaviour and whether it requires further conduct or criminal investigation. This is alongside our own internal processes and reviews. That approach has resulted in 13 officers being dismissed (or would have been if they had not already resigned) for gross misconduct since the start of 2023.The force added: “We have invested heavily in improving our culture, and encourage our workforce to call out concerns about colleagues at an early stage, particularly in relation to any form of violence against women and girls, which remains a key focus for us to tackle.”

Across England and Wales, the proportion of allegations not seeing further action remained unchanged from the year before at 89%.

There were 86,160 complaint allegations involving police officers in the country last year – fewer than 87,768 the year before.

Oliver Feeley-Sprague, Amnesty International UK’s military, security and police programme director, said: “Police accountability cannot function in a system where the police are largely responsible for investigating themselves.

“Given growing concerns over police conduct, particularly with over-policing of marginalised communities, we need to ensure there is better independent oversight where complaints are thoroughly investigated, people need to have confidence that misconduct is taken seriously, and that police officers don’t operate in a climate of near impunity.”

Nationally, there was a 33% rise in the number of “recordable conduct matter” allegations, from 1,802 in 2021-22 to 2,402 last year. These are complaints where it is alleged a police officer's conduct resulted in a death or serious injury.

Emmanuelle Andrews, policy and campaigns manager at Liberty, said: “It’s really concerning to see such a high number of allegations of misconduct against the police, and that so many of them have no action taken.

“We all deserve to be treated fairly and with respect, but unfortunately we know that sexism, racism and violence run through British policing.”

The figures show 28 “recordable conduct matter” allegations were made against Bedfordshire Police officers, with 13 referred to misconduct proceedings, while no action was required in seven of them.

Ms Andrews added: “Particularly worrying is the high number of alleged incidents which involve police conduct resulting in death or serious injury. Too many people in our communities are being harmed or killed by the police, with victims and their families having to spend years battling for justice.”

There were 5,363 allegations of “conduct matter” made against police forces nationally, 68 of which were in Bedfordshire. These are allegations indicating an officer may have committed a criminal offence or behaved in a way that would justify disciplinary proceedings.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct, which investigates the most serious police misconduct allegations, said not all complaints relate to alleged misconduct, but could simply be an expression of dissatisfaction, with no further action required.

A spokesperson said: “Changes to the complaints system, which included widening the definition of a complaint, have had the expected result of increasing the number of complaints recorded by force in recent years.

“The law also recognises that many complaints will not require a lengthy investigation and a range of options, such as organisational or individual learning, as well providing an explanation or apology, are available to resolve these.

“We continue to work with professional standards departments to help improve initial complaint handling, which will benefit both the police and the public.

“Complainants have a right of review into the handling of their complaint, which in the most serious cases would come to us. This ensures there is oversight of the system, and allows us to identify and address trends and themes in complaints handling where necessary.”