‘Get it right first time’ is the message to West Yorkshire Police following an independent review into the Force’s handling of complaints and conduct.
The Crawford Review, published yesterday, said the local force “has something of a reputation for having in the past not responded adequately to complaints”.
And while it did not go as far as making reccomendations, it did offer ‘some final thoughts’ on the results of the four-month probe.
The review was commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for West Yorkshire, Mark Burns-Williamson. He said: “I was very pleased to note from Catherine Crawford’s accompanying letter that, while it has suffered historically from a reputation for responding ‘inadequately’ to complaints, West Yorkshire Police is not significantly different from other comparable forces and the review found nothing of concern that is specific to West Yorkshire.
“I was also greatly reassured to receive the report’s unequivocal finding that my staff and I take our responsibilities in respect of complaints very seriously.”
The review, by the former chief executive of the Metropolitan Police Authority, did not look at past cases and offered no formal recommendations because they can “quickly become sterile and outdated”.
Miss Crawford said: “My overall conclusion is that there is no fundamental problem, unique to West Yorkshire, in the management and handling of complaints within the Force.
“There is a historic cultural context which inevitably affects perception and probably public confidence in the handling of complaints and this is a continuing reputational challenge which cannot be overturned overnight.”
The review said it was vital that there was a fair, transparent and responsive system for handling complaints, criticisms and allegations.
It said complex regulations around handling complaints “does no-one any favours” but until such national regulations were overhauled “West Yorkshire, like all other PCCs and forces, have to do the best they can to give the best possible service to the public.”
The report said that agencies which deal with complaints, including the PCC and Chief Constable, should not “thwart each other.”
“Get it right first time. In every one of the most superficially exasperating ongoing grievances something went wrong early on.”
The report concluded that it was “intended very much as a means of instigating further discussion and exploration rather than an end of the process.”