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Stop Police abusing the complaint system by blocking IPCC investigations

This petition had 765 supporters

We, the undersigned, are opposed to how UK police are able to and do abuse the complaints system, namely how there is currently no authority (and this includes the Independent Police Complaint Commission or 'IPCC') to overlook or review police decisions for the following complaints categories.

  1. Local Resolution, and
  2. Local Investigation 

We call on you to: 

  • Review the current IPCC guidelines for recording complaints.
  • Understand the issues in the current processes and how this opens up opportunities for abuse of the system.
  • Call for a process to allow appeals to the complaint category decisions.
  • Help bring about change and make the PSD (the police internal Professional Standards Department) accountable to the IPCC for incorrectly categorising complaints as Local Resolution.


Currently the UK Police forces have IPCC guidelines in place for recording complaints against their offences but there is a serious flaw.

When a complaint is made against a police officer, the complaint is first assessed by what is called ‘an appropriate authority’ (usually a senior officer within professional standards) who must decide if the complaint should be recorded as a 'Local Resolution' or as a 'Local Investigation'.  To do this, the appropriate authority must follow the IPCC Focus Guidelines

Local Resolution

Local resolution is a process designed to handle complaints by resolving, or simply clearing up a matter directly with the complainant without any further action. The complainant’s consent is not needed and as such, police favour this choice as it cannot be appealed to the IPCC.

Significantly, the IPCC have no authority in the decision making process despite being the official body detailing the guidelines. It is important to note that if a complaint is dealt with by Local Resolution, the appeal is to the Chief Constable only, meaning it is possible for the Police force to cover up the conduct complained about without scrutiny of the IPCC. Once the appeals process has been completed, there is nowhere for the complainant to go.

Taking into consideration that the local resolution process isn’t investigated by anyone, it is significant that complaints against police officers under this category cannot currently receive misconduct or criminal penalties. Sadly, in too many cases, PSD wrongly record cases of misconduct as Local Resolution cases to avoid any potential interaction with the IPCC, in turn covering up misconduct without any consequences.

We hereby suggest that Police officers often consciously choose to mis-categorise complaints for fear of the repercussions against themselves or colleagues.


Local Investigation

In contrast, if a complaint is made that alleges anything that ‘if proven’ would result in criminal or disciplinary procedures then it must be recorded as a Local Investigation, not a Local Resolution. This route allows for an independent appeal to the IPCC which we suggest, isn’t favoured by the Police force as they are subjected to further independent investigation.

Of course, while some complaints are classified as genuine Local Investigation cases, there is a vast amount of evidence pointing to the fact the Police ‘abuse’ this system and declassify complaints based on their own concerns.  


Explaining the issue

The difference between 'Local Resolution' and 'Local Investigation' is that with the Local Resolution process, there is no possibility of the officer(s) in question facing disciplinary and/or criminal proceedings - this is only possible where there is an investigation. The decisive point is simple and unfortunately, herein lies the issue.

The PSD makes a decision based on the IPCC guidelines however they cannot be questioned or appeal against a wrong category decision which has a huge impact on the complaint outcome.

A statutory policy, as detailed by the Home Office, MUST be followed when recording complaints and each Police force across the UK also has an internal policy which they must adhere to when categorising any complaints received. However, in reality this system is all too often abused by the Police and cannot be challenged.

In some instances they act with impunity and it unfortunately goes unchecked, with many officers committing the criminal offence of Perverting the Course of Justice in a Public Office - one offence which all too often has no consequences.

Our goal

What we are asking is that statute law changes with regards to these Local Resolution complaints. We wish to bring about change so that PSD are accountable to the IPCC for challenges to category decisions made by PSD.

We strongly believe that if there are clearly defined consequences for those who wrongly record and categorise complaints then the complaints system as a whole will be abused far less than it currently is.


How you can make a difference

Choosing to sign this petition is a positive step towards trying to obtain justice for the victims of institutional abuse. Across time, the PSD have covered up many instances of misconduct, resulting in miscarriages of justice and victimisation to innocent individuals.

Together we can bring about change and ensure corrupt officers face the consequences of their actions and allow the decent officers to continue protecting the general public.

This petition was written by:
Hannah Chesterfield -
‎Freelance Copywriter

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