Police Reform Act 2002 Explanatory Notes

Section 12: Complaints, matters and persons to which Part 2 applies

62.The intention is that any conduct of a person serving with the police which has an adverse effect on a member of the public or is sufficiently serious to bring the police into disrepute, whether the subject of a complaint or not, should be dealt with effectively and efficiently in order that public confidence in the police can be maintained. Therefore, this Part applies to any complaint or other conduct matter to do with a person serving with the police. This departs from the 1996 Act insofar as it gives equal prominence to the handling of non-complaint cases as it does to complaint cases. Definitions of terms used here are:

  • A person serving with the police is described in subsection (7) as a member of a police force or a civilian employee of a police authority who is under the direction and control of a chief officer or a special constable who is under the direction and control of a chief officer. This provides a much wider coverage than the 1996 Act, which restricted complaints to regular police officers.

  • A person adversely affected is described in section 29(5) as a person who has suffered any form of loss or damage, distress or inconvenience, if he is put in danger or if he is unduly put at risk of being adversely affected.

  • Subsection (2) describes a conduct matter as any matter that is not the subject of a complaint but where a person serving with the police may have committed a criminal offence or behaved in a manner which may justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings.

63.Subsection (1) defines a complaint to which this Part will apply as one that is made by a member of the public who is the victim of the alleged conduct or who claims to have been adversely affected by the conduct or who claims to have witnessed the conduct or is a person acting on behalf of any of these. This provision is qualified by:

  • Subsections (3) & (4) for a person who claims to have been adversely affected by the conduct;

  • Subsection (5) for a person who claims to have witnessed the conduct;

  • Subsection (6) for a person acting on behalf of any of the above; and

  • Section 29(3) and 29(4), which contain inclusions and exclusions to ‘a member of the public’.

64.Subsection (6)(a) enables the Commission to widen access to the complaints system by approving specific organisations or types of individuals to act as ‘gateways’ into the system for prospective complainants. The intention here is to target appropriate organisations or appropriate types of individuals who have significant and regular contact with members of the public.

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