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Police Reform Act 2002

Paragraph 6: Handling of complaints by the appropriate authority

75.Under the provisions of the 1996 Act, about a third of all complaints are resolved locally. This process provides a speedy resolution as an alternative to full investigations in those cases of a less serious nature. There is a continuing need and substantial support for not only retention of this process but also for its extended use to enable more complaints to be resolved locally. Under the new system, it is intended to be more widely applied to include those complaints arising from minor acts of misconduct instead of resorting in such a case to a costly formal investigation. However, in order to avoid abuse of the process, the appropriate authority will be required to apply to the Commission for dispensation to deal with such a case by local resolution.

76.This paragraph deals with a complaint which has been recorded by the appropriate authority but not referred to the Commission (under paragraph 4) or it has been referred to the Commission but also referred back from the Commission (under paragraph 5).

77.Sub-paragraph (2) requires the appropriate authority to determine how such a complaint should be handled, either by local resolution or by investigation. Use of local resolution will need the consent of the complainant in every case and, before giving his consent, he must be informed of the procedural requirements and of his right of appeal under paragraph 9. Sub-paragraph (7) prevents the withdrawal of a consent once the local resolution process has begun.

78.Sub-paragraph (3) describes a complaint as being suitable for local resolution if the conduct complained of, even if proved, would not lead to criminal or disciplinary proceedings or the Commission has approved the use of local resolution.

79.Extending the use of local resolution is provided for in sub-paragraph (4) which enables the Commission to approve the use of local resolution on application by the appropriate authority if it is satisfied:

  • that the conduct, even if proved, would not justify the bringing of criminal proceedings and, in the case of any disciplinary proceedings, would lead only to minor punishments; e.g. written warning or less severe punishments (reprimand, caution, no action).

  • that even if a complaint is thoroughly investigated, there is no prospect of obtaining the necessary evidence for a criminal conviction or a disciplinary conviction which would result in dismissal, requirement to resign or retire, a reduction in rank or a demotion or the imposition of a fine.

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