There are wide inconsistencies in the way police complaints are handled, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has said today after national police complaints statistics were published.

The IPCC has warned that there remain marked differences in the way police forces across England and Wales deal with complaints and more people are unhappy with how their complaint was handled.

In 2014/15, there were more than 37,000 complaints made against forces across England and Wales - a six per cent overall increase on the year before.

At the same time, the total number of appeals made by dissatisfied complainants increased by seven per cent.

In Essex, there were 1,153 complaints in total - a 24 per cent increase on the year before. The total number of appeals made by dissatisfied complainants was 172 – a five per cent decrease.

The statistics also reveal marked inconsistencies in whether forces investigated most complaints formally, or used more informal ‘local resolution’ processes.

Some forces investigated more than 70 of complaints while others used local resolution in over 70 per cent of cases.

In Essex 44 per cent of cases were investigated and 34 per centwere dealt with through the local resolution process.

Essex Police upheld 26 per cent of complaints and 13 per cent of its investigation appeals.

The IPCC upheld 37 per cent of appeals made about Essex Police complaint investigations.

On average, it took 134 days for Essex Police to resolve a complaint.

Dame Anne Owers, chair of the IPCC, said: “The figures for England and Wales show a complaints system that is both over-complex and inconsistent, and is clearly failing to satisfy a significant number of complainants. Chief Officers and Police and Crime Commissioners should look closely at the figures for their own forces to satisfy themselves that complainants are being treated fairly and well.

“However, the underlying problem is the system itself. We welcome the fact that the government proposes to bring in legislation to simplify and streamline a system that at present satisfies neither those who need it nor those who have to operate it.”