A POLICE and crime commissioner has described the police complaints system as “largely broken” after her force recorded a rise in such cases.

Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s PCC, said the system frequently failed both members of the public and the workforce itself.

According to a report by police watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission complaint cases rose in North Yorkshire by 14 per cent year-on-year.

Mrs Mulligan said she planned to take advantage of new legislation which will allow PCCs to become more directly involved in the complaints system.

She said: “The picture in North Yorkshire at the moment is mixed. Those working within complaints do a good job in a badly designed system.

“Complaints have risen recently, but we need to understand that fully and make sure it isn’t a sign of poor practice or bad service, or whether instead it signifies the public feel making a complaint is worthwhile.

“Either way, I intend to improve the system in the near future, putting customer service at the heart of what we do and making sure policing learns the lessons from poor practice, but also celebrates the good.”

North Yorkshire Police Deputy Chief Constable Lisa Winward said the majority of complaints which came into its professional standards unit were of a minor nature and resolved locally, a less formal way of dealing with less serious complaints.

She said: “Overall, the IPCC report is a positive indicator for North Yorkshire Police and should reassure members of the public that when they make complaints they will be appropriately investigated and resolved.”

Elsewhere, Northumbria Police also saw complaint cases rise by six per cent respectively in 2016/17.

Its Deputy Chief Constable Winton Keenen said it had made “real progress” in the way it dealt with complaints.

He said: “We are not complacent and recognise that with legislative changes on the way, there is more work to be done.

“We will always seek to further improve the confidence the public have in us and prevent cause for complaints in the first place.”

Two forces, Cleveland and Durham, experienced a significant year-on-year drop in complaint cases, down 25 per cent and 21 per cent.

Cleveland Police, which locally resolved 82 per cent of its complaint cases, also cut the time it takes to handle complaints.

The force, which has endured a number of scandals over recent years, now hopes to become a “national beacon” of best practice for police standards and ethics.

Deputy Chief Constable Simon Nickless said: “This report demonstrates the very positive work that has been undertaken over a number of years to improve the delivery of complaints investigations here at Cleveland Police.

“We are in the process of establishing a new, modern, framework which further transforms how we deal with complaints and investigations and these results show the progress we are making.”

Detective Superintendent Umberto Cuozzo, of Durham Police, said: “Local communities come to us in a time of need and if they feel that our service ever falls short, then we need to address this.

“We have a dedicated professional standards department, containing specialist police officers and staff who speak directly to complainants and work to resolve issues to their satisfaction.

“We need to recognise where we may have got something wrong, put it right and stop it happening again.”