WILTSHIRE Police are taking longer each year to resolve complaints made by the public in a timely manner according to new statistics.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has released its annual force complaints figures which show that in the last year, officers in the county received 663 complaints.

But while that figure was down compared to 2015/16, the time it took Wiltshire Police to finalise and resolve the complaints was almost double the national average.

According to IPCC’s report, the average time taken to finalise allegations by local investigation nationally is 166 days.

However, there was considerable variation between forces and nine forces took more than 200 working days to finalise allegations.

In Wiltshire Police’s case, this figure was 299.

Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said: “I have appointed an independent appeals adjudicator to help me to monitor complaints made against Wiltshire Police officers and staff and to intervene where complainants have not been satisfied with the outcome of a complaint to the Force.

“I am pleased to see a drop in the number of complaints made against Wiltshire Police and that it is one of the top performing forces when it comes to the speed of recording complaints.

“As far as the number of days taken to finalise investigations, a technical issue meant that, although cases had been finalised and complainants had been informed of the outcome, the data sent to the IPCC did not accurately reflect the position.

“Wiltshire Police has been in contact with IPCC to explain the issue and the expectation is that future returns will accurately reflect the true state of affairs.”

Across England and Wales, 18 police forces took longer to locally investigate allegations in 2016/17 than in 2015/16. Of these 18, Wiltshire Police was just one of four forces that have taken longer each year for the past four years.

A number of cases were dealt with by ‘local resolution’ for less serious complaints, such as rudeness or incivility, by providing an explanation or information; an apology on behalf of the force; a written explanation of the circumstances and any action taken.

Of 598 allegations, it took Wiltshire Police on average 100 days to finalise the complaint – well above the national average of 67 days.

The IPCC say nationally there is a great deal of variation between forces, both in the number of complaints and the way they are handled.

Head of professional standards at Wiltshire Police, Supt Tim Corner, said: “We take all complaints made to us very seriously and want the public to have complete faith in us if they feel the need to make a complaint.

“We are not complacent when it comes to the progress and timeliness of investigating complaints and continually assess this process to make sure it is as effective for the person making the complaint as possible.

“Wiltshire Police are one of the most efficient forces in the country for timeliness in recording complaints within the guidelines set by the IPCC, something which we have worked hard to achieve. We’ve also seen the number of allegations recorded decrease from 2015/16 – 2016/17 where others have seen significant increases.

“More than half the complaints made to us in 2016/17 were locally resolved which involves us working with the complainant to discuss their issue and work towards a resolution together.

“As a force we continue to strive to deliver a high level of service to the public and deal with any complaints we receive openly, fairly and in line with relevant legislation.”