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IOPC youth panel creates guidance on police complaints system

Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) youth panel today (3 July) launched new guidance on the police complaints procedure for young people.

The youth panel, made up of nearly 30 young people, worked with the IOPC to identify how the complaints system worked and present key elements in an easy to understand way.

The IOPC said the creation of the guide was due to “recent research highlighting only around half of young people are confident police will deal fairly with their complaint”.

The guidance provides information on questions young people frequently ask, such as what the IOPC do, how you can make a complaint to police, what to expect and the possible outcomes.

It will be published on the IOPC website and social media, as well as shared with young people and organisations who work with them.

IOPC Director General Michael Lockwood said: “Young people come into contact with the police in many different circumstances and environments and every interaction will have an impact on their confidence in policing.

“Young people told us they were unsure of their rights, and were not clear how to raise issues if they were unhappy about the way police had dealt with them. Young people understand that police have a job to do, but when they ask for explanations and do not get them or don’t know how to raise a concern, they can feel powerless.

“A recent IOPC survey showed only 52 per cent of young people are confident that complaints are dealt with fairly by police, leaving room for improvement. This guidance has been developed by our youth panel to build young people’s confidence and help them to understand what they can expect."

Youth panel member Ahmed Ibrahim said: "Young people’s experience of how police engage with them could affect their future impressions. We hope the Youth Panel’s work will help to provide a better balance to the relationship between young people and police."

In 2018, the youth panel engaged with 800 young people to hear their views on why confidence in complaining about the police was low and what the barriers to complaining were. They created a report, titled IOPC Youth Panel: Key Findings and recommendations 2019. It states that many young people do not trust positions of authority, especially the police, and feel they would not be taken seriously or believed due to their age and lack of status.

It also said young people marginalised and minority groups feel they are less likely to be believed.

Mr Ibrahim said the common themes of powerlessness and a lack of voice among young people were “profound”.

He went on to say: "I’m incredibly proud as an IOPC youth advisor to see the launch of the young people’s guide to complaints system, as it directly addresses the long and deep-rooted mistrust and lack of participation by young people in the very system that’s exists to protect them, the complaints system.

"I look forward to the impact this guide will make towards better trust and confidence amongst youngest members of society.” 

The report resulted in a number of recommendations to the IOPC, which are being actioned and include the guidance launched today.

A video communicating the guide has also been published.

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