Police abuse IPCC guidelines for Local Resolution process into complaint handling

If you make a complaint against the police, you will no doubt be aware of the Local Resolution process.

It is very important that you understand this process as it is all too often abused by police forces in an attempt to avoid IPCC intervention into the majority of complaints.

The abuse I am discussing in this article is the Local Resolution (LR) process classification.

When a complaint is made, a person in PSD (the police internal Professional Standards Department) aptly named the appropriate authority makes a recording decision (based on IPCC statutory guidelines and in their Focus guide) whether the complaint be dealt with by Local Resolution or, Local Investigation.

While a Local Resolution may appear to be a sign that police are taking your complaint serious, this is not the case and is the lowest level of complaint that can be recorded.

After the Local Resolution process into your complaint is complete, if you are dissatisfied with the outcome, you then have the right to appeal to the Chief Constable for the force in question. (unless the complaint relates to direction and control, in which case, you get no appeal)

This may sound promising, after all, you get to appeal to the Chief…  wrong, do not be fooled into thinking otherwise.

Firstly, any complaint that is dealt with by the Local Resolution process has no possibility for an outcome that includes criminal or disciplinary procedures.  This is a fundamental part of the Local Resolution process, only a Local Investigation can result in a criminal or disciplinary outcome (if proven).  A Local Resolutions is simply a ‘slap on the wrist’ no more.

Secondly, the Chief Constable, (as much as he or she would disagree), will have a biased opinion of his/her staff in their own constabulary, and any appeal would likely be not upheld (not decided in your favour) as it has already been reviewed by the same force.


What is the Local Resolution process.

The best way to understand the local resolution process is to read the IPCC Focus Guide from their website.  It explains the rationale and give s examples.  Simply put, if you make a complaints that alleges anything that ‘if proven‘ would result in criminal or disciplinary procedures, then it must be recorded as a Local Investigation, not a Local Resolution.

If you make a complaint, firstly, you need to understand what you are complaining about and have some understanding of what you expect.

You cannot expect jail time or expect an officer to be sacked for a very minor incident, I shall use a few examples.

Example 1.

An officer was a little impolite with you.  You asked an officer a question and (s)he was abrupt.  You felt they were being a bit rude.

Yes, the Local Resolution process will be the correct route as if the allegation proven, the officer will not get pulled before the magistrates or be disciplined.  This is a good example of what the Local Resolution process is for.

Example 2.

You receive an email from a police officer who accidentally sent you copy of your personal information from the PNC (Police National Computer). You see on the PNC that another police officer has fabricated evidence about you stating you are a criminal and have criminal convictions, which are untrue.

This should be a Local Investigation, and not a Local Resolution  The reason is, the allegation is of fabricating evidence and making false statements.  It does not matter how you word the complaint (although it is helpful), the appropriate authority should, from the allegation, see that the allegation (if proven) would amount to Misconduct in a Public Office, which could amount to a criminal offence and or disciplinary procedures.

From the examples above, it can be seen that the complaint is classified based on the allegation alone.

It must be said also that, even if there is evidence to challenge the complaint allegation, this evidence cannot be used at the compliant classification stage.  The classification must be made based on ‘face value’ of the allegation and evidence at this stage cannot be used to make the classification of LR or LI.

If the police classify a complaint as Local Resolution, they can, if they later believe it should be, be upgraded to a local investigation.

If on the other hand, they classify it as a Local Investigation, even if they determine some time later (for any reason), it could be dealt with by Local resolution, they cannot downgrade it.

This is one of the reasons why police avoid the Local Investigation as early as possible as their investigation can be appealed to the IPCC.  All investigation details will be open to scrutiny by an independent body.

The other reason for abuse is that the IPCC statistically uphold a high percentage of complaints referred to them that the police force themselves failed to uphold.

The irony of this is that PSD are the appropriate authority.  IPCC made the rules but do not get involved policing the abuse of the rules they set!

PSD make the decision how to record the complaint.  If police abuse the process (and they do on most occasions), you should immediately write or email them telling them why you believe it was wrongly recorded and that you do not agree with the Local Resolution process.   Quote the Focus Guide above and ask that they re-classify it correctly.  If they refuse, then you should write to the IPCC and ask them to request the PSD provide their rationale for their decision.

If you are serious that the Police have recorded it incorrectly, you can and should put in a further complaint, against the appropriate authority for ‘perverting the course of justice‘ & Misconduct in a Public office for abuse of process.  This is a criminal offence and must them be recorded as a Local Investigation.

Do not let them fob off your complaint as a(slap on the wrist) Local Resolution. Also read the article by Iain Gould of DPP Law (from 2012)



  1. Hi, I am an ex police officer, retired in 2009. After retirement I decided my wife and I should give up work and live on my pension. To supplement income we purchased a flat to rent. We provided the Greater Manchester Police (GMP)with details of a keyholder. In October 2016 another resident in the block heard what he described as a noise similar to a generator coming from the flat. The flat had both electric and gas services. Police attended several hours later and forced entry by kicking the front door in half. Having entered they found the noise was a plumbing fault, a vibration on the incoming water main. They then left leaving the premises insecure with no attempt to ‘board up’ or contact anyone. They claim to have attempted to contact the ‘letting agent’, however this was clearly untrue as there was no letting agent, but they refuse to explain this. The premises were found the next day by the incoming tenant who thought the flat had been broken into.
    I complained asking only for the cost of boarding up and later replacement door. I suspected the police would attempt to say it was necessary to force entry to save life or serious damage to property under s.17(1)(e) PACE. In complant I outlined s.17 could not be applied as the power could only be used if the threat was imminent. (Officers attended over 5 hours after the noise commenced).
    Further, entry was also unlawful because a keyholder was available therefore there was no ‘necessity’ to use force, no ‘necessity’ to enter, no ‘necessity’ to search. In short the complaint taken at face value as it should have been, was not suitable for local resolution as misconduct and even criminal proceedings were justified (criminal damage). However without our knowledge the matter was dealt with via local resolution and swept under the carpet. This was more offensive than the forced entry to our premises.
    I am suing the GMP for reimbursement, who continually try to halt proceedings by having them struck out.
    In 2 witness statements they have admitted there was no ‘necessity’ to use force due to the existence of a keyholder. (see above complaint to GMP). However at preliminary hearing they changed their mind and said there was a necessity. I think this is called estoppel by representation and the Court should not have allowed it, but did, which is anoher story.
    Although I met with great resistance I was able to gain information via FOI regard the handling of complaints related to forced entry to property by GMP prior to the incident affecting us. In short of the complaints handled 88% were dealt with via ‘local resolution and 100% were managed and kept within the GMP. I think this more than supports your assertions here.
    I had a great deal of law enforcement experience particularly in crime investigation and I know the excuses given by the GMP are a pretence. The real reason they forced entry was because they wrongly thought from the circumstances the flat was being used to cultivate Canbabis, in which case they should have sought a search warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, but they didn’t.
    I know the difficulties of the job, but I never have nor will I ever tolerate corruption and cover up.
    If you wish to know more, please do not hesitate to contact me. Kindest regards

    • It is heartening to read that an ex police officer upholds honesty & the law & opposes corruption. Was that difficult on the job? It is dismaying what I am witnessing myself. It has left me wondering whether corruption is becoming so endemic within the police that they can’t afford to investigate allegations too much lest they lose too many officers. There is a good article about honest cops being too afraid to report corruption.

      is there any information on bogus MH referrals made by police in order to silence victims/complainants?

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