IOPC publishes figures on police complaints made in 2022/23

Published: 05 Oct 2023

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) today published its annual report on police complaints for England and Wales in 2022/23.

In February 2020, significant changes were made to the complaints system including widening the definition of a complaint to “any dissatisfaction with the police service”. As a result, more complaints have been logged than in previous years.

The system also allows for more complaints to be handled informally, where appropriate, such as by an apology or explanation. A person can request a review if they are unhappy with the way their complaint was handled.

As the new system continues to be embedded across police forces, the data should still be treated as experimental to acknowledge it remains in the testing phase and comparisons with previous years should be treated with caution. 

A police complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction by a member of the public about the service they have received from a police force. All expressions of dissatisfaction must be logged. Police forces and local policing bodies deal with the majority of complaints. The IOPC sets the standards for complaints handling through its statutory guidance.

The report shows:

Complaints logged and finalised:

81,142 complaints were logged – an 8% increase on the total number logged in the previous year.  The complaints amounted to 134,952 allegations made overall.

31,620 of the complaints were recorded formally - almost 12% less than last year.

78,725 complaints were finalised this year (30,521 formally and 48,204 informally) - a 9% increase on last year.  

Forces took an average of five working days to contact a complainant after the complaint was made. This is a four-day improvement on last year. The time taken by forces to finalise informal allegations also dropped from 21 to 16 days this year. Where handled formally, it took forces 159 days to complete allegations on complaint investigations, an increase of 25 on last year. 

Types of complaint:

Complaints are categorised according to the issues complained about. The largest proportion of allegations relate to “delivery of duties and service” (55%). These are about service delivery, such as a lack of updates and the speed of responses, rather than concerns about police misconduct.

The next highest proportions were for “police powers, policies and procedures” (20%) and individual behaviours (13%). While making up only 1% of the total, “discreditable conduct” allegations logged rose from 622 in 2021/22 to 743 this year, a 19% increase. 

Complainants and those complained about:

Of the 74,543 people who complained about the police, 51% of the complainants were men. The most common age group to complain were those aged 30-39 (21%). While only 2% of the total, complaints from people aged 17 or under increased by 28% this year. 

55% of all complainants were White. The ethnicity of 31% of complainants was unknown and those answering the ethnicity question has decreased by five percentage points compared to last year. 

51,720 people serving with the police were subject to a complaint. 62% of those complained about were men, 80% were White and 14% where the ethnicity was not known. 

Complaint outcomes (allegations and cases):

Of the 30,521 complaints handled formally in 2022/23, just over half (52%) had at least one allegation resulting in an explanation or apology an increase of 10 percentage points on last year. 40% resulted in no further action being taken, a decrease of 8 percentage points on last year.  

113 of the complaints handled formally had at least one allegation resulting in either a misconduct meeting or hearing, compared to 68 in 2021/22 and 18 in 2020/21. The 113 represents 24% of the 468 formally handled cases subject to special procedures where misconduct proceedings are available as an outcome, a rise from 15% the previous year.

The most common action resulting from complaints handled informally was an explanation being given to the complainant (58% of complaints). 21% of complaints handled informally resulted in at least one allegation having no further action. 

92% of complainants whose complaint was handled informally had it resolved to their satisfaction or did not wish to pursue it any further. 


Reviews are handled by the appropriate review body which is either the IOPC or the Local Policing Body. Local policing bodies (LPB) upheld 19% of the 4,093 complaints they reviewed that had not been investigated and 27% (156 out of 574) of those that were investigated.     

The IOPC dealt with 1,500 reviews and upheld 44% of those that had not been investigated and 32% of those that had.