Of course, there are occasions when we do get it wrong, and there is very little to do other than offer an apology. It won't change any such recurrence in the future. We still won't get to your call any earlier because we still won't have the officers. There still won't be a sergeant present to advise the young officer who made the wrong decision about how to deal with your matter, because the sergeant would have been back at the police station completing paperwork. I can't make the CPS change their mind about not charging the person who assaulted you, because that person went no comment in interview on the advice of their solicitor - which the CPS was really hoping they wouldn't do. Those damned defence solicitors, they've figured out how to defeat the Crown before the case even gets to court.
This is where I have to disagree with Nightjack's infamous post on complaints. You know, the one that The Times cited as being one of the few dubious reasons why they felt the need to reveal his identity. You see, the fact of the matter is that as a Detective Constable, he would never have had to take a complaint. The same is true for Detectives of any rank, as all complaints received over the front counter at the police station, or by letter or telephone, will be dealt with by a Uniform Inspector. How far a complaint actually proceeds depends on the Inspector recording it. It needs to be an experienced officer, someone who is able to get to the root cause - and as I said often a malicious or spurious cause - of the complaint, and to politely inform the complainant that the matter won't be proceeded with. Words of advice will always be given to the officer concerned, regardless of the veracity of the evidence provided. Sometimes even this does not occur, and the words of advice are directed back at the complainant, as in the following example.
The Station Reception Officer comes to speak to me in my office. Steve Slag is at the front counter and he wants to make a complaint about an officer. I know Steve Slag. I've dealt with him many times during my time in Utopia. I've seen him progress from being a petty shoplifter selling stolen frozen meat in local pubs for £5 a pop to buy his cannabis, to breaking into people's homes whilst they sleep and stealing their LCD televisions, selling them in local pubs for £50 a pop in order to buy his heroin. I've stopped and searched him a few times myself. He has always complained on those occasions of police harassment, which he bases on the fact that it's been over a week since he was last arrested.
"Hello Steve. I understand you're here to make a complaint about an officer?"
"Too f*cking right I am. It's PC 4422."
"Oh yeah, I know 4422, he's a fine officer. Very proactive."
"Too f*cking proactive. The c*nt's always arresting me."
"Okay, mind your language. I see you're upset, but you don't want to upset me. So he's always arresting you? Is it the manner in which he treats you whilst arresting you that you're complaining about? What is it he does to upset you?"
"Nuffink. It's just whenever I've been arrested the last 8 times, he's always f*cking there."
"It sounds to me like he's doing his job. What's happened when you've been arrested by him? Have the cases been dropped or have you been charged?"
"I've been charged."
"On all 8 occasions?"
"Yeah, but that's not the point. If other officers stop me they get on the radio to him and he'll come down and arrest me, even if he's had nuffink to do with it."
"Sounds to me as though he doesn't like you."
"That's not right. That's harassment and I want to make a complaint against the c*nt."
"It's not harassment and I'm not taking a complaint. However, I would like to offer you some advice if you're willing to listen to it."
"Best you get out of my station before I call 4422 to come down and arrest you."
Hobbesellian Footnote: I don't want anyone who has read the above to leave with the impression that Inspector's will try their hardest to send a genuine complainant away. We know from what is presented to us in the first instance by the complainant what warrants further investigation, and what is malicious, as in the above semi-fictitional example. Nothing is so frustrating for an Inspector to know that one of his officers has behaved inappropriately - claims of bureaucracy, target-setting, government interference etc have no bearing on how an officer should conduct themself. For further clarification on Police Complaints and what actualy constitutes a complaint, please click on this link.