52 per cent of allegations made against Surrey Police are dealt with by the less formal local resolution process, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said today.

The figure is higher than the national average, with 42 per cent of allegations finalised in England and Wales in 2017/18 being locally resolved by police, according to statistics released today.

With 406 complaints in 2017 and 2018, Surrey Police saw a 16 percent decline in the number of complaints levied against them since last year.

The IOPC said that despite a fall in the number of complaints against forces, there are “wide discrepancies in the way police forces handle them”.

Some forces choose to formally investigate most allegations made against them, while others use the less formal local resolution process.

The IOPC said the current complaints system was “overly complex” and that it welcomes changes coming into effect next year.

Sarah Green, IOPC regional director, said: “The handling of complaints varies greatly between forces and we hope that expected changes to the system next year will bring greater consistency.

“We will also be providing updated guidance to assist forces and the public, and working with forces to ensure best practice is shared.”

On average, it took Surrey Police 171 working days to locally investigate an allegation, compared to 173 nationally.

Chief Inspector Nolan Heather from Surrey Police’s Professional Standards Department said: “A local resolution is a particularly effective method as it enables us to explain or clear up a matter directly with a complainant.

"This is important for all parties, the complainant as well as the member of staff as it also means we can be proportionate, pragmatic and timely without the need for lengthy formal proceedings.

“A complaint is suitable for a local resolution based on a number of factors, including if it is felt that the nature of the complaint is not criminal or a serious disciplinary matter.”