Hackney police receive third highest number of complaints in the Met

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Hackney Police Station. Photo by Rebecca Lewis.

Police in Hackney have received over a thousand complaints in just two years — the third highest total in London.

A staggering 1,340 allegations were made against officers between November 2009 and November 2011. This compared to 743 allegations recorded in Islington during the same period.

Complaints of “oppressive behaviour”, which can include sexual assault and unlawful arrests, made up the highest number of allegations.

The information was revealed following a freedom of information request submitted to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Westminster police were the most complained about with 1,924 allegations, followed by Lambeth with 1,609 .

Both boroughs have significantly larger forces than Hackney, which has 707 officers.  Westminster, the largest force in London, employs more than twice that number.

Statistics show complaints were down 23 per cent to 582 in the period between November 2010 and November 2011 however.

Hackney police were quick to defend the figures. Chief inspector Billy Bowen-Long said: “Complaints are further broken down into specific allegations against named officers. For example, a single complaint could name three officers and two matters being complained about.

“The MPS recognises that there are things we can do better, and we are determined to learn and improve. Public complaints are an essential part of this process.”

Out of 1340 cases, 27 required further investigation with only one resulting in formal action being taken against an officer.  In neighbouring Islington, only 11 cases needed investigation.

MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, Meg Hillier, said she was concerned that some of the complaints might be related to incidents of stop and searches.

She said: “A good police force need to know where they are going wrong and it should be reported when officers are overstepping the mark.

“Five officers recently lost their jobs because of the bad attitude they had when conducting a stop and search and the police need to be more open about this.”

Jenny Jones, a member of the Greater London Assembly’s police and crime committee, said: “I am concerned about the sheer number of complaints being made against officers.

“I hope the borough commander is keeping a close eye on the kind of issues and problems these complaints are highlighting.”

Hackney has three police stations including one in Shoreditch and Stoke Newington.