South Yorkshire police conduct is in the firing line

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Allegations of assault, harassment and unlawful arrest were among the hundreds of complaints made against South Yorkshire Police in a year, new figures reveal.

Some 388 cases were investigated by the force’s professional standards department, and included 124 claims of officers, special constables or other police workers showing ‘incivility, impoliteness and intolerance’.

There were five allegations of sexual assault, 15 of corrupt practice, and 30 of mishandling property.

Data for the year to March, obtained by The Star under its Your Right To Know campaign, found five arrests were later made as a result of public complaints - and another 101 conduct cases were referred to the unit.

Detective Superintendent Terry Mann, head of the professional standards department, told The Star that upholding standards and the integrity of the force is a ‘priority’.

“We continue to make sure police officers and staff are acting appropriately and standards are being withheld,” he said.

“At every opportunity the department ensures thorough and professional investigations take place in support of victims making complaints - and ensures we deal with cases where we do go wrong.

“South Yorkshire Police wants to be transparent and open and is making great strides in achieving that.

“Where we do find evidence of gross misconduct, we do whatever we can to ensure the truth comes out.”

Sheffield complaints totalled 340 between April 2012 and March 2013, while there were 135 in Rotherham, 116 in Barnsley, 126 in Doncaster, and 100 others throughout the force.

The majority, at 142 incidents, were dealt with by local resolution where a solution such as a formal apology is found.

Ten complaints were upheld, which can result in misconduct hearings or meetings leading to sanctions such as warnings or dismissals.

There were 58 not upheld and 29 dispensed with - which can often happen after court proceedings find defendants guilty.

DCI Mark Foster, who leads the complaints section, said the ‘majority’ of cases were about improving staff standards and training.

He added: “There aren’t many cases where we find such wrongdoing that they do end up sending cases to a misconduct meeting or hearing.

“With complaints from the public the complainant has a right of appeal to the Independent Police Complaints Commission to get fairness, and the vast majority of cases show that, where we have made a mistake, it has been a mistake, not serious wrongdoing.”