A NEW independent team could be introduced to assess complaints against North Yorkshire Police.

This week the Home Office announced that changes would be made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission - renamed the Office for Police Conduct - which would "strengthen the role of Police and Crime Commissioners in the police complaints system, make the system easier to understand and more independent, and to streamline the appeals process".

Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, said: "In North Yorkshire we have very high satisfaction levels with police but sometimes things go wrong.

"In North Yorkshire, I would like to set up a team that takes all the complaints, in the broadest sense of the word, from the police service so people making a complaint about the police service don't have to complain to the police."

At the moment, PCCs do not have a formal role in the complaints process but Mrs Mulligan said her office had forged a relationship with Chief Constable Dave Jones and his staff to assist with complaints.

Mrs Mulligan said: "My caseworker who has about 70 ongoing cases at any time has a decent relationship with the chief constable's staff office, who farm the complaints out and we act on behalf of the complainant to make sure the police follow up on their complaints, but that's an informal arrangement we have reached.

"We haven't decided yet how it will be set up, but it will be a new team, separate from the police service, who will assess complaints and decide whether they should be recorded as a formal complaint and sent off to the professional standards department, or to the IPCC, or if serious complaints should be sent out to relevant line managers to deal with."

Mrs Mulligan said she believed the changes would improve the complaints, appeals and review process for the public.

She said: "It will be much easier way for the public to make a complaint about the police, and a central point of contact people can go to. At the moment if your complaint is locally resolved or dealt with informally you appeal to the Chief Constable. A lot of people feel uncomfortable about that as it's police appealing to the police."