MISCONDUCT allegations against officers in Scotland’s second-biggest police force have soared by 10% in the past year.
New figures reveal that the public made 1,669 complaints of assault, harassment and discriminatory behaviour against Lothian and Borders officers between April 2011 to March this year.
The complaints were lodged by 884 individuals, a 5% increase on the previous year.
Police chiefs claim the only reason for the increase is that it is easier to complain through the force’s website.
The figures showed that residents in West Lothian lodged the most complaints with 214.
Councillor Iain Whyte, convener of the police board, said: “I’m aware there have been a number of attempts to reduce complaints so it’s disappointing to show that the figures show a rise.”
In Edinburgh, complaints about “quality of service” rocketed by 70%. The most common complaint was “irregularity in procedure”.
Cllr Whyte added: “These complaints involve officers not explaining procedures. The force is trying to improve how they communicate with the public.”
He also said that the number of complaints were not misrepresentative due to the reduced number of officers due to cut backs.
He said: “The staff were back-room people who did not deal with the public, and the number of officers has stayed the same if not risen, so I don’t think cuts have been a factor.
Councillor Stefan Tymkewycz a member of the police board and former officer with the Metropolitan Police, said Lothian and Borders Police’s handling of complaints is “robust”.
He said: “One reason for the rise may be that people can now make complaints online.
“Care also needs to be taken with a rise in allegations as a single person can make several at the same time which can change the figures.
“The force has been trying to improve the way it deals with the public for a number of years but I would welcome any moves to enhance that further.”
A Lothian and Borders spokesman said they did not have the information on upheld complaints.
He said: “Lothian and Borders police strive to provide the highest level of service and accountability to our communities.”