COMPLAINTS about Wiltshire Police have jumped by a fifth, new figures revealed last night.

The number of people making complaints against police in the county rose to 284 in 2008/09 – up from 234 the year before, according to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

However, allegations made against police in Swindon fell from 175 to 148 over the same period.

Fraser Howorth, acting head of Wiltshire Police professional standards department, said: “We have seen an increase of 50 complaints in Wiltshire, which is 21 per cent, compared to a national increase of eight per cent.

“It is not good news and every complaint is a complaint too many.

“But there is good news for Swindon, which is showing a decrease in the number of allegations.

“I believe people have more faith in complaint systems. If people are unhappy, they feel empowered to flag it up.”

Out of the 483 complaints made against Wiltshire Police, just over half (53 per cent) were locally resolved, which is the third highest nationally.

Serious or malicious complaints are not resolved by the force, including those when a person refuses to have it handled locally.

Twenty seven per cent of cases were formally investigated, while 20 per cent were withdrawn.

Out of those investigations, 10 per cent of complaints were upheld and may have resulted in officers being disciplined or sacked.

People who complained made 1.7 allegations each on average.

Most allegations – 126 – were classed as neglect or failure in duty where officers may not have turned up for an appointment.

Another 72 allegations involved police allegedly being impolite to members of the public.

Chief Insp Howorth said: “It is not that officers are swearing – it is more likely that they made a sarcastic remark or raised their voice in an unprofessional manner.”

He added the force was getting to the source of complaints by introducing more follow-up calls to keep victims in the loop about how investigations are proceeding.

He also said the force was running training courses and promoting customer awareness.

The IPCC said members of the public made 31,259 complaints against forces in England and Wales in 2008/09 – equating to 600 every week.