Data shows 2960 allegations made against officers, with 1417 probed so far this year.

Nearly 300 complaints have been upheld against New Zealand Police officers for failures in criminal investigations, unlawful use of force, dangerous driving and privacy breaches, says a new report.

Of the 1417 allegations against police staff investigated the first nine months of this year, 286 - or 20 per cent - were upheld, according to the police's Professional Conduct Statistics.

The statistics, released quarterly, show there have been 2960 allegations made against police, but only 1417 of those investigated so far.

The allegations stemmed from 2014 incidents, for which the complaints are grouped into 11 categories of allegations.

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The reports shows that the most complaints made and upheld related to the category of "service failure", defined as police's delivery of service in criminal investigations, giving victims adequate support and officers' roles in court proceeding.

There was 1038 reports of allegations in this group, and with 879 of those investigations completed, 158 were upheld.

When broken down further, figures show there was 64 complaints upheld for inadequate service, 33 for failures in an investigation and eight for failures in a prosecutions. There was also 17 failures to notify or inform a victim or offender, and 13 failures to attend an official proceeding.

The second most alleged misconduct was for unprofessional behaviour, defined as "inappropriate and unprofessional language or attitude, and any alleged form of harassment, bullying or discrimination, in any environment".

For that, there were 81 complaints upheld from the 438 that were investigated out of the total 561 made. When broken down further, figures showed that 73 were upheld for using unprofessional attitudes and language and eight were upheld for harassment, bullying or discrimination.

Breach of official conduct came in third, with 76 complaints upheld of the 280 investigated and 412 made. That included 13 upheld for breaches of privacy or confidentiality, nine for failure to return property, six each for conflicts of interest and "other" and five for dishonesty.

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Use of force on duty and arrest/custodial rounded out the top five. There were 277 complaints made relating to use of force on duty, with 216 investigated and 12 upheld. That included 10 complaints upheld for use of manual force, one complaint upheld for use of force with a dog bite, and one not further defined.

Arrest/custodial, which relates to lapses of correct procedures when arresting and detaining, had 29 complaints upheld from 233 made and 162 investigated. That included eight "other" complaints upheld, four relating to attempted suicide, three relating to property, two breaches of rights and one unlawful arrest.

Other categories were: Eight searches were found to be unlawful from a pool of 59 complaints with 52 investigated, and 16 complaints were upheld relating to negligent or dangerous driving from a pool 33 complaints with 21 investigated.

There were also 27 complaints upheld for workplace behaviour, with 13 for breaches of policy, seven for attendance or performance, four for negligence or carelessness and three for failing to follow lawful instruction.

New Zealand Police Professional Conduct National Manager Superintendent Anna Jackson said "only a small number" of received complaints were upheld.

"Police attend over a million events as an organisation per year. Despite the best of intentions, not everyone gets it right, all the time - meaning there is always the potential for complaints to be made.

"We only receive a small number of complaints in relation to our service of which only a small number are upheld."

The results were released proactively to "underline police's commitment to transparency and will help maintain public trust and confidence", she said.

The allegation categories are use of force on duty, arrest/custodial, searched, significant event, traffic offences, service failure, unprofessional behaviour, breach of official conduct, workplace behaviour, use of police resources and off duty behaviour.

Full breakdowns of the statistics and definition of the categories can be viewed on the police website.