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FAQ about making a complaint

We strive to provide a professional service to our community. However, we do recognise on occasions that our community may wish to raise issues where they feel the service has not met their expectations.

We are committed to addressing all complaints, ensuring that you receive a reasonable and proportionate response from us in a reasonable timeframe. 

What can I complain about?

You can complain about the behaviour or action by the police that has directly affected you, adversely affected you or you have witnessed. If you wish to make a complaint on behalf of someone else who falls into one of the above categories, you will require written permission from the person affected. Solicitors must also gain written permission if they are acting on a person’s behalf.

Those working within the Police Service should behave appropriately at all times and are expected to conduct themselves in the manner set out in the Code of Ethics from the college of policing.

These expectations include requirements to:

  • act with honesty, integrity, fairness and impartiality
  • treat members of the public and colleagues with respect
  • not abuse their powers and authority
  • act in a manner that does not discredit or undermine public confidence in the police service

If you feel that someone working for the police has not met these standards, you can make a complaint. These types of complaints are dealt with under the Police Reform Act 2002.

How can I make a complaint?

You are able to contact us through various different methods:

Our Customer Support Team will discuss your complaint with you and try and resolve it there and then. If they are unable to they will provide you with a reference number and advise you of the next steps and agree a course of action.

Please remember to give us your details, including your name, address, email, contact number and preferred way of communicating so that we can get back you as quickly as possible.

To help us resolve your complaint as quickly as possible it would be helpful if you could include the following points in your correspondence.

  • what happened
  • when it happened
  • who was involved
  • what was said or done
  • were there any witnesses
  • was there any damage or injury caused
  • any reference numbers that you have been given

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC)

If you wish to make a complaint through the IOPC, we must inform you that their on-line form is not reviewed by the IOPC and is automatically forwarded directly to the force involved to review and make contact with you.

Organisations that may be able to assist and support you

If you need any assistance with making a complaint then the below organisations may be able to assist you. If they can’t please get in touch and we will try and assist in providing the appropriate support.

How will my complaint be dealt with?

Once your complaint has been logged with the Customer Support Team they will contact you to discuss how to handle your complaint.

Your complaint could be handled in the following ways depending on the nature and seriousness of the issue you raise:-

  • if the Customer Support Team are able to respond to you with answers to your issues upon contacting us then they will endeavour to do so
  • it may be resolved by a local manager who has the responsibility for local policing
  • it may be investigated by Professional Standards Department (PSD)

These options will be discussed with you when a member of the Customer Support Team contacts you.

The Role of Customer Support Team

The role of the Customer Support Team is to initially handle your complaint. They will be in contact with you at the earliest opportunity where they will gather information in regards to your complaint to fully understand it.

If they are able to resolve your complaint there and then they will, if they can’t they will decide on the best course of action to resolve your complaint.

They will inform you of the next steps on how your complaint will be dealt with and provide relevant reference numbers and information.

The Role of the Professional Standards Department (PSD)

The Professional Standards Department (PSD) investigate the more serious allegations of misconduct and gross misconduct involving police officers, staff and special constables. PSD provide the link between the police and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and ensure that any serious matters are referred to the IOPC. 

What is the role of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC)?

Complaints about police can be sent to the IOPC, but the IOPC does not have the power to record complaints. If you complain to the IOPC, it must by law, forward the complaint back to the force involved for consideration.

The IOPC independently investigates the most serious and sensitive incidents and allegations involving the police in England and Wales. These complaints are mostly referred to them by Police forces themselves. They will only undertake independent investigations in the most serious circumstances which include death or serious injury or a breach of article 2 or 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights. In these circumstances the IOPC would appoint their own investigator. Alternatively, they can direct a police investigation into the matter is conducted and oversee the investigation.

What is the role of the Police and Crime Commissioner?

The role of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is to be the voice of the people and hold the Police Force to account. PCCs aim to cut crime and deliver an effective and efficient police service within their force area. PCCs have been elected by the public to hold Chief Constables and the force to account.

Under the terms of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, PCCs must:

  • secure an efficient and effective police for their area
  • appoint the Chief Constable, hold them to account for running the force, and if necessary dismiss them;
  • set the police and crime objectives for their area through a police and crime plan;
  • set the force budget and determine the precept;
  • contribute to the national and international policing capabilities set out by the Home Secretary; and
  • bring together community safety and criminal justice partners, to make sure local priorities are joined up.

With respect to complaints, the Police and Crime Commissioner is responsible for ensuring that the Chief Constable has appropriate practices and processes to deal with complaints from the public.  However they are not the appropriate authority to investigate the complaint involving police officers and staff.

Although they are the appropriate authority for being responsible and dealing with complaints against the Chief Constable.

For further information about The Police and Crime Commissioner can be found on their website.

Requesting a Complaint Review

Following the conclusion of your complaint whether handled locally or by means of an investigation if you are not happy with the way your complaint has been handled, you are given the right to request a complaint review.

The review will be dealt with by either the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) or the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). You will be advised of the relevant review body at the conclusion of the complaint in writing.  The timeframe for requesting a review is 28 days from the date of the letter concluding your complaint.

Please check your complaint outcome letter which will have been sent to you to confirm who you should make a review request too.

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