How will my complaint be dealt with?

Regardless of how you make your complaint the details will be recorded by the Professional Standards Department (PSD) who have overall responsibility for the recording and handling of complaints. They are completely separate from the officers or members of staff who are complained about.

Once a complaint has been received, it will be assessed and a decision made about how it will be recorded. You will be informed within 15 days if a complaint has been formally recorded, and if so, you will be provided a written record detailing the issues raised.

In certain circumstances the force can handle a complaint in whatever manner it thinks fit, which may include not recording or closing a case without taking any further action. In such cases we will write to you and give you the opportunity of making representations which will be considered before a final decision is made.

This will only apply to a small proportion of cases which meet certain criteria, for full details see the Complaints Charter.

If your complaint is about the standard of service received, it may be appropriate for a local manager to contact you immediately and arrange a satisfactory and timely resolution. It may be possible to deal with routine complaints and the conduct of an individual in this manner without the need to adopt formal complaint procedures. For instance you may be happy to register your dissatisfaction on the understanding that enquiries are undertaken and your concerns brought to the attention of the individual(s) concerned.

Complaints about policy and procedure

These relate to operational policing policies, deployment, and operational management decisions etc. (where there is no issue of misconduct) e.g. the use of speed cameras or the number of officers in an area.

We will ask that the relevant divisional commander to appoint a local manager to deal with your issues and aim to provide you with a response with 56 days of the complaint being received.

Complaints about conduct

We will determine whether your concerns are suitable to be dealt with by local handling. This is a process which allows you to have a say in how the complaint can be resolved and is an effective means of dealing with allegations against staff which will not result in any criminal or formal misconduct proceedings.

A local manager will discuss with you what action can be taken to resolve the complaint and wherever possible an action plan will be agreed with you based on this. If you are unwilling to agree an action plan, the local manager will identify and carry out proportionate enquiries into the matter, which may involve obtaining an account from the individual subject of the complaint, speaking to witnesses, establishing if CCTV is available and reviewing police records.

The local manager will ensure the actions or enquiries are completed accordingly and we aim to conclude your complaint within 56 days. At the conclusion of enquiries the appointed officer will submit a report detailing the action plan and/or their findings, and any proposed action against the individuals subject to the complaint. You will be provided with a copy of the report.

When allegations of a more serious nature are made, the matter will be formally investigated, usually by the Professional Standards Department, and may be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) who will consider the most appropriate method of investigation. The IPCC will determine whether the matter can be dealt with by the force, supervised or managed by the IPCC, or whether they will conduct an independent investigation.

If their decision is that the case can be investigated by the force, with or without their supervision, the investigator will conduct an unbiased and proportionate investigation and complete a report at the conclusion of enquiries.

If the investigation indicates a member of staff may have committed a criminal offence, the report will be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for a decision as to whether criminal charges can be brought against the individual.

You will be provided with a copy of the report detailing whether the allegations are upheld or not, whether the staff member has a case to answer in respect of misconduct or unsatisfactory performance, and details of any proposed action to be taken against the individual(s) subject of the complaint.


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