If you report a crime, but are unhappy with the service you receive, you should let the organisation know.
Making a complaint about police behaviour
A member of the public who considers that a police officer or member of police staff has behaved incorrectly or unfairly or where they believe that they have received an unacceptable service from the police has the right to make a complaint.
If you make a complaint, the decisions in relation to how your complaint will be dealt with are made in accordance with the Police Reform Act 2002 and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) Statutory Guidance 2020.
Upon receipt of your complaint a decision will be made to either log or to record your complaint.
If a decision is made to record a complaint it should be recorded as soon as practicable and without delay.
All complaints are taken seriously with the aim to deal with all complaints expeditiously and to the satisfaction of the complainant.
Contact should be maintained with you throughout the complaint process by the person appointed to deal with the complaint.
Logged complaints – are dealt with more quickly by answering questions, providing information and explanations, providing an apology where necessary and learning from incidents to ensure that the incidents leading to the complaint being made do not happen again. Some enquiries will take place to address your complaint but no formal investigation of the complaint will take place. Although logged complaints are not formally recorded as complaints the aim is the same – to deal with complaints effectively, efficiently and in a timely manner to the satisfaction of the complainant.
Recorded complaints – a complaint should always be recorded where the allegations involve death or serious injury, constitute a criminal offence, breach Article 2 (Right to Life), Article 3 (Torture) of the European Court of Human Rights Act 1998 or where a complainant insists that a complaint is recorded regardless of the circumstances. There are no set timescales to deal with complaints but a complainant should be notified of a decision relating to the complaint within 5 working days of the determination after which time a right of review is provided should a complainant remain dissatisfied with the outcome of the complaint or with the way the complaint has been handled.
In such circumstances, an unhappy complainant will be able to ask either the OPCC (Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner) or the IOPC (Independent Office for Police Conduct) to carry out a review of the complaint to see whether it has been dealt with properly and to see whether the decisions that have been made about the complaint are correct.
All complaints will be dealt with by either the Force Professional Standards Department or may be directed to a local police area Inspector if it is appropriate to do so and when this is the best way to address your complaint quickly and to a satisfactory standard.
A complaint should be made within 12 months of the alleged incident taking place unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Who can make a complaint?
- Any person directly affected by the incident, which is being complained about.
- Any person 'adversely affected'* by the incident, which is being complained about. This means that whether the behaviour was towards you or not, it had some sort of negative affect on you. You might have been distressed or inconvenienced by it, you might have suffered some sort of loss or damage because of it or you might have been put in danger.
- Any person who is witness to inappropriate or wrong behaviour, and wishes to complain about it. (This usually means you were an eyewitness, and not that you saw it on TV or read about it.)
- Any person making a complaint on behalf, and with the written permission of, someone else who falls into one of the above categories.
How to make a complaint
Online by completing a complaints form here.
Or writing to:
Professional Standards Department or Civil Litigation Department,
PO BOX 59,
Or by visiting your local police station.
Making a complaint about the CPS
If you have been directly involved with a case and are unhappy with any aspect of the service offered by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), you can make a complaint. If you are not directly involved in the matter about which you wish to complain you can provide the CPS with negative feedback.
If you want to complain, the first thing to do is to talk to your local CPS or the member of staff involved. They will try to resolve the problem immediately.
You can also make a complaint directly to the CPS.
The CPS also offers the Victims' Right to Review Scheme, which makes it easier for victims to seek a review of a decision not to bring charges against a suspect or to terminate proceedings. Find out more about the Victims' Right to Review scheme.