How To Make A Complaint Against Police
We are contacted frequently by people who wish to take out private prosecutions against police officers who they believe have acted criminally. We can assist with this but a complaint against police should be made first, following the procedure set out in this post.
Q: Who can make a complaint?
A: You can make a complaint about the police if any of the following applies:-
- You have experienced inappropriate or criminal behaviour from a police officer, or a member of police staff;
- You have witnessed an incident which concerned you;
- You have been “adversely affected” by an incident.
If you have the written permission of another person, you can make a complaint on their behalf.
Q: What can I complain about?
A: You can complain if you are not satisfied about the service you have received from the police. Police officers and other staff have to act in an appropriate manner at all times and their behaviour is governed by Standards of Professional Behaviour.
Specifically, those working within the police service are expected to:-
– act with honesty, integrity, fairness and impartiality
– treat members of the public (and their 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 service has failed to meet these standards, then you are entitled to make a complaint.
In addition, you can complain about the way in which the police force is run. This would be referred to as a “direction and control” issue, and covers such things as operational management decisions, general policing standards, or policing policies.
Q: Is there a time limit for making a complaint?
A: There is no time limit in which you can make a complaint, but you should try to do this as soon as possible after the incident(s) occurred. If more than 12 months has elapsed since the incident(s), then the authority may not investigate it. They could consider it to be out of time. Therefore, if you are making a complaint more than 12 months after the incident(s), you should explain why there has been a delay. An explanation for the delay does not mean the complaint will still be investigated, however.
Q: How do I make a complaint?
A: The quickest method is for dealing with your complaint is by contacting the police force concerned. Many have online complaint forms on their websites. Alternatively, you could attend the police station in person. You could use the IPCC’s online complaint form, but this will be directed to the relevant police authority – the IPCC will not read the complaint at this stage.
You can, at this stage, contact a solicitor and have them make the complaint on your behalf. If you would like us to make a complaint against police on your behalf, contact us on 01623 600645.
Q: What happens to my complaint?
A: All valid complaints against the police have to be recorded, by law. This means your complaint has a formal status under the Police Reform Act 2002, and that it has to be dealt with according to formal rules and guidance.
Q: What happens after my complaint has been recorded?
A: The next step is for the appropriate authority to decide best how to resolve your complaint. Usually this means resolution or investigation at a local level.
(If you tried to make a complaint but it was not recorded, you have the right to appeal to the IPCC against this decision – this is called a non-recording appeal.)
Q: Who will deal with my complaint?
A: The relevant police force will be responsible for considering your complaint. You should be told how your complaint will be dealt with, what action may be taken as a result of your complaint and how decisions will be made. You should also be involved in coming to an agreement about how often you will be kept informed, and how this will take place (over the phone or in writing).
As your complaint may be dealt with by way of local resolution or local investigation, and you may or may not be happy with the outcome, we would advise you to contact us for further advice about making a complaint against police. Call us now on 01623 600645.