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The complaints process

We are committed to providing a high standard of service. However, there may be occasions when you feel dissatisfied with some aspects of the service and want to make a complaint. Receiving complaints is a valuable way for us to learn and improve.

New Home Office legislation, which came into effect on 1 February 2020, ensures that complaints are dealt with quickly, effectively and proportionately.

Who handles complaints?

  • Our Professional Standards Department – The role of the Professional Standards Department is to investigate complaints and misconduct allegations against Avon and Somerset Police staff thoroughly, efficiently, impartially and to the highest possible standard.
  • The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) (the police oversight body) oversees of the system for making complaints against the police and may direct or independently investigate complaints that raise more serious allegations.

Standards of Professional Behaviour

The behaviour of police officers, police staff and special constables is set out in the Standards of Professional Behaviour. They must:

  • act with honesty and 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

The Code of Ethics produced by the College of Policing sets out and defines the exemplary standards of behaviour for everyone who works in policing.

Who can make a complaint?

Complaints about the conduct of individuals

A complainant must be:

  • a member of the public who was adversely affected by the matter complained about, or
  • a person acting on behalf of someone who was adversely affected by the matter complained about
Complaints not about the conduct of individuals

A complainant must be:

  • a member of the public who was adversely affected by the matter complained about, or
  • someone acting on behalf of someone who was adversely affected by the matter complained about

What information should I include in my complaint?

When making your complaint, include as much detail as possible about what happened:

  • What was said or done and by who? Were there witnesses or evidence such as documents or photographs?
  • The names of any staff concerned.
  • What you would like us to do to.
  • Ensure that you provide your address, date of birth and a telephone number so we are able to contact you. Without these details it will not be possible to progress enquiries into the issues raised.

How will my complaint be resolved?

All complaints should be directed to the Professional Standards Department of Avon and Somerset Police.

The 2020 Complaint and Misconduct Regulations introduce handling procedures which put a greater emphasis on handling complaints in a reasonable and proportionate manner.

Complaints that meet the logging criteria will then be recorded and assessed in accordance with the Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002 and IOPC Statutory Guidance 2020.

An initial assessment will be made to determine handling and may result in one of the following:

  • Early intervention (also known as Non-Schedule 3) – where appropriate we will look to make early contact with you to discuss your concerns and resolve the issues to your satisfaction. This will avoid the lengthy process in accordance with the requirements Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002. If at the end of the Early Intervention process you are not happy with the outcome we will deal with your concerns as a formal complaint (known as Schedule 3).
  • Schedule 3 Recorded – IOPC Statutory Guidance stipulates where complaints must be recorded and those that must be investigated. Complaints which do not require an investigation will be handled in a reasonable and proportionate manner. For further information please refer to the IOPC Statutory Guidance 2020.
  • Referral to Independent Office for Police Conduct – some complaints may be referred to the IOPC and they may decide to independently investigate or oversee a police investigation. The IOPC also monitor our complaints system.
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