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.
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.
Independent Office for Police Conduct ensure the guardianship of the system for making complaints against the police and may supervise, manage or independently investigate those that raise more serious allegations.
Complaints about staff
If you think the conduct or behaviour of a police officer, police staff member or special constable was inappropriate or fell below expectation, you can make a complaint.
Complaints made more than 12 months after the alleged incident will still be reviewed but may not be recorded or investigated.
Complaints about staff are dealt with under the Police Reform Act 2002.
The behaviour of police officers, police staff and special constables are set out in the Standards of Professional Behaviour:
- 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.
Complaints about overall force policies
Known as ‘organisational’ or ‘direction and control’ complaints, these may include operational policies, corporate strategy, decisions about resources, or general standards.
Who can make a complaint?
You can make a complaint if you are:
- a member of the public who claims that the conduct took place in relation to you
- a member of the public who claims to have been ‘adversely’ affected by the conduct, even if it did not take place in relation to you
- a member of the public who claims to have witnessed the conduct
- a person acting on behalf of someone and with written permission who falls within any of the three categories above
What information to include in a complaint
When making your complaint, please 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 dealt with?
Complaints are dealt with by the Professional Standards Department of Avon and Somerset Police. The department is completely separate from the officers or members of staff who are complained about.
Once your complaint is accepted and recorded as being about the conduct of a police officer or member of police staff, and then it will be dealt with in one of three ways:
We are working towards resolving minor complaints as quickly and effectively as possible through ‘Early Intervention’.
Where appropriate, when we receive reports of dissatisfaction, 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 of carrying out a formal complaint investigation, in accordance with the requirements 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.
Local Resolution is a process of understanding your complaint and resolving it directly with you. It may involve an undertaking to pursue a particular course of action, an apology in appropriate circumstances or an explanation of why events unfolded as they did.
It is suitable only for complaints which, even if proven or admitted by the person(s) complained against, would not result in misconduct proceedings being taken.
It is important to us that we maintain public trust and confidence and handling complaints in this way allows lessons to be learned quickly and improvements to be made to the way we do things.
If at the end of the local resolution process you are not happy with the outcome of the local resolution, you have a right of appeal.
The purpose of a local investigation is to establish the details around the complaint and whether it amounts to an allegation of serious misconduct.
The type of investigation and who conducts it will depend on the nature and seriousness of your complaint and the likely outcome.
An investigation might range from telephone enquiries conducted in a few hours to a more extensive process perhaps taking a number of weeks.
The Professional Standards department will provide you with written confirmation acknowledging your complaint, which will include details of who is overseeing the matter and their contact details.
Your complaint will be dealt with as speedily as possible and you will be informed of the progress at least every 28 days.