Frequently Asked Questions about complaints


Recording your complaint

  • Your complaint will be recorded by GMP’s Professional Standards Branch, who have overall responsibility for recording and handling complaints about the conduct of individual officers or members of police staff. The Professional Standards Branch is completely separate from the officers or members of staff complained about.
  • Once your complaint is accepted and recorded as being about the conduct of a police officer or member of police staff, it will be dealt with in one of two ways:

Local resolution

  • Local resolution is an informal approach to resolving complaints. It allows forces to learn lessons and improve the way they do things. This is generally the most appropriate method for dealing with complaints. A certain criteria must apply before a complaint can be considered suitable for Local Resolution.
  • A local manager will discuss your complaint with you and draw up an action plan covering the issues you have raised.  You will be informed in writing of the outcome of the local resolution process. This may lead to Management action or Unsatisfactory Performance Procedures against specific officers. 
  • If at the end of the local resolution process you are dissatisfied with the outcome, you have a right of appeal to the Chief Officer as the Appropriate Authority.
  • Find out more about appealing here

Local investigation

  • If your complaint is not suitable for local resolution, an investigation into your complaint will be carried out by a police investigator. Where more serious or complex complaints are concerned, the investigator will be assigned from the Professional Standards Branch to deal with your complaint.
  • You will be informed how your complaint will be investigated, what co-operation is required from you, how a decision will be reached and what action, if any, will be taken at the end of the investigation. The type of investigation 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 months.
  • You may have a right of appeal if you are unhappy with the outcome of the police investigation into your complaint. Your specific right of appeal will be explained to you in writing by the Appropriate Authority who handled your complaint.
  • Find out more about appealing here

How quickly will my complaint be resolved?

  • We cannot predict how long it will take to deal with your complaint fully, but we undertake to categorise, assess and record a complaint within 10 days of it being reported.
  • If the complaint appears to be unlikely to result in formal misconduct or criminal proceedings, a senior officer or member of staff from the relevant Area will be asked to speak to the complainant and the staff involved. This will hopefully enable the matter to be resolved locally. We hope this simple approach will mean the complaint can be brought to a conclusion that is satisfactory to the complainant at the earliest opportunity.
  • Some cases take more time to investigate than others and in some cases we have to refer a complaint to the Crown Prosecution Service (who are impartial in the matter and has responsibility for considering allegations against police personnel that amount to criminal conduct). We do, however, undertake to conclude our investigation and any subsequent proceedings over which we have control as soon as reasonably practicable.  You will be routinely updated on the progress of your complaint. This should be at least every 28 days starting from the date the complaint was recorded.

What if my complaint isn't resolved to my satisfaction?

  • If you have made a complaint against the police and you are not happy with the way it has been handled, you may have a right of Appeal.
  • The specific rights of appeal may be different from case to case.  Your specific right of appeal will be explained to you in writing by the Professional Standards Branch or Local Manager who handled your complaint.

The role of the Independent Office Police Complaints

  • Complaints about the conduct of people serving with the police can be sent to the IOPC, but the IOPC does not have the power to record complaints. If you complain to the IOPC, it must, by law, forward the complaint back to the force involved for consideration. Due to the exceptionally high numbers of complaints made to the IOPC, it can take a number of weeks before a complaint is forwarded to the relevant police force. In order to have your complaint dealt with as quickly as possible, we advise you to complain to GMP using one of the methods set out in these pages.
  • The IOPC also investigates the most serious complaints and allegations of misconduct against the police in England and Wales. These complaints are referred to the IOPC by police forces. The IOPC may decide to investigate an incident using its own investigators (referred to as an independent investigation). Alternatively, it can manage or supervise a police investigation into the matter. The IP(OC will only conduct independent investigations into incidents that cause the greatest level of public concern – for example, deaths in or following police custody.

Appeals to the Independent Office Police Complaints

  • In some circumstances if you are not happy with the way the police have handled your complaint you may have a right of appeal to the IOPC. Your specific right of appeal will be explained to you in writing by the Appropriate Authority.
  • For more information visit the IOPC’s website

Will complaining affect my other rights?

  • Making a complaint does not affect your rights to pursue civil litigation against the Force.
© Greater Manchester Police 2019