Once you’ve made a complaint there are several possible outcomes.

Sometimes a phone call from one of our experienced officers is all that’s needed to clear up a misunderstanding. 

At other times, a complaint could lead to a change in the day-to-day working of the force. Every complaint is different, but we’ll follow the process below to try to find a solution you can be satisfied with.

What happens after I make a complaint?

When the reasons for your complaint are clear and no investigation is needed, we’ll try to get back to you quickly with information or an explanation.

If you make a complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), they'll forward it to us. We’ll then look into it in the same way as above.

What happens after my complaint is recorded?

After recording your complaint, the Professional Standards Department will assess its nature and seriousness.

The Professional Standards Department will allocate a person who isn’t connected to your complaint to look into it. They’ll get in touch with you directly to clarify any missing details and answer any questions you may have. Based on your conversation, they’ll work with you to agree an action plan.

Some complaints we receive must be forwarded to the IOPC. Examples include action (or lack of action) that led to a person’s death or serious injury, serious assault, serious sexual offence, or serious corruption.

What happens if my complaint is not recorded?

If the decision is made not to record your complaint, you will be sent in writing the details of why it is not being recorded. This will also include a right of appeal to The Independent Office for Police Conduct against that non-recording decision.

How will my complaint be resolved?

The person assigned to deal with your complaint should make contact with you to make sure they understand what your complaint is about. 

Your complaint will be dealt with by one of three processes.

  1. Local Resolution – we'll work with you to get to the bottom of what's happened and settle it with you. 
  2. Local Investigation – in these cases the person looking into the complaint will complete an Investigating Officers (IO) report including what investigation has been done, what findings have been reached and any recommendations. We'll update you on progress at least every 28 days.
  3. IOPC Independent Investigation – for more serious complaints, where disciplinary action or even criminal proceedings could be involved, an IOPC investigator will handle your complaint. They'll keep you informed as the investigation progresses, with an update at least every 28 days.

Why might my complaint not be investigated?

The most common reason for not looking into, or ‘progressing’, a complaint is if it relates to an incident from over 12 months ago, with no clear explanation for the delay.

Similarly, we wouldn’t start an investigation if we have already received, and looked into, a complaint about the same incident.

The complaint may also be viewed as vexatious or an abuse of the complaints system. In these cases we’ll give you a full explanation in writing with a right of appeal against that decision.