How to make a complaint against the Police
Making a Complaint
Gwent Police endeavours to provide a high level of service to members of the public at all times. However on some occasions it may be felt the service provided has fallen below the standard expected. If this is the case there are procedures in place to make a complaint.
Complaints can be about an individual member of staff and on some occasions can be about the organisations policies and procedures.
Any outcomes or recommendations made as part of the complaints investigation process are implemented by Gwent Police to assist in the improvement in the overall quality of service provided.
Police officers and police staff are required to behave in an appropriate manner at all times and to abide by the Standards of Professional Behaviour Code for both police officers and Police Staff.
If you feel a police officer or police staff member has acted improperly you can make a formal complaint. The formal complaints procedure is dictated by statute (Police Reform Act 2002 and Police Conduct Regulations 2008) and overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). The IPCC have the ability to undertake fully independent investigations as they determine appropriate. Full details of which can be found at the above website.
It is important to note that only in exceptional circumstances can a complaint be considered which relates to an incident which is over 12 months old.
Public complaints are monitored by the IPCC, the Police and Crime Commissioner as part of their statutory responsibilities.
Both offices regularly receive updates on cases and both also produce public reports.
Who can make a complaint?
You can make a complaint about a police officer of any rank or other representatives of the police including police staff, special constables and community support officers if you are a member of the public who:
Has been the victim of an improper conduct incident - Conduct could include a police officer or member of police staff being rude to you or using excessive force. It could also include unlawful arrest or an abuse of your rights.
Is believed to have witnessed the conduct - This is likely to be someone who was present when the alleged incident took place.
Someone who has been affected by the conduct - This is likely to be someone who was close enough to see and hear what happened. As a result they have experienced distress, inconvenience, loss or damage or being put in danger or at risk e.g. those present at an incident such as a young child present at the arrest of a parent.
Is acting on behalf of a person falling into any of the three categories above - Please note that if you would like someone to make a complaint on your behalf, you must give them your consent in writing unless they are from a body such as a Citizens Advice Bureau.
How do I make a complaint?
You can make a complaint about a police officer of any rank or other representatives of the police including police staff, special constables and community support officers by any of the following methods. Whatever the route, all complaints, by law, must be recorded by the police force itself. Complaints can be made direct to the Force or the IPCC by using any of the following methods:
If you want to make a complaint you can:
- Go into any police station and ask for your complaint to be recorded.
- Complete the online Complaint Form which will be sent automatically to Gwent Police Professional Standards Department, or contact Gwent Police Professional Standards Department by telephone or post.
- Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau, Racial Equality Council, Neighbourhood Warden, Youth Offending Team or Probation Service, all of whom can provide information.
- Contact a solicitor or your MP and ask them to make a complaint for you.
- Nominate a person to act on your behalf (they must have your written consent).
- Write to the Chief Constable or Commissioner of the service concerned (Met Police), or to the Police & Crime Commissioner.
The IPCC does not have the power to record complaints – this is done by the relevant police force or police authority. In the majority of cases, complaints are considered and recorded by the Professional Standards Department (PSD) of the force concerned.
This means that if you make your complaint via the IPCC, they must forward the complaint to the relevant police force or police authority so that a recording decision can be made.
Your complaint will usually be dealt with more quickly if you make it direct to the police force concerned.
There are a number of leaflets available which are designed to inform you about the work of the IPCC.
Independent Police Complaints Commission can support you through the complaints process.
As well as downloading the leaflets from these pages, you can also ask for a leaflet at any police station or contact the IPCC
Independent Police Complaints Commission and ask for one to be sent to you by post.
Some leaflets can be obtained in braille, audio and British sign language video format either via the IPCC website or by phoning 08453 002 002.
What should my complaint say?
As well as your name, address and contact details, the main things that your complaint should cover are:
- What happened.
- When it happened.
- Who was involved.
- What was said or done.
- Whether there were any witnesses other than yourself and the person serving with the police and can they be contacted.
- Details of any damage or injury which took place.
Complaints about Force Policy and Procedures (Direction and Control)
Not all complaints received relate to members of staff, some relate to the policies and procedures in place which support the day to day running of the force such as operational policies, organisational decisions and management and general policing standards. These types of complaints are known as Direction and Control and fall outside of the Police Reform Act 2002. Complaints of this type are dealt with through the same procedure as those against police officers and police staff.
Who looks after the complaint process?
The Police Reform Act 2002 governs how complaints against members of the police service should be dealt with. This act created the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), replacing the previous Police Complaints Authority.
The police record all complaints and each force has a Professional Standards Department (PSD) set up to receive and investigate complaints.
Complaints directed to Gwent Police should be directed to the Professional Standards Department who operate independently from the rest of the force. Gwent PSD can be contacted at the address below:
Professional Standards Branch
Serious complaints may be investigated or supervised by the IPCC.
How will my complaint be resolved?
The majority of complaints will be resolved at a local level through a process called local resolution. Allegations of Incivility are unlikely to be subject of a full investigation, but Gwent Police will investigate other complaints by means of a proportionate investigation or referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
What is local resolution?
Some complaints can be resolved quickly and satisfactorily at a local level by supervisors working in the community.
Local resolution should be quick and straightforward and give the opportunity to talk to the officer or police staff members’ supervisor or manager about your complaint and allow the supervisor or manager to explain what happened from the police prospective.
Your consent will be required to the use of a local resolution and once this has been given we will agree an action plan with you aimed at resolving your complaint as quickly as possible.
How do I find out what's happening with an on going complaint investigation?
Whether the Police or the IPCC is investigating your complaint you will be informed about:
- How your complaint will be investigated.
- What co-operation is required from you.
- How a decision will be reached.
- Action which may be taken at the conclusion of an investigation
The investigator will also agree with you how often and by which method you would like to be kept informed.
What will happen when the investigation is complete?
At the end of the investigation we will inform you of the conclusions in a report. This report could outline one of the following:
- Not enough evidence to uphold your complaint. This does not mean you have not been believed, but there is insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation(s) made.
- We may decide to improve or amend our procedures in response to a complaint.
- We may take formal disciplinary or other management action against a member of staff. .
- We may refer your case to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on criminal prosecution.
Do I have a right of appeal?
You may have a right of appeal to the Independent Police Complaints Commission if:
- We have not recorded your complaint.
- We have not made a decision whether to record your complaint.
- We have not informed you of our decision not to record your complaint.
- You believe that local resolution procedures have not been carried out properly.
- You disagree with the findings of the investigation.
- You have not received enough information about the findings of the investigation or what action the police plan to take.
- You disagree with the action the police plan to take as a result of the investigation.
You do not think the police have made the right decision about whether an officer you complained about has a case to answer in relation to their conduct.
You disagree with a decision the police have made not to refer the investigation of a complaint to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
More information can be obtained by selecting one of the links below:
Appeal against the non-recording of a complaint
Appeal against the local resolution process
Appeal against the outcome of a police investigation
Can I get an old complaint re-investigated?
If your complaint has already been dealt with and closed you will not be able to get it re-opened or re-investigated.