Making a Complaint
- Complaints can be about an individual member of staff and on some occasions can be about the organisation’s 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
- 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 Office for Police Conduct (IOPC)
- Almost all complaints are resolved or handled by the Professional Standards Department of Gwent Police
- 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
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. Similarly, you can make a complaint about policies and procedures, organisational decisions and management and general policing standards. These are known as ‘Direction and Control’ complaints. All complaints are dealt with through the same procedure.
A person can make a complaint if they:
- Have 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
- Are believed to have witnessed the conduct - this is likely to be someone who was present when the alleged incident took place
- Are 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
- Are 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
You can make a complaint 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 IOPC by using any of the following methods:
- Contact Gwent Police Professional Standards Department (PSD) by telephone on 01495 768437, email or post
Gwent PSD, Police Headquarters, Turnpike Road, Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran. NP44 2XJ
- Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau, Racial Equality Council, Neighbourhood Warden, Youth Offending Team or Probation Service, all of whom can provide information
- Go into any Police Station and ask for your complaint to be recorded
- 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
- By Contacting the Independent Office for Police Conduct. Please note that the IOPC will refer your complaint to the Force which it relates to. Your complaint will usually be dealt with more quickly if you make it direct to the Police Force concerned
The Police record all complaints and each Force has a Professional Standards Department (PSD) set up to receive and investigate complaints.
The Professional Standards Department operates independently from the rest of the Force.
Serious complaints may be investigated or supervised by the IPOC.
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 to a full investigation, but Gwent Police will investigate other complaints by means of a proportionate investigation or referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IPOC).
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, allowing the supervisor or manager to explain what happened from the Police prospective.
Your consent is not required to the use of a local resolution but we will still try to agree an action plan with you aimed at resolving your complaint as quickly as possible.
Whether the Police or the IPOC 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.
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 Office for Police Conduct 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)
If your complaint has already been dealt with and closed you will not be able to get it re-opened or re-investigated.
The IOPC oversees the Police complaints system in England and Wales.
The IOPC can be contacted by email, phone or in writing to the following address:
IOPC Details PO Box 473, Sale, M33 0BW.
The IOPC 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 IOPC, they must forward the complaint to the relevant Police force or Police authority so that a recording decision can be made.
There are a number of leaflets available which are designed to inform you about the work of the IOPC.
Independent Office for Police Conduct can support you through the complaints process.