If you tried to make a complaint, but it was not recorded, you can appeal to the IPCC against this decision. This is called a non-recording appeal.
The relevant police force will be responsible for considering your complaint.
If your complaint involves a chief constable it will be dealt with by the relevant Police and Crime Commissioner.
If your complaint involves the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service it will be dealt with by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.
If your complaint involves the Commissioner of the City of London police, it will be dealt with by the Common Council for the City of London.
The IPCC investigates the most serious complaints using its own investigators. These types of investigations are explained in the IPCC investigations section. Police forces must also refer certain incidents to us regardless of whether a complaint has been made.
Whether your complaint is handled by the appropriate authority or by the IPCC, you have the right to be told how it will be dealt with, what action may be taken as a result and how decisions will be made. The appropriate authority or the IPCC will also agree with you how often you will be kept informed and whether this will happen over the phone or in writing.
Disapplication or discontinuance
Local resolution is a way of dealing with complaints at a local level – for example, through the involvement of an inspector at a police station or a police staff manager.
You have a right of appeal following the outcome of the local resolution.
Local resolution is appropriate for many complaints, but not for more serious matters. The person dealing with your complaint might take some of the following actions to locally resolve your complaint:
provide information and explanation
give an apology on behalf of the force
explain the circumstances of the case and any action taken
arrange a meeting with the person complained about
arrange for force policy or procedures to be changed
take some investigative steps to find out more information.
The person dealing with your complaint will let you know the outcome when they have finished looking at it. They may do this in person or on the phone, but they should also write to you.
If your complaint is not suitable for local resolution, a local investigation will be carried out by a police investigator. The investigator will either be from the police’s Professional Standards Department (PSD), which is the department within the force that deals with complaints, or from a local police division.
You will be informed about:
how your complaint will be investigated
what co-operation is required from you
how a decision will be reached
what action 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 have a right of appeal following a local investigation.
The police must refer certain serious complaints or incidents to the IPCC. When we receive a referral we assess all the information and decide how best to deal with the matter. We may decide to investigate using our own investigators. You can read more about how we deal with referrals from the police here.
In some circumstances the appropriate authority may record a complaint, but stop the complaint process before it begins. This is called a disapplication.
An example of this is when a complaint is anonymous and it is not possible for the appropriate authority to obtain further details about the complaint. In a case like this, the appropriate authority cannot carry out an investigation due to lack of information.
The appropriate authority must apply to the IPCC in situations where they intend to disapply a complaint, but it involves a very serious issue.
You can appeal against the decision to disapply in relation to your complaint (except when the IPCC has given permission to disapply or the complaint relates to a direction and control matter).
Our fact sheet provides more information about disapplication.
In some circumstances the appropriate authority may stop an investigation into a complaint while it is in progress. This is called a discontinuance.
An example of this is when the complainant refuses to co-operate and it is not possible for the appropriate authority to continue with the investigation.
If this applies to the investigation into your complaint, the appropriate authority will contact you. You can appeal against the decision to discontinue an investigation into your complaint (except when the IPCC has given permission to discontinue the investigation or the complaint relates to a direction and control matter).
The appropriate authority must apply to the IPCC in situations where they intend to discontinue an investigation, but it involves a very serious issue.
Our fact sheet provides more information about discontinuance.
A PDF version of the information on this page is available here.
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