You can make a complaint if you:
experienced inappropriate behaviour from a police ofﬁcer or member of police staff
witnessed an incident – for example, you were present when an incident took place or were close enough to see or hear the incident
have been adversely affected by the conduct of a police officer or member of police staff, even if it did not take place in relation to you. 'Adversely affected' has a specific meaning within the police complaints system. It is defined at page 127 of the IPCC's Statutory Guidance.
You could be acting on behalf of someone in any of the categories listed above if you have their written permission to make a complaint on their behalf.
You can complain if you are not satisfied with the service you have received from the police. People who work in the police service should behave appropriately at all times. Expectations about the behaviour of both police officers and members of police staff are set out in their respective Standards of Professional Behaviour. These expectations include a requirement to:
act with honesty and integrity, fairness and impartiality
treat members of the public and their colleagues with respect
not abuse their powers and authority
act in a manner that does not discredit or undermine public conﬁdence in the police service.
If you feel that someone working for the police has not met these standards, you can make a complaint.
You can also complain about the way a police force is run – this is called a ‘direction and control’ issue. For example, you can complain if you are not happy with operational management decisions, general policing standards, or policing policies.
There is no time limit on making a complaint, but it is best to do it as quickly as possible after the incident/s occurred. If more than 12 months have passed between the incident (or latest incident) and the date when the complaint is made, then the appropriate authority may not investigate it. They could decide to disapply the complaint because it is out of time.
If you are making a complaint more than 12 months since the incident you should explain the reason for the delay in your complaint. However, explaining your reasons does not guarantee that the complaint will be investigated.
A PDF version of the information on this page is available here.
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