Complaint Reviews

Complaint Reforms 1 February 2020
The Policing and Crime Act 2017 and supporting regulations made significant changes to the police complaints and disciplinary systems. They introduced a number of changes designed to achieve a more efficient and proportionate complaints system.  Local accountability was enhanced through changes to the role of PCCs. They have a statutory responsibility to hold their chief constable to account for the exercise of functions relating to complaints locally. They also have a central role in deciding how the complaints system operates at a local level as they have the option of taking on direct responsibility for certain functions. Finally, where appeals were previously handled by either the chief officer or the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC), the new right to apply for a review is to either the PCC or the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) depending on the nature of the review. This change aimed to increase independence and transparency.
 
New Review Process
If you have made a complaint to Hertfordshire Constabulary Professional Standards Department (PSD) on or after 1 February 2020 the former right of appeal was replaced with a new right of review. This means that you can request a review of your complaint by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) or Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) where the complaint has been recorded under Schedule 3 to the Police Reform Act 2002 if you’re not satisfied with how your complaint was handled.  There is no right to apply for a review of the outcome of a complaint that has been handled outside of Schedule 3 to the Police Reform Act 2002 or where the complaint has not been logged or recorded because the person making the complaint is not eligible to be a complainant.
 
The OPCC will deal with most cases apart from those complaints or conduct relating to matters listed below which the IOPC are responsible for reviewing:
·       Any incident or circumstance in or in consequence of which a person has died or suffered serious injury
·       A serious sexual assault or offence
·       Serious corruption
·       Criminal offence or behaviour which is liable to lead to disciplinary proceedings
 
If a request to review is submitted to either the OPCC or the IOPC and they are not the correct review body, then it will be forwarded to the correct review body and the complainant will be notified that this has happened.
 
When you receive the final outcome on your complaint from PSD they will advise you if you have a right of review and they will also advise you which organisation will handle your review, either the OPCC or the IOPC.
 
You have 28 days to apply for a review, therefore the relevant review body must receive your application within 28 days from the day after the date on the letter you have received explaining the outcome of your complaint.
 
The review body will look at whether the outcome of your complaint was reasonable and proportionate. Reasonable and proportionate means doing what is appropriate in the circumstances, taking into account the facts and the context in which the complaint has been raised, within the framework of legislation and guidance.  It is important to understand that the OPCC cannot reinvestigate your complaint. It can only assess whether the final outcome of your complaint was reasonable and proportionate and if it upholds the review it can make recommendations to the PSD, it cannot require or impose a different outcome.
 
If you have received a final outcome to your complaint from PSD and they have stated you have a right of review to the OPCC and you would like to request a review please email us providing the information detailed below to HertsOPCCReviews@herts.pnn.pcc.gov.uk.  Alternatively please write to Herts OPCC Review Body, 15 Vaughan Road, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 4GZ or telephone 01707 806100 for guidance.
 
Please note only the complainant or someone acting on their behalf (with their written consent) can make an application for a review; you cannot exercise your right to apply for a review before the completion of the handling of a complaint and you have receipt of your final outcome; and an application for a review should be sent to the email or address above and should state:
 
1. the details of the complaint;
2. the date on which the complaint was made;
3. the name of the force or local policing body whose decision is the subject of the application; and
4. the date on which the complainant was provided with the details about their right of review at the conclusion of the investigation or other handling of their complaint.
5. Please explain why you want to request a review, please outline if you are unhappy with the way your case was recorded or handled, the way it was investigated or the final outcome of the case.  Provide details explaining why.
6. Please explain what you would like to happen.  If you are unhappy with the outcome of your complaint or the way it was investigated, you may want to suggest an alternative final outcome.
 
While each review will be considered on a case-by-case basis, a consistent approach will be taken to considering reviews overall. The consideration of any review will be conducted fairly and in good faith.  Decisions will be reached as soon as practicable.  When we receive your review we will send you an acknowledgement letter and we will contact PSD to ask any questions regarding the complaint.  We will check the original complaint correspondence, the details of what was recorded on the police database, any terms of reference (if an investigation), and the communication throughout the complaints handling to make sure everything has been covered.  Any new complaints raised in the review correspondence cannot be considered as part of the review. They will be forwarded to the initial complaint handlers for logging.
 
When all of the information has been supplied, we will conduct a review of the outcome and make a decision.  You will be informed about this decision in writing. You will receive a clear explanation about how this decision has been reached.  If our decision has not been made within 28 days we will update you on our progress and continue to do so every 28 days during the review period.  You may contact us about this review at the email address provided above.
 
Where the OPCC is the relevant review body and it finds that the outcome is not reasonable and proportionate it may make certain recommendations.  Where recommendations have been made by the OPCC, PSD must consider the recommendation and respond in writing within 28 days (starting with the day after the day the recommendation was made)
 
Further information relating to Complaint Reforms 2020 and Reviews can be found on the IOPC website: http://www.policeconduct.gov.uk/