For the police complaints system, a complaint is defined as an expression of dissatisfaction with a police force that has directly affected you, adversely affected you or you have witnessed.
Can I make a complaint on behalf of someone else?
If you wish to make a complaint on behalf of someone else, you will require written permission from the person affected. Solicitors must also gain written permission if they are acting on a person’s behalf.
What is the Policing and Crime Act 2017?
In part it has reformed the police complaints and disciplinary systems to ensure that the public have confidence in the Constabulary/OPCCs ability to hold the police to account, and to ensure that police officers uphold the highest standards of integrity.
How will my complaint be handled?
CRT will deal with the initial assessment (triage) of all complaints regarding Hertfordshire Constabulary. CRT aim to resolve dissatisfactions in a quick and efficient manner, offering a speedy acknowledgement and communication with the complainant to ascertain details regarding the nature of the complaint. Expectations will be discussed, in order that issues can be progressed with a clear understanding from both parties.
Can I choose how I would like my complaint to be handled?
Yes, legislation dictates that a complainant has the right to decide whether they would like their complaint handled within schedule 3 of legislation or outside schedule 3 of legislation. (Please note that some allegations will have to be handled within schedule 3 of legislation due to their nature).
What difference will it make if I choose inside or outside schedule 3 when making a complaint?
If your complaint is dealt with within Schedule 3 of legislation, your complaint will be passed to the Professional Standards Department in Hertfordshire Constabulary to be recorded. Your complaint may take longer to process as it is a more formalised process and initial contact can take up to 28 days. If your complaint is dealt with inside schedule 3 at the conclusion of your complaint you may have a right of review.
If your complaint is dealt with outside of schedule 3, the Complaint Resolution Team (CRT) will try and service recover your complaint. Currently CRT have an average turnaround of 5 working days**. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome after initial handling, you have the right to have it transferred to PSD to be dealt with inside the formal legislation.
What does recording a complaint mean/involve?
Recording a complaint means that it has formal status under the Police Reform Act 2002. It must then be dealt with according to formal rules and guidance.
What happens if I am still dissatisfied after initial handling by CRT?
Following the conclusion of your complaint, if you remain dissatisfied, you will have a right to have it referred to the Professional Standards Department which CRT will do on your behalf. The OPCC will also monitor the outcome of the complaint and uses data collated to gather trends, identify learning and improve the service provided to the public.
What happens if I am dissatisfied after PSD has dealt with my complaint?
If you are unhappy with the outcome of a complaint that was dealt with by PSD, then you can request a review, this must be requested outlining the reasons why within 28 days of receiving the final decision letter.
The review will be dealt with by either the OPCC or the IOPC. You will be advised of the relevant review body at the conclusion of the complaint.
Please check your complaint outcome letter which will have been sent to you to confirm who you should make a review request to.
Who are the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC)?
The team supporting the work of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire.
What are the PCC's responsibilities in the police complaints system?
The Police and Crime Commissioner has responsibility for maintaining an efficient and effective police force in their area. The Commissioner’s role is to hold the Chief Constable to account for the exercise of his functions. With respect to complaints, the Police and Crime Commissioner is required in particular to hold the Chief Constable to account for the exercise of his or her functions in relation to the handling of complaints. They also have responsibility for handling complaints against the Chief Constable. OPCC is the relevant review body for complaints that have been dealt with locally by PSD.
Who are the Complaint Resolution Team?
The PCC has set up a team called the Complaint Resolution Team (CRT) to deal with the logging of all complaints received regarding Hertfordshire Constabulary and triage accordingly). The team also handles all complaints that fall outside of Schedule 3 of legislation.
Who are the Professional Standards Department (PSD)?
PSD- will deal with all complaints inside schedule 3 of the legislation, these tend to be for more serious allegations which if proven could result in criminal or disciplinary proceedings or where complainants choose to have their complaint dealt with in this manner.
Who is the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC)?
IOPC- They are independent and oversee the police complaints system in England and Wales. They investigate the most serious matters, including deaths following police contact, and set the standards by which the police should handle complaints. IOPC use learning from their work to influence changes in policing. They do not deal with the initial handling of complaints, they will forward any complaint received to the relevant policing body to be assessed first. This will be the CRT in the OPCC for Hertfordshire.
Is there a time limit on making a complaint?
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 of your complaint, then the appropriate authority may not investigate it. If you are making a complaint more than 12 months after the incident you should explain the reason for the delay. However, explaining your reasons does not guarantee that the complaint will be investigated
What are the possible outcomes of my complaint?
You will be provided with information and an explanation – either by telephone or in writing
You will be provided with an update regarding outstanding matters.
Any questions you have will be addressed
The return of property where appropriate
An apology offered for poor service
Confirmation that steps have been taken to prevent the same error occurring again
Signposting to appropriate processes or external agencies is provided