Frequently asked questions

Please see below for some frequently asked question and associated responses; these are categorised into three sections (complaints, appeals, general) for ease.

General

If a complaint is upheld it means that the service the police provided did not reach the standard a reasonable person could expect.

If a complaint is not upheld it means that the service the police provided was of a standard that a reasonable person could expect.

The standards of police service that are considered when dealing with complaints include:

  • the Standards of Professional Behaviour (or equivalent for police staff)

  • any agreed service standards

  • any national guidance that applies

If you believe the recording or investigation of a crime has been prevented due to the conduct of any police officer or members of police staff, then the IPCC can consider a complaint about those involved. However, this would not necessarily lead to the recording or investigation of the reported crime. In the majority of cases, the decision about whether a reported crime warrants an investigation is an operational decision made in accordance with guidelines set by the Home Office. If you believe that a police force is failing to adhere to these guidelines, you should raise this with the police force concerned directly.

If you are dissatisfied with a criminal investigation that the police are currently carrying out or have finished carrying out, then the IPCC can consider a complaint about the conduct of any police officer or member of police staff involved. However, this would not necessarily lead to a review of the criminal investigation itself.

The IPCC does not have any control over the police handling of a criminal matter; it cannot review the results or instruct the police to reinvestigate a criminal allegation. 

No. The Criminal Records Bureau does not fall under the jurisdiction of the IPCC. You should raise any disputes about the information on your Criminal Record Disclosure direct with the Criminal Records Bureau.

If you have applied for a Criminal Record Disclosure but are experiencing delays, you should contact the Criminal Records Bureau direct. If your complaint to the Criminal Records Bureau reveals that the delay is the responsibility of the local police force then you may complain to the police force concerned directly. 

You can complain to us if you are unhappy with the conduct of an officer or member of police staff or if you feel you were treated badly or unfairly by the police. However, this would not mean the fixed penalty was cancelled.

The same applies if you have been issued with a caution. The IPCC cannot remove a police caution or contest the caution on your behalf. If you would like to challenge a police caution or fixed penalty, you should contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or seek legal advice. 

No. The IPCC’s remit does not cover claims for compensation from the police. If you want to pursue any financial claims against the police, you should contact the police force concerned directly or you can write to the police force solicitor. 

Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for information or to seek legal advice. 

There is no limit on the length of an investigation or local resolution however, we expect that both should be proportionate to the nature of the complaint. Once a complaint is assigned to someone they should tell you how long the investigation or local resolution is likely to take. Unless alternative arrangements have been made you should be provided with an update on the progress of your complaint at least once every 28 days. 

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. 

Yes. Please contact us for further information. 

We endeavour to make our services accessible to everyone. If you have a specific requirement, please contact us to discuss how we can help you. 

No. We do not offer a face-to-face service. The best way to make your complaint is to the police force involved. Alternatively, you can complain via our online complaint form or by filling in the complaint form and returning it to the police force involved.

Appeals

Management action
This is where a manager deals with the way someone has behaved through non-disciplinary action and can include:

  • showing the police officer or member of staff how their behaviour fell short of expectations set out in the Standards of Professional Behaviour

  • identifying expectations for future conduct

  • creating an improvement plan

  • addressing any underlying causes of misconduct

 

Misconduct meeting
This takes place when there is a case to answer for a misconduct matter and where the maximum disciplinary outcome would be a final written warning. The available outcomes of a misconduct meeting are:

  • no action

  • management advice – specific advice given by a supervisory officer or senior officer

  • written warning added to the officer’s personal file. If the officer is found to have committed any misconduct in the following 12 months, it is likely to lead to (at least) a final written warning

  • final written warning added to the officer’s personal file. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, any further misconduct in the following 18 months (that justifies more than management advice) will result in dismissal.  


Misconduct hearing

This takes place when there is a case to answer for a gross misconduct matter and where the maximum disciplinary outcome would be dismissal without notice. The available outcomes of a misconduct hearing include the following options, in addition to the options listed above for a misconduct meeting:

  • dismissal with notice – this means that the notice period is decided by the people who conduct the meeting (it must be a minimum of 28 days)

  • dismissal without notice – this means that the police officer is dismissed immediately with no notice period


Unsatisfactory performance procedure (UPP)

Unsatisfactory performance or attendance is different to misconduct and gross misconduct. Misconduct and gross misconduct involve a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour whereas unsatisfactory performance involves the officer’s inability or failure to perform their role to a satisfactory level. Their performance may be unsatisfactory but not breach the Standards of Professional Behaviour.  If UPP is recommended or directed by the IPCC, the letter you receive telling you about the appeal decision will explain more about this.

Learning
The outcomes of an investigation could also include non-disciplinary action – for example, learning outcomes/recommendations about force practices or policies.

If the IPCC is the relevant appeal body, we will send you a letter that explains what happens next. The IPCC can provide directions or recommendations to the appropriate authority.

Directions
The IPCC tells the appropriate authority (the local policing body or police force that is the subject of the complaint or appeal) that it must take certain actions including:

  • disciplining the police officer(s) or member(s) of staff who is/are the subject of the complaint

  • reinvestigating some or all of your complaint

  • providing you with further information

 

Recommendations
The IPCC makes recommendations to the appropriate authority (the local policing body or police force that is the subject of the complaint or appeal). These are to be considered by the appropriate authority. Recommendations may involve the people complained about learning from what has happened so it doesn’t happen again. This could include a change in policy or training. The appropriate authority should tell the complainant what they are going to do in response to the recommendations. 

The IPCC is committed to providing the highest standard of customer service, but we are aware that sometimes things go wrong. If you are not satisfied with the service we have provided, please let us know and we will do our best to put things right.

If you are not happy with the service you have received from the appropriate authority, or have any expression of dissatisfaction, you can make your complaint to the appropriate authority directly.

When you make your appeal, this is your opportunity to provide us with all the necessary information for consideration - you cannot provide additional information for consideration after a decision is made.

 

You cannot appeal against the appropriate authority’s assessment of your appeal. When you make your appeal this is your opportunity to provide them with all the necessary information to be considered - you cannot provide additional information for consideration after the decision is made.

If you have any questions or need more information about the appeal decision please contact the appropriate authority so they can explain the reasons for the decision and answer any queries you have.

Appeal decisions are final. This means that any decisions made by the appropriate authority can only usually be overturned by the courts through the judicial review process. You should seek legal advice if you intend to pursue this course of action. 

 

You cannot appeal against our assessment of your appeal.

If you have any questions or need more information about the appeal decision, please contact us so that we can explain the reasons for the decision and clarify any queries you have.

IPCC appeal decisions are final. This means that any decisions made by the IPCC can only be overturned by the courts through the judicial review process. You should seek legal advice if you wish to pursue this. 

 

No. The IPCC is not able to act on behalf of individuals as its role is to consider complaints and appeals.

Your appeal will either be “upheld” or “not upheld”.  If the relevant appeal body believes the appropriate authority has not made the correct decisions they can uphold your complaint. The relevant appeal body can give any directions it considers appropriate for the future handling of the investigation, the report, and the outcome for the officer(s). They will tell you about the instructions they have given the appropriate authority and explain what happens next.

If your appeal is not upheld, they will write to you and explain why they did not uphold your appeal.

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. If the police do not record your complaint you can appeal to the IPCC.

The appropriate authority is either:

  • the chief officer of the police force (usually the chief constable)

  • the Police and Crime Commissioner responsible for the police force you complained about

  • the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (if your complaint is about the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service)

  • the Common Council for the City of London (if your complaint is about the Commissioner of the City of London police).

     

The relevant appeal body is either the chief officer of the police force (usually the chief constable) or the IPCC.

 

Yes, you can have a person to support and guide you through the appeals process.

The relevant appeal body will look at the available papers and supporting evidence relating to your complaint. They will then make an assessment in relation to your appeal.

For an appeal against local resolution or the outcome of a complaint after a decision to disapply, the relevant appeal body will consider why you disagree with the outcome and whether the outcome was a proper outcome. This means that, for example, you believe the outcome was not appropriate to the complaint, or the outcome did not reflect the evidence available.

For an appeal against the investigation into your complaint the relevant appeal body will consider the following questions:

  • Is the information provided sufficient for you to understand the findings and outcomes of the investigation?

  • Are the findings appropriate and based on evidence? Have any lines of enquiry been missed?

  • Are the appropriate authorities’ proposals for action proportionate and appropriate?

  • Should this matter have been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider? Is there evidence of a crime?

  • Whether there is a case to answer or any unsatisfactory performance.

For an appeal against the decision to disapply, the relevant appeal body will consider why a decision was made to disapply and whether this was the right decision.

For an appeal against the decision to discontinue the investigation into your complaint, the relevant appeal body will consider why a decision was made to discontinue the investigation into your complaint and whether this was the right decision.

The relevant appeal body’s role is to see whether the police force has correctly considered your complaint in line with the Police Reform Act 2002.

In most cases, the information you submit on your appeal form will be sufficient to make a decision.

As they review your appeal, they may speak to the appropriate authority or you to obtain further documents or information. 

The IPCC is responsible for appeals about complaints that:

  • relate to the non-recording of a complaint (however, you cannot appeal when the failure to record relates to a direction and control issue and the decision to not record the complaint was made by the local policing body – this could be the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Common Council for the City of London, or the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime)

  • involve the conduct of a senior officer - this means a member of the police force who is above the rank of chief superintendent

  • mean that the appropriate authority cannot decide from the complaint alone that the conduct complained of (if proved):

    • would not justify criminal or misconduct proceedings against a person serving with the police. Criminal and criminal proceedings are when the conduct of the police officer is considered to decide if criminal or disciplinary measures should be taken against them

    • would not involve the infringement of a person’s rights under Article 2 or Article 3 of the European Convention of  Human Rights

  • has previously been or must be referred to the IPCC

  • is a complaint arising from the same incident as any of the above

  • is a complaint containing an allegation that falls within one of the above.

Complaints

If you are dissatisfied with a criminal investigation that the police are currently carrying out or have finished carrying out, then the IPCC can consider a complaint about the conduct of any police officer or member of police staff involved. However, this would not necessarily lead to a review of the criminal investigation itself.

The IPCC does not have any control over the police handling of a criminal matter; it cannot review the results or instruct the police to reinvestigate a criminal allegation

No. The Criminal Records Bureau does not fall under the jurisdiction of the IPCC. You should raise any disputes about the information on your Criminal Record Disclosure direct with the Citizens Advice Bureau.

If you have applied for a Criminal Record Disclosure but are experiencing delays, you should contact the Criminal Records Bureau direct. If your complaint to the Criminal Records Bureau reveals that the delay is the responsibility of the local police force then you may complain to the police force concerned directly.

You can complain to us if you are unhappy with the conduct of an officer or member of police staff or if you feel you were treated badly or unfairly by the police. However, this would not mean the fixed penalty was cancelled.

The same applies if you have been issued with a caution. The IPCC cannot remove a police caution or contest the caution on your behalf. If you would like to challenge a police caution or fixed penalty, you should contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or seek legal advice.

The IPCC’s remit does not cover claims for compensation from the police. If you want to pursue any financial claims against the police, you should contact the police force concerned directly or you can write to the police force solicitor.

Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for information or to seek legal advice.

There is no limit on the length of an investigation or local resolution – however, we expect that both should be proportionate to the nature of the complaint. Once a complaint is assigned to someone they should tell you how long the investigation or local resolution is likely to take. Unless alternative arrangements have been made you should be provided with an update on the progress of your complaint at least once every 28 days.

 

 

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 dissaply 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.

Yes. Please contact us for further information.

 

 

We endeavour to make our services accessible to everyone. If you have a specific requirement, please contact us to discuss how we can help you.

 

 

No. We do not offer a face-to-face service. The best way to make your complaint is to the police force involved. Alternatively, you can complain via our online complaint form or by filling in a complaint form (found below) and returning it to the police force involved.