Police Complaints

Not happy with the conduct of the police?

Often I am contacted from people who are not interested in claiming money from the police but rather they wish to ensure that others do not suffer the same distress that they have from the actions of the police. A police complaint can achieve an apology, an explanation or disciplinary action being taken against the police officers concerned.   It can result in the police officer admitting their wrong doing and advice and further training being recommended so that the same situation does not occur again. In some circumstances, a complaint will result in the police taking pro active action i.e. by deleting clients data from the police databases or investigating a crime.  A police complaint can be a first step in the procedure for claiming compensation from the police.

Most complaints are dealt with locally by the police force involved. You can make a complaint by approaching the local police station or by using the online form. Once you have done so, the police have a duty to record the complaint under the Police Reform Act 2002 and a senior officer will then be appointed to investigate the matter. If the police refuse to record the complaint, you may have a right to appeal to the IPCC.  The Investigating Officer will then contact you to discuss the complaints procedure you and they should also discuss with you what you are looking to achieve by making the complaint. You may wish to receive an apology, an explanation, for certain action to be taken or for disciplinary action to be taken.

There are two ways of dealing with a police complaint:

1.Local Resolution

This is a way of dealing with complaints that are not considered to be serious. It will usually involve the Investigating Officer meeting with you to discuss the complaints procedure and to obtain your consent to investigating the matter through Local Resolution. The Investigating Officer will usually agree with you a plan to investigate the matter. Following his investigation, he will usually arrange to meet with you again to let you know the outcome of his enquiries. He may also locally resolve your complaint by providing you with an explanation, an apology on behalf of the force (he will not be in a position to apologise for an individual officer as this must come from the officer himself), and/or arrange for force policy/procedures to be changed.

The advantage of Local Resolution is that it is often a fairly quick way of resolving the complaints process. If you wish to apply for legal aid to pursue a civil claim and are not overly concerned with the outcome of the complaint aspect then this may be a consideration. However, you should know that Local Resolution will not result in any formal disciplinary action being taken.

2.Local Investigation

As with Local Resolution, I can help you with drafting a letter of complaint. The Investigating Officer should then discuss with you how the complaint will be investigated. Normally they will ask you to provide a detailed statement outlining what has happened and summarising your complaints. They will carry out an investigation which could take up to one year to carry out – they should keep you informed of progress. Once they have completed the investigation, they will normally send you the Investigating Officers report and if appropriate, any recommendations for disciplinary action to be taken.

Normally, a police complaint has to be made within 1 year from the date of the incident giving rise to the complaint.


Don’t hesitate to contact us now to discuss your case in more detail.