How to make a complaint
If you wish to make a complaint about the conduct of an individual police officer or member of police staff, the information below and on the other pages in this section will guide you through the process.
Please note, if you are blind or visually impaired, or if English is not your first language, you can telephone Northamptonshire Police Force Control Room on 101 and someone will be able to assist you with this information.
If you require information on how to make a complaint in easy read format, or an alternative language please click here.
It is recommended that you read the information on this page before making a complaint.
What can I complain about?
If you think that a police officer or member of police staff has behaved incorrectly or unfairly, you have the right to make a complaint.
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 requirements 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. These types of complaints are dealt with under the Police Reform Act 2002.
Other types of complaint
Complaints about the overall policies or procedures of a police force are often referred to as 'direction and control issues'. These can include complaints about the organisation of a police force or general policing standards in your local area. These complaints cannot be dealt with under the Police Reform Act 2002.
How can I make a complaint about the conduct of a person serving with the police?
There are several ways to make a complaint to Northamptonshire Police.
If you are blind or visually impaired you can telephone the Force Control Room on 101 and someone will assist you.
Online via email - please complete and submit our Complaints Form. When completing the form, there are some mandatory fields. These are to assist us with capturing the minimum information we need to progress your complaint.
We have also requested some personal diversity information. We ask for this to help the force highlight and therefore improve areas of concern. The information you provide is held in the strictest confidence and will be used only to help us understand diversity issues affecting the type and number of complaints received. The more information you can provide us, the more we will understand issues affecting our performance in relation to diversity. We would seek to reassure you that this information will not be used in order to make decisions on your complaint.
In person - you can complain in person at your local station or any other station within the Northamptonshire Police area. A police officer or a member of police staff will speak to you about your complaint and will explain your options.
By post - please write to the following address: Professional Standards Department, Northamptonshire Police, Wootton Hall, Northampton, NN4 0JQ
Who else could I contact to discuss my complaint?
If you do not wish to contact Northamptonshire Police
directly, you can also consider the following options to assist you with making
your complaint against police:
- Visit a Citizens Advice Bureau, Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council, Probation Service or Youth Offending Team, who can advise on whether there are grounds for a complaint.
- Contact a solicitor or Member of Parliament.
- Get someone else to put forward the complaint on your behalf (e.g. a friend or neighbour, as long as they have a letter from the complainant authorising them to do so).
- Write directly to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) formerly the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). You can contact the IOPC in writing at the following address: Independent Office for Police Conduct, PO Box 473, Sale, M33 0BW.
- You can contact them by telephone on 0300 020 0096 (press 2 at prompt) or your can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Deaf or hard of hearing customers can contact the IOPC via Text Relay using the following number: 18001 0207 166 3000
Making your complaint
Your complaint will be recorded by the Northamptonshire Police Professional Standards Department (PSD). The Professional Standards Department has overall responsibility for recording and handling complaints about the conduct of individual officers or members of police staff. The team is completely separate from the officers or members of staff who are complained about.
How will my complaint be dealt with?
Once your complaint is accepted and recorded as being about the conduct of a police officer or member of police staff, it will be dealt with in one of two ways:
Local resolution is an informal approach to resolving complaints. It allows forces to learn lessons and improve the way they do things and to provide an explanation for actions and decision taken, in a timely manner. Many people prefer their complaint to be dealt with in this way.
A local manager will discuss your complaint with you and draw up an action plan covering the issues you have raised.
If at the end of the local resolution process you are dissatisfied with the process followed, you have a right of appeal to either the Independent Office for Police Conduct or PSD. You will advised who the correct appeal body is at the conclusion of the local resolution process. For more information, visit the IOPC website.
If your complaint is not suitable for local resolution, a local investigation will be carried out by a police investigator. The investigator will usually be assigned from the Professional Standards Department, but they could be from a local police division.
You will be informed how your complaint will be investigated, what co-operation is required from you, how a decision will be reached and what action will be taken at the end of the investigation. The type of investigation will depend on the nature and seriousness of your complaint and the likely outcome. An investigation might range from telephone enquiries conducted in a few hours to a more extensive process perhaps taking a number of months.
You have a right of appeal at the conclusion of the complaint investigation if you are not happy with the outcome, either to the IOPC or PSD. You will advised who the correct appeal body is at the conclusion of the complaint investigation process. For more information, visit the IOPC website.
Appealing against the way the police have handled your complaint
If you have made a complaint against police and you are not happy with the way it has been handled, you may be able to appeal. If you have been advised that you have an appeal to the force, please click here.
If you have made a complaint against the police and you are not happy with the way it has been handled, you may be able to appeal to the IOPC. If so, you will have been advised that the IOPC was the relevant appeal body when the complaint was recorded. The IOPC deals with three types of appeal:
- Appeals against a complaint not being recorded
- Appeals against the Local Resolution process
- Appeals against the police investigation into your complaint
For more information visit the IOPC website.
What is the role of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC)?
Complaints about the conduct of people serving with the police can be sent to the IOPC, but the IOPC does not have the power to record complaints. If you complain to the IOPC, it must, by law, forward the complaint back to the force involved for consideration. Due to the exceptionally high numbers of complaints made to the IOPC, it can take a number of weeks before a complaint is forwarded to the relevant police force . In order to have your complaint dealt with as quickly as possible, we advise you to complain to Northamptonshire Police using one of the methods set out above.
The IOPC also investigates the most serious complaints and allegations of misconduct against the police in England and Wales. These complaints are referred to the IOPC by police forces. The IOPC may decide to investigate an incident using its own investigators (referred to as an independent investigation). Alternatively, it can manage or supervise a police investigation into the matter. The IOPC will only conduct independent investigations into incidents that cause the greatest level of public concern - for example, deaths in or following police custody.
For more information about the IOPC complaints system, please read: A Guide to the Police Complaints System.