Making a complaint about the conduct of an individual police officer or member of police staff
It is important that you read the information on this page in full 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.
Since November 2012 these complaints are also 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 Durham Constabulary
You can complain in person at your local station or any other station within Durham Constabulary. You should ask to speak with a supervisory officer who will speak to you about your complaint and will explain your options.
You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please ensure that you provide your address and a telephone number so that we are able to contact you. Without these details it will not be possible to progress enquiries into the issues raised.
Write to the following address:
Professional Standards & Legal Services Department
Peterlee Police Office
St Aidans Way
Contact Durham Constabulary by telephone on 101 and ask to be put through to the supervisor on duty, in the area where the incident with which you are not happy took place.
Deaf or hard of hearing
The video below has been produced by Durham Constabulary and explains in BSL how you can make a complaint.
Other ways to make a complaint
You can also:
- Contact a solicitor or your MP and ask them to make a complaint for you
- Nominate a person to act on your behalf (they must have your written consent).
- Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau
- Contact the Independent Police Complaints Commission at:
90 High Holborn,
Telephone number - 08453 002 002
They will pass on the details of your complaint to the police force concerned.
Making your complaint
Your complaint will be recorded by the Professional Standards Department of Durham Constabulary.
Professional Standards have overall responsibility for recording and handling complaints about the conduct of individual officers or members of police staff. Professional Standards Department are 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, then it will be dealt with in one of two ways:
Local resolution is a way of understanding your complaint and resolving it by taking action which provides a proper outcome to the issue you complained about. It is suitable only for complaints which, even if proven or admitted by the person(s) complained against, would not result in misconduct proceedings being taken.
We aim to locally resolve complaints within 60 working days.
If your complaint is suitable to be subjected to local resolution, the local manager dealing with your complaint will explain to you why this is. The manager will seek to understand your complaint and the impact it has had on you and will then explain the action that that they can take to provide a proper outcome to your complaint. In most cases this will be documented in an action plan and while your consent is not needed to resolve your complaint in this manner you will have an opportunity to comment on what is to be done.
It is important to the Durham Constabulary that we maintain public trust and confidence and handling complaints in this way allows lessons to be learned quickly and improvements to be made to the way we do things.
If at the end of the local resolution process you are not happy with the outcome of the local resolution, you have a right of appeal to the Chief Constable or in limited circumstances to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). The Professional Standards Department will write to you once the local resolution has been completed and will inform you who any appeal should be sent to.
If your complaint is not suitable for local resolution because of the nature of the allegation, or if the local manager decides that in all the circumstances subjecting it to local resolution would not provide a proper outcome to your complaint then a local investigation will be carried out.
We aim to finalise local investigations within 120 working days.
The type of investigation and who conducts it 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 weeks. All investigations are either conducted by or have oversight from, a member of the Professional Standards Department and you will be notified in writing of the outcome and of any action that is proposed concerning the person(s) you complained about.
You can appeal to either the Chief Constable or the Independent Police Complaints Commission if you are unhappy with the outcome of the police investigation into your complaint. The Professional Standards Department will inform you in writing of who any appeal should be sent to.
Appealing against the way the police have handled your complaint
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 Chief Constable or to the IPCC.
You can submit your appeal using the forms below. Alternatively you can request that a form be sent to you, either by telephoning Professional Standards Complaint Department via 101 or by emailing email@example.com
Appealing against the police investigation.pdf
Appealing against the outcome of local resolution.pdf
Appealing against the decision to discontinue an investigation.pdf
Appealing against the decision to disapply.pdf
The constabulary aims to finalise the appeals that we are responsible for within 40 working days.
The IPCC deal with all appeals against a complaint not being recorded. You can also appeal against an investigation into your complaint, against a local resolution, or against a decision not to look into your complaint. You will be notified of your right of appeal and who it should be sent to by the Professional Standards Department when they write to you about your complaint
For more information visit the IPCC's website.
The role of the Independent Police Complaints Commission
Complaints about the conduct of people serving with the police can be sent to the IPCC, but the IPCC does not have the power to record complaints. If you complain to the IPCC, 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 IPCC, 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 Durham Constabulary using one of the methods set out above.
The IPCC also investigates the most serious complaints and allegations of misconduct against the police in England and Wales. These complaints are referred to the IPCC by police forces. The IPCC 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 IPCC will only conduct independent investigations into incidents that cause the greatest level of public concern – for example, deaths in or following police custody.