Make a Complaint
Dorset Police is a professional organisation, which is committed to providing a high standard of service to the community. Officers deal with thousands of incidents each year and regularly come into contact with all sections of society. Surveys reveal that the vast majority of people who come into contact with Dorset Police are satisfied with the service they receive, but occasionally officers do receive complaints about their actions or conduct. Police officers are required to work within the guidelines of a code of conduct set by the Home Office and breaches of this code are taken very seriously.
A significant role for the Professional Standards Department is to investigate complaints and misconduct allegations against Dorset Police staff thoroughly, efficiently, impartially and to the highest possible standard. The Independent Office for Police Conduct ensure the guardianship of the system for making complaints against the police and may supervise, manage or independently investigate those that raise more serious allegations.
Complaints which do not relate to the conduct of a member of our staff but, for example, concern a Force policy, the deployment of resources, an organisational or quality of service matter, may be addressed to this office for determination of who might most appropriately assist or directed to your local police station or Divisional Commander.
If you think a police officer has behaved incorrectly then you have a right to complain. It is important for us to know when members of the public are unhappy with the service provided.
Please read the frequently asked questions below to understand how to take the complaint further.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are a number of ways you can make your complaint.
- By telephone. Call 101 and a senior officer will be asked to make contact with you.
- By letter to:
Professional Standards Department,
Dorset Police Force Headquarters,
- By email to firstname.lastname@example.org
It should give details of when, where and what happened. Include details of the officers involved, by description if necessary, and give details of any witnesses who may be able to assist with the investigation. A detailed account will assist with determining the most appropriate person to deal with your complaint.
Once your complaint has been made someone will be allocated to resolve the matter. This will either be a local supervisor or a member of the Complaints and Misconduct team. They will discuss your complaint with you and explain the various ways of resolving the complaint. More details about how police complaints are investigated can be found at www.policeconduct.gov.uk.
You have a right of appeal against this decision.
The Professional Standards Department will consider recording a complaint from a member of the public in accordance with the Statutory Guidance issued by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
Consideration will be given to whether it is possible to locally resolve your complaint. This is an effective method of speedily dealing with your concerns without resort to the recording of statements and gathering of evidence necessary for a formal investigation. Local Resolution may involve an undertaking to pursue a particular course of action, an apology in appropriate circumstances or an explanation of why events unfolded as they did.
Certain complaints, of a more serious nature, attract a mandatory referral to the IOPC who are responsible for deciding the mode of investigation.
The Head of the Complaints and Misconduct Unit is responsible for the assessment and determination of all complaints in the first instance. They are supported by a team of trained investigators which includes warranted officers and police staff.
The Superintendent, as head of the Professional Standards Department, is responsible for all appeals to the force for complaints where the appeal authority is the Chief Constable (those where there is unlikely to be any misconduct proceedings even if upheld) They will also be responsible for the more serious cases which amount to gross misconduct.
Dorset Police will ensure that lessons learned from any complaint made are understood and appropriate action is taken, whether this is at an organisational or individual level.
At the end of an investigation where it is found that an officer or staff member has a case to answer for a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour, there are a range of options available to deal with the matter. This ranges from a gross misconduct hearing, which can result in dismissal, to management action administered by a local supervisor.
In appropriate cases the Crown Prosecution Service decides whether any criminal charges will be brought against the person subject to the complaint.
Yes. You may be required to attend as a witness or you may be invited to attend as an observer.
Yes, making a complaint does not affect your right to take the police to court and sue for damages. You are advised to seek independent legal advice if you wish to take this course of action.