November 19, 2009
If you feel you have been treated inappropriately by the police or if you have concern about police conduct, you can make a complaint.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (new window) (IPCC) is an independent organisation that oversees complaints.
Who can make a complaint?
victims of alleged misconduct such as rudeness, excessive force, unlawful arrest or abuse of rights by a person serving with the police
witnesses of alleged misconduct
friends and relatives of victims of alleged police misconduct
How do I make a complaint?
You can go to a police station and ask to see a senior police officer to advise you on how to register a complaint.
You can contact the IPCC and ask it to contact the police force on your behalf. Contact it using the information below:
Independent Police Complaints Commission
90 High Holborn
London WC1V 6BH
For advice and support about the police complaints process, you can also visit your local:
Your role in the complaints process
You will need to provide detailed information so the complaint can be investigated thoroughly. When you contact the IPCC or an alternative organisation to make your complaint, try to describe:
what happened and when
who was involved – ideally the identity of the victim and the police officer
what was said or done
the names of any witnesses you recognised
evidence of any damage or injury resulting from the misconduct
what outcome you are seeking
your contact details – name, address, telephone number, email address
Your testimony may be required during the investigation, and you’ll need to co-operate if you want the complaint to be thoroughly looked into.
What happens next?
The complaint will be reviewed by the police force, which will decide whether it should be recorded as an official complaint.
If it is recorded, the police will attempt to resolve it. If the complaint is relatively minor, such as, for example, an allegation that a police officer was rude to you, an official investigation may not be required – an apology or explanation may suffice.
More serious complaints, such as an allegation that somebody’s life was endangered, will be reported to the IPCC immediately where it will become subject to a formal investigation by a senior officer; that process could take some time.
The investigation can lead to several outcomes:
the Crown Prosecution Service may decide to bring criminal charges against the officer. You may be called as a witness if the case goes to court
the officer may face disciplinary hearings
the Crown Prosecution Service may decide not to bring criminal charges, and instead issue the officer with a verbal or written warning
You will be kept up-to-date in writing with progress and results of the investigation, and if you aren’t satisfied, you can appeal to the IPCC. You can also appeal to the IPCC if the police decide not to record the complaint officially.
There is no fixed time-frame for complaints processing; ask for an estimate when you register your complaint.