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Challenging the Police

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 12 Oct 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Police Public Complaint Rights Legal

Challenging the police if you feel they have not properly carried out their duties is a legal right for people living in Britain.

There are a number of different ways that complaints can be made if you feel the police have been acting irresponsibly within their duties.

Police Misconduct

There are a number of reasons why the public may want to make a complaint regarding police behaviour.

Reasons can include:

  • Abuse of rights
  • Harassment and use of excessive force
  • A member of the public has been arrested unlawfully
  • A member of the public has been a witness to police misconduct
  • The police are treating certain groups in the community unfairly
  • Allegations of corruption, hate crimes, assault and injury
  • Death or serious injury while in custody

Where to Make a Complaint

Complaints can be submitted verbally or in writing at any local police station. If you are making a complaint in writing always make sure you obtain a copy of the complaint for yourself. You can also make a complaint about the police to an independent agency such as the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). Information that is given must be accurate and honest and contain as many details as possible. Remember, the police can take legal action against anyone who makes a false complaint against the police force.

The IPCC

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is an organisation designed specifically to deal with complaints made against the police. If a complaint is made directly to the IPCC they will then forward it to the appropriate police force. The IPCC is a regulatory body that sets the standard regarding how police complaints procedures are handled. This organisation will handle complaints dealing with the behaviour of police officers and police staff. You can also use the IPCC’s online complaint form to send your complaint directly to the IPCC.

Police Complaints Procedure

Complaints about inappropriate behaviour of police officers and staff must be reported within 12 months of the incident taking place. Details should be as accurate as possible and include the time and date of the incident, the people involved and the police identity numbers if possible. Also try to include the names of any witnesses to the incident and anything that may support your claim such as CCTV cameras in the area. Witness statements will also be helpful but should be set out only by the witnesses.

Investigating the Complaint

The complaint will be investigated by a complaints and discipline department within the police force. Most complaints will be dealt with through the local police force but there are exceptions. Very serious complaints such as assault, corruption and discriminatory behaviour may be passed on to the IPCC. The IPCC may then conduct a supervised investigation. The IPCC can conduct supervised, managed and independent investigations depending on the seriousness of the allegation.

Why You Should Complain?

Many people who feel they do have a justifiable complaint against the police will simply forget the matter due to fear of consequences. However, the police do take complaints against police officers very seriously and allegations should always be thoroughly investigated. By making a complaint you are taking a stand that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated within your own community. Complaints should also always be made if you are a witness to any type of police misconduct.

The Complaint Outcome

There are a number of different scenarios that may be the result of an allegation made against the police. As a result of a complaint the police may have to improve or change their procedures. If the complaint is of a particularly serious nature it may end up being taken to the criminal courts. The police may also end up taking misformal conduct action against the individual officer or officers that the complaint was made against.

Making an Appeal

If you feel that the complaint was not appropriately handled or you are unhappy about the outcome then you may be able to complain to the IPCC. The IPCC will look at the appeal and make a decision as to whether or not to investigate the matter further. The IPCC can also make the police change their decision or investigate the allegation further.

Members of the public should never be afraid of making a complaint against the police. Making a complaint is the only way to ensure that police misconduct is not tolerated within the community.

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[Add a Comment]
Have had police refusing to respond to crime, stating it is a civil matter, they ignore crimes which are defined as such by the Home Office, but simply refuse to respond. Is there any way to have them do their duty.
PJ - 12-Oct-17 @ 5:15 PM
Dabby - Your Question:
Arrested then no further action taken, had to inform my employer and I willingly signed for them to access my police records. Subsequently now face dismissal as there was another allegation of harassment, damage to property and theft which I was unaware of and never charged for, but which my employer state I never made them aware of. I have since been in touch with my solicitor who advised to go down the police complaints route and take it from there. Is this necessary?

Our Response:
If that's what your solicitor advises (and he/she will have more background information than we do) then we would go along with that.
CivilRightsMovement - 10-Oct-17 @ 2:26 PM
Arrested then no further action taken, had to inform my employer and I willingly signed for them to access my police records.Subsequently now face dismissal as there was another allegation of harassment, damage to property and theft which I was unaware of and never charged for, but which my employer state I never made them aware of.I have since been in touch with my solicitor who advised to go down the police complaints route and take it from there.Is this necessary?
Dabby - 9-Oct-17 @ 12:26 PM
Marimena - Your Question:
I was involved in an accident Christmas of 2015. I was driven into by a private police car when it tried to overtake as I was turning at a junction. The inspector that reviewed the dash can footage came to our home and apologised and said that it was the mistake of the police officer. I was not concerned about taking legal action against the police but 2 years on I am still suffering from whiplash and most annoyingly although police had said it was not my fault the insurance found me responsible. Is there any type of compensation I can get to try and seek private medical treatment? Many thanks

Our Response:
You should seek professional legal advice about this, it's not something we can advise on.
CivilRightsMovement - 29-Sep-17 @ 3:31 PM
I was involved in an accident Christmas of 2015. I was driven into by a private police car when it tried to overtake as I was turning at a junction. The inspector that reviewed the dash can footage came to our home and apologised and said that it was the mistake of the police officer. I was not concerned about taking legal action against the police but 2 years on I am still suffering from whiplash and most annoyingly although police had said it was not my fault the insurance found me responsible. Is there any type of compensation I can get to try and seek private medical treatment? Many thanks
Marimena - 28-Sep-17 @ 6:04 PM
My son died after contact with south Yorkshire police The IPCC did everything they could to prevent the course of justice which includes withholding witness statements from us he family altering witness statements (my statement was altered) The police officer who attacked my son lied at the The expolice officer was the family liasion. officer and IPCC his questioning of us he family got so bad I had to ask him to leave my house He never told us we could have an independent autopsy we didn't stand a chance The police said my son drown LIE my son didn't How do I get justice for my son
mum123 - 25-Sep-17 @ 11:37 PM
My wife gave a statement to police and signed it.elating to a rape ordeal she went through.the detective has not questioned the named person.but still wants my wife to make a video.she feels her ordeal is coming second.no support has been offered nor has she been given any information on how this investigation is going to be treated.
Bryzee - 21-Sep-17 @ 8:11 AM
Nicky - Your Question:
My bf has had a conviction for assault, he's served his time and is now trying to get on with his life.However he is getting harrassed and having people inciting violence towards him, even taking pictures of him while he does his shopping! He has gone too the police where he lives and they have said they won't do anything as they want to keep the public happy. He's been to see them again and said they still won't do anything. I don't understand how he's getting harrassed and the police will not do anything about it. He pays his taxes, he works so hard. But he is now struggling. Are we able to make a complaint?? Thank you

Our Response:
We don't know enough about the circumstances to be able to tell you whether this is worth of a complaint against the police, sorry.
CivilRightsMovement - 20-Sep-17 @ 12:02 PM
My bf has had a conviction for assault, he's served his time and is now trying to get on with his life. However he is getting harrassed and having people inciting violence towards him, even taking pictures of him while he does his shopping! He has gone too the police where he lives and they have said they won't do anything as they want to keep the public happy. He's been to see them again and said they still won't do anything. I don't understand how he's getting harrassed and the police will not do anything about it. He pays his taxes, he works so hard. But he is now struggling. Are we able to make a complaint?? Thank you
Nicky - 19-Sep-17 @ 3:47 PM
Cubanturkey - Your Question:
After getting separated from my ex partner I have been the victim of serious harassment from her and her partner. She lives in a small village where most of the police are local and are friends of hers. I'm continually being pulled into the police station in my own area over these false allegations. Almost 2 years ago a police officers wife entered my taxi and threatened me by telling me that if any charges were pressed against my ex they would be lost and not followed up but their local police force were looking to help her out by charging me for stupid things. I've complained to police Scotland only to be ignored. I've been released every time without charge after 22 times in police station it's driving me nuts

Our Response:
You need to make a complaint to the IPCC about this. It might be worth seeking professional legal advice - 22 times seems particurly excessive, especially if no charges have ever been made.
CivilRightsMovement - 19-Sep-17 @ 1:45 PM
After getting separated from my ex partner I have been the victim of serious harassment from her and her partner. She lives in a small village where most of the police are local and are friends of hers. I'm continually being pulled into the police station in my own area over these false allegations. Almost 2 years ago a police officers wife entered my taxi and threatened me by telling me that if any charges were pressed against my ex they would be lost and not followed up but their local police force were looking to help her out by charging me for stupid things. I've complained to police Scotland only to be ignored. I've been released every time without charge after 22 times in police station it's driving me nuts
Cubanturkey - 18-Sep-17 @ 3:58 AM
I gave a witness statement to the police which was true to the best of my knowledge, I then tried to give photographic evidence to the officer, who refused to take it from me, this may or may not of had an impact on the guilty verdict of the case. I filed a complaint and had proof of this in my phone. He then arrested me (seizing my phone) for making a false statement and due to this I was told my complaint could not get dealt with until my arrest/case was over.I got a letter telling me no further action was being taken against me, but when I tried to get my phone back I was told I couldn't have it as the same officer was challenging the decision of the cps It Has since become apparent that part of my statement was not accurate, but was still to the best of my knowledge at the time given. I have been found guilty of perverting the course of justice, and have been told I will get a custodial sentence. Mystatement was changed and original went 'missing'.
Alice - 6-Sep-17 @ 8:11 PM
Ella - Your Question:
I was encouraged to complain about the police by Victim Support and I received a visit by two officers after dark saying that Victim Support had sent them to see if I was alright.Another member of my family was present. The officers then went on to say that they didn't Ike people complaining about colleagues. I don't feel I can report anything to the police anymore. I have health difficulties which makes everything harder.

Our Response:
This is a completely inappropriate thing for a police officer to say. The IPCC may be willing to address this
CivilRightsMovement - 23-Aug-17 @ 9:56 AM
I was encouraged to complain about the police by Victim Support and I received a visit by two officers after dark saying that Victim Support had sent them to see if i was alright.Another member of my family was present. The officers then went on to say that they didn't Ike people complaining about colleagues. I don't feel I can report anything to the police anymore. I have health difficulties which makes everything harder.
Ella - 21-Aug-17 @ 5:30 AM
The police have been informed by the ICO that they must provide me with certain documents I've requested because i'm legally entitled to them. It is now 2 months later and every time I call up they tell me the person dealing with my claim is in a meeting. The police honestly believe they don't have to follow the law because they are never held accountable.
Ffeds - 16-Aug-17 @ 9:08 PM
Ss - Your Question:
Hi I reported a crime 2months ago of threats to kill and racial words the police still haven't action anything what can j do

Our Response:
You could seek professional legal advice, or if you evidence that the police took no action, make a complaint to the IPCC.
CivilRightsMovement - 15-Aug-17 @ 11:44 AM
Hi I reported a crime 2months ago of threats to kill and racial words the police still haven't action anything what can j do
Ss - 12-Aug-17 @ 10:40 PM
H - Your Question:
I recently had someone try to run me over twice in an Asda car park in front of multiple witnesses. The police have charged him with making a racial comment (before trying to harm or kill me). I feel this has been taken far too lightly, what can I do?Thanks in advance for any help

Our Response:
If you don't feel the police have acted in the correct manner, follow the guidance on the IPCC website
CivilRightsMovement - 27-Jun-17 @ 10:22 AM
JimT - Your Question:
Hi,My house was recently broken into but we weren't present. Our neighbours called the police at least twice, possibly 3 times, once at 3am, second time at 6am, and possibly 3rd at 6:15am - when the break in itself was taking place - yes, they returned 3 times. We feel that because the police did not originally attend at 3am, this may have prevented the break-in and our belongings taken. Do you think we have a complaint here? We have emailed the police to query this but no response after 3 days.Thanks.

Our Response:
It's certainly worth making a formal complaint about (a) lack of response at the time of the incident and (b) lack of response to your follow up complaint. Here is the IPCC how to complain page
CivilRightsMovement - 26-Jun-17 @ 2:46 PM
I recently had someone try to run me over twice in an Asda car park in front of multiple witnesses. The police have charged him with making a racial comment (before trying to harm or kill me). I feel this has been taken far too lightly, what can I do? Thanks in advance for any help
H - 24-Jun-17 @ 10:17 AM
Hi, My house was recently broken into but we weren't present. Our neighbours called the police at least twice, possibly 3 times, once at 3am, second time at 6am, and possibly 3rd at 6:15am - when the break in itself was taking place - yes, they returned 3 times. We feel that because the police did not originally attend at 3am, this may have prevented the break-in and our belongings taken. Do you think we have a complaint here? We have emailed the police to query this but no response after 3 days. Thanks.
JimT - 23-Jun-17 @ 11:12 PM
Yasmin - Your Question:
HiMy partner was arrested 2 months ago but he was released without being charged. In the process of the arrest some of my property was seized as being necessary for the investigation. I have not gotten my property back yet and when I call to find out I get told theres nothing I can do but wait. Its been more than 2 months now and I need my laptop for work. What can I do to get my property back or make a complaint against this?

Our Response:
We really don't know - you need to check with a solicitor
CivilRightsMovement - 16-Jun-17 @ 12:15 PM
Hi My partner was arrested 2 months ago but he was released without being charged.In the process of the arrest some of my property was seized as being necessary for the investigation.I have not gotten my property back yet and when I call to find out I get told theres nothing I can do but wait.Its been more than 2 months now and I need my laptop for work.What can I do to get my property back or make a complaint against this?
Yasmin - 13-Jun-17 @ 9:51 PM
Cassie- Your Question:
Hi my car was write off while being parked. There was a witness who saw everything. I reported it to the police and they lost the form so I submitted it again. I've had a letter from the police saying my witness did not co-operate. My witress sent the form back to the police recorded delivery and kept the receipt which shows it was signed for. Police are now saying I ran out of time. everything was sent in plenty of time.I'm fuming. I've made a complaint but heard nothing

Our Response:
Who did you complain to? Try letting the IPCC know about this. The best thing to do would be to tell your insurer, give them the police incident number and let them sort it out.
CivilRightsMovement - 3-Apr-17 @ 2:26 PM
Hi my car was write off while being parked. There was a witness who saw everything.I reported it to the police and they lost the form so I submitted it again. I've had a letter from the police saying my witness did not co-operate. My witress sent the form back to the police recorded delivery and kept the receipt which shows it was signed for. Police are now saying I ran out of time.. everything was sent in plenty of time ..I'm fuming.I've made a complaint but heard nothing
Cassie - 31-Mar-17 @ 5:05 PM
Stix - Your Question:
I av been sentenced for blackmail twice with same victim. I can prove that I was in prison the first time.an the second time.there was only the evidence that I'd done it be four but I hadn't.I was mentally I'll at both times an feel as tho I was misrepresented. Could you please help me cus I can't get over the situation even now years later.thank you an I'll wait for your replied.

Our Response:
We can't help in situations like this. You need to seek legal advice....try Citizens' Advice to start.
CivilRightsMovement - 21-Mar-17 @ 11:38 AM
I can relate to most of your stories i was told that i have mental health problems by the police they referred me to mental health because i am asking why treat my family and I like thieves it is not a joke and they all lies together for one another they don't care I have complained to the IPCC and i want to see what the outcome will be if they would come and section me for talking the truth why can't you talk the truth in this country what is happening
Trinitidbone - 20-Mar-17 @ 1:22 PM
The police use their powers to intimidate you because they believe we are too scared to confront them but i had enough of them are their lies they are treating my family and I like thieves for the past 7 years and even using our car numbers so when we go for petrol they come to the window and looking at us we changed? out cars and the same thing is happening what i want to know who give them all this authority to treat people like dogs this is discrimination because you don't have a life at all.
Trinitidbone - 20-Mar-17 @ 1:14 PM
I av been sentenced for blackmail twice with same victim. I can prove that I was in prison the first time.an the second time.there was only the evidence that I'd done it be four but I hadn't.I was mentally I'll at both times an feel as tho I was misrepresented. Could you please help me cus I can't get over the situation even now years later.thank you an I'll wait for your replied.
Stix - 18-Mar-17 @ 1:05 PM
Lew - Your Question:
Hi I will keep this short as I can need some advice I was on my motorcycle yesterday evning when a police car going in the opposite direction spun around followed me to my address and as I was going thew my gate in my back garden the officer jumped on my back and tried pulling me off my motorcycle only stopping ones my fiance come outside with my 9 moth old girl in her arms then his attitude changed abit I told him to get off my property as he was being very aggressive and obviously me not being very happy I didn't wish to speak to him he wouldn't leave so I ushered my fiance indoors and tried closing my back door but couldn't because the officer stuck his foot in my door he said his resons for doing it was first because my rear light wasn't working then it changes to speeding then he changed it to going over a mini roundabout then assault. They did not make any attempts to pull me over what I would of done if they did as my bike is mine and all up to scratch I feel as if I should complain I do have video evidence of this from he had his foot in my door as I felt very threatened at that point. Any advice would be very much appreciated

Our Response:
If you feel you were unfairly treated and have evidence to back this up, it might be worth lodging a complaint.
CivilRightsMovement - 22-Feb-17 @ 2:04 PM
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