How to Complain about the Police
Complaining about a police offer’s behaviour is not the same as complaining about a bad holiday or a defective television. The subject matter is often fraught with emotion, your objective may well be something other than compensation and in many cases you may well be scared of the consequences.
Fear not. You should not be afraid to complain about police behaviour whether your grievance is excessive force, rudeness or negligence. You can complain yourself or you can authorise someone on your behalf to bring the complaint. You can also complain as a third party witness to an incident involving bad behaviour.
- You should equip yourself with the Statutory Code of Practice before complaining – this is available online or at your local library and tells you precisely how police officers are expected to behave. When you complain, stipulate a precise breach of the Code if you can.
- You do not need to write an 18 page essay but your complaint should be in writing describing the basic facts about what happened, when, what was said and what evidence exists of damage. The sooner you make your complaint, the more credible it will be.Detail is important. Keep a note of the identity of the relevant police officer (his or her number appears on their shoulder badge). Note their vehicle number as well if relevant.
- You should address your complaint to the Police Complaints Authority at 10 George Street London SW1P 3AE – www.pca.gov.uk is the website for the PCA.
- If you want to you can go into a police station and complain directly you are perfectly entitled to do so but I would not recommend it. If you go down this route, take a friend with you as you may find it quite stressful.
- Other avenues worth exploring are a letter to your local MP or a letter to your local chief constable. If a complaint is very serious it can obviously lead to criminal proceedings or disciplinary action against the police officer concerned or civil proceedings. If you are minded to go for the latter you will need the help of a solicitor and bear in mind the costs consequences – you will have to pay for your legal fees and if you lose the case, you would have to pay for the legal fees of the police too. This course is therefore not for the poor or the faint-hearted.