Police Complaints

Police complaints and the law

In many cases we recommend that in the first instance a police complaint is raised. Once that complaint has been made and investigated, there is likely to be further information and evidence that can be used to support a police compensation claim.

We do not generally make the complaint ourselves, but our lawyers can offer support and guidance to enable you to do this yourself. If you would like us to deal with the complaint, then we will be happy to provide you with an estimate of our charges.

Police complaints in England and Wales are made to the individual police force in question. Since 2017 the complaints system is regulated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, known as the IOPC.

The complaints system is not confined to complaints against individual officers as it was previously and now includes a wide range of issues including the service provided by the police as an organisation. The definition of a ‘complaint’ is therefore:

“any expression of dissatisfaction with a police force which is expressed … by or on behalf of a member of the public.”

Complaints can be made by anyone who claims that the conduct of a police officer took place in relation to them. Complaints can also be raised by witnesses to the police conduct and anyone else who has been adversely affected.

Police complaints will always be referred to the IOPC where it is alleged that the conduct being complained about has led to death or serious injury.

Other mandatory IOPC referrals include:

  • a serious assault;
  • a serious sexual offence; and
  • serious corruption.

The IOPC will also investigate cases that are referred to them by the police because of the gravity of the subject matter or exceptional circumstances. These are known as discretionary referrals.

The time limit for making a police complaint is 12 months.

If you would like to appoint us to deal with your police complaint, then please contact us for details of the likely cost of doing so. Call our free legal helpline on freephone 0333 888 0419 or email us at [email protected]

While we cannot offer free advice on dealing with your police complaint, we will be happy to consider any potential police compensation claim that you wish to pursue once your complaint has been dealt with.