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Complaints about the Chief Constable

The way in which complaints about a Chief Constable (or Acting Chief Constable) are dealt with is described in legislation and there are different options for handling the complaint depending on its nature. 

Unless the subject matter of the complaint has been, or is already being, dealt with by means of criminal proceedings, the complaint may be determined either by the Police and Crime Commissioner, or the Independent Office for Police Conduct.   

We hope to be able to resolve your complaint quickly to your satisfaction. Complaints that require further investigation are likely to qualify for handling under legislation concerning police complaints and police misconduct (the Police Reform Act 2002, Schedule 3). 

Such complaints will be ‘recorded’, and we are required to notify you when we do this. Recording a complaint means that it has formal status under the Police Reform Act 2002. It must then be dealt with according to formal rules and guidance. If we do not record your complaint, and you are dissatisfied with our decision, you can appeal to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

We are required to promptly refer all qualifying complaints about the Chief Constable to the Independent Office for Police Conduct who will decide whether the matter should be investigated. We will notify you when we make such a referral.

A complaint that will be referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct is likely to be one that:

Where the conduct alleged, if it were proved

  1. could justify the bringing of criminal or disciplinary proceedings.
  2. involved the infringement of a person’s Human Rights
or alleges
  1. serious assault, or sexual offence
  2. serious corruption
  3. discriminatory behaviour on the grounds of a person’s status under the Equality, Diversity and Human Rights legislation
  1. the matter complained about resulted in death or serious injury.
  2. the gravity of the subject matter is considered to warrant referral.

You can make a complaint about the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police by:

  • Completing the feedback form at the bottom of this page
  • Writing to the Police and Crime Commissioner, Andy Hocking House, Alderson Drive, Exeter, EX2 7RP
  • Emailing
  • Phoning 01392 225555

What happens after a complaint about the Chief Constable is made?

We will acknowledge your complaint within three days. If needed, we will seek clarification from you to ensure that we properly understand your complaint, your views on how the complaint should be handled, the outcome you want and any adjustments that may be required to enable you to participate effectively in the process.

We aim to make a recording decision and notify you of this promptly, and in any event within 10 working days.

If we consider that your issue falls outside the police complaints system, we will inform you of this, and why. We will also explain the options available to you, including what you can do if you are dissatisfied with the way in which we propose to handle your complaint.

If we are not the appropriate body to deal with your complaint, we are required to send it to the appropriate body. We will inform you that we have done this, the content of what has been sent and the name of the body it has been sent to.

Sometimes, the outcome you want may not be possible, or may be unreasonable or disproportionate. If and when it becomes apparent that the outcome of a complaint is unlikely to meet your expectations, we will contact you promptly to explain the reason for this to you.

Similarly, where no further action is required of us to reasonably and proportionately respond to a complaint, we will provide you with a sound and clear rationale for this approach. We will also provide information about how you can appeal if you are not satisfied.

In any event, we will keep you informed on progress at least every 20 working days.

We will inform you in writing of the outcome of your complaint as promptly as possible following the outcome being determined. This will include an explanation of how the matter has been handled, the actions taken, the findings and the outcome. If appropriate, it will also include the reasons for not taking certain actions.

At the same time, we will provide you with details about your rights to appeal, who to address your appeal to, and what you are required to include in your request.

We are required to inform and keep you updated in writing, however depending on your needs, information can be provided both in writing and by another method to meet your needs.

The Complaints Against the Chief Constable Policy provides more detail about the way in which we are required to handle complaints about the Chief Constable.

Complaints referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct

If your complaint is referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct for investigation, unless there is a justifiable reason not to do so, they are required to keep you informed about the following:

  • Information about the stage reached
  • What has been done
  • What remains to be done
  • Where applicable, a summary of any significant evidence obtained.
  • The likely timescale for completing the investigation or other handling, any revisions to this and the reason for the revision.