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If you’d like to say thanks or make a complaint we’d like to hear from you.

Service Feedback

Your feedback helps to shape us. 

Policing is often carried out under difficult conditions. There may be times when you think we haven’t delivered the service you expect. Good or bad, your experience could help improve Policing across Northumberland and Tyne and Wear.

We are committed to preventing crime, protecting the vulnerable and  helping those in need.

How can I make a complaint against police?

You can make a complaint in the following ways:

Making a complaint FAQ

What can I complain about?

You can make a complaint if you:

  • have experienced inappropriate behaviour from a police officer, staff member, contractor or volunteer
  • have witnessed a police officer, staff member, contractor or volunteer acting inappropriately
  • have been adversely affected by the conduct of a police officer, staff member, contractor or volunteer, even if it did not take place in relation to you

If you want to make a complaint on behalf of another person, you will need to have their written permission.  This does not apply if you are the parent or guardian of a child aged 16 or under and wish to complain on their behalf.

 

Is there a time limit for making a complaint?

There is no time limit for making your complaint.  You should try and make your complaint as quickly as possible.  If a complaint is made a long time after the incident, it can be more difficult to obtain evidence.

If your complaint is made more than 12 months after the latest incident, you will be asked to explain why your complaint has been delayed.  Northumbria Police will consider your explanation and decide whether to deal with your complaint.

What happens after I make a complaint?

Northumbria Police will consider your complaint and make a decision about whether to record it.

You can expect to hear from Northumbria Police within 10 working days about whether your complaint has been recorded and, if it has not, the reason why.

Will my complaint be referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC)?

By law, Northumbria Police must refer certain complaints to the IOPC, including those that include an allegation of serious corruption or serious assault.

If your complaint is referred to the IOPC, they will decide who investigates it.  It may be investigated independently by the IOPC or it may be returned to Northumbria Police for local investigation.

If your complaint is not referred to the IOPC it will be dealt with by Northumbria Police either by local resolution or local investigation.

What is local resolution?

Local resolution is a way of understanding your complaint and resolving it by explaining, clearing up or settling the matter directly with you.  Local resolution is not seeking to establish blame or wrongdoing but is aiming to resolve your complaint.

The person conducting the local resolution will normally meet with you and discuss with you what a realistic outcome to your complaint may be.  A local resolution action plan may be agreed recording what actions are going to be undertaken to resolve your complaint.

The action plan may include a request for the officers or staff complained about to provide a verbal or written account of an incident.

Once the action plan has been completed, you will be provided with a record of the outcome.  This will usually be a written record of the outcome of the actions undertaken.

Once the local resolution process is completed, your complaint will be closed.  You will be provided with information about your right to appeal if you are unhappy with the outcome.

What is local investigation?

The purpose of an investigation is to establish the facts behind a complaint and reach conclusions.  This includes whether those subject of the investigation have a case to answer for misconduct, gross misconduct or unsatisfactory performance.

It is also an opportunity to capture any individual and organisational learning.

The investigation should be fair, reasonable and objective and based on evidence.  The investigation must be proportionate having regard to the nature of the allegation and any likely outcome.

A suitably qualified and experienced investigator will be appointed and should provide you with meaningful updates on the progress of the investigation at least every 28 days.

At the end of the investigation you will be provided with the outcome in the form of a letter or a report.  You will receive a clear explanation of what has happened based upon the facts established in the investigation and what action is being taken.  You will be provided with information about your right to appeal if you are unhappy with the outcome.

What can happen as a result of my complaint?

The possible outcomes of the complaint investigation are:

  • Management action. This is where a manager deals with the way someone has behaved through non-disciplinary action and can include words of advice or the creation of an improvement plan.
  • Misconduct meeting. This takes place when an individual is found to have a case to answer for misconduct.  The maximum disciplinary outcome is a final written warning.
  • Misconduct hearing. This takes place when an individual is found to have a case to answer for gross misconduct.  The maximum disciplinary outcome is dismissal without notice.
  • Unsatisfactory Performance Procedure (UPP) – this may be invoked due to an officer’s inability or failure to perform their role to a satisfactory level where there is no evidence of misconduct.
  • The outcome of the investigation may include non-disciplinary outcomes such as individual or organisational learning.

Get in touch 

If you’d like to say thanks or make a complaint we’d like to hear from you.

Get in touch using the online tool below.

               

Appeals

What is an appeal?

If you’re unhappy about the outcome of your complaint, or about the way your complaint has been handled, you can appeal. 

An appeal is a final opportunity to ask the Relevant Appeal Body to consider whether your complaint was adequately investigated or locally resolved and, if not, what needs to be done to address any outstanding matters.

Some appeals are handled by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and some by Northumbria Police.  To find out who should handle your appeal, please check the letter you received telling you the outcome of your complaint.  You should send your appeal to the correct organisation.  The letter you received will tell you when your appeal must be received.

Appealing against an investigation

You can appeal against the investigation into a complaint if:

  • You did not receive enough information to enable you to understand why Northumbria Police came to their decision.
  • You disagree with the findings of an investigation into your complaint. You might feel that the right witnesses were not interviewed, or that your complaint was misunderstood, or that Northumbria Police did not make the right decision based on all the evidence.
  • You disagree with the action that Northumbria Police plan to take after investigating your complaint.
  • You do not think that Northumbria Police made the right decision about whether an officer or staff member you complained about has a case to answer for misconduct, gross misconduct, or whether their performance was unsatisfactory.
  • You disagree with the decision not to refer the officer’s or staff members conduct to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for a decision about whether to bring criminal charges.

You cannot appeal if your complaint relates to a direction and control issue.

Appealing against an investigation form 

Appealing against the outcome of a local resolution

You can appeal against the outcome of a local resolution if:

  • You think that the outcome of the local resolution of your complaint was not a proper one. This means that, for example, you believe the outcome was not appropriate to the complaint, or the outcome did not reflect the evidence available.

Once you have made your appeal it will be assessed using all the available papers and supporting evidence that you and the investigator have supplied.  The person looking at your appeal will make their decision based on a range of factors.  Once the appeal decision of either ‘upheld’ or ‘not upheld’ is made, you will be written to with an explanation of the reasons for the decision.

Appeal decisions are final.  This means that they can only be overturned by the courts through the judicial review process. You should seek independent legal advice if you intend to pursue this course of action.

Appealing against the outcome of a local resolution form 

Appeal against a decision to disapply

You may be able to appeal if the complaints process was stopped before an investigation into your complaint began. This situation happens when the police force involved makes a ‘decision to disapply’.

You can appeal if you think the police should not have decided to disapply.

You cannot appeal if your complaint is about a direction and control issue (this does not apply if your complaint is about a contractor), or if the IOPC gave the police force permission to disapply.

Appeal against a decision to disapply form

Appeal against the decision to discontinue an investigation

You may be able to appeal if a police force decides to end the investigation it is carrying out into your complaint.

You can appeal this decision if you do not think the police should have discontinued the investigation.

Please note, you cannot appeal when the complaint relates to a direction and control issue (this does not apply if your complaint is about a contractor), or if the IOPC gave the police force permission to disapply.

Appeal against the decision to discontinue an investigation form

How do I submit my appeal?

Please return your completed appeal form to:

Professional Standards Department

Newcastle City Centre Police Station

Forth Banks

Newcastle upon Tyne

NE1 3PH

 

Alternatively attach your completed appeal form and return by e-mail to:

professionalstandards@northumbira.pnn.police.uk

 

All appeals must be returned by the appeal expiry date as indicated on your decision letter.  

Professional boundaries

Report corruption

The below number is the confidential reporting line for you to report ANY matters you wish to bring to the attention of the Counter Corruption Unit, regarding criminal and/ or unethical behaviour you have witnessed or are aware of within the Force.

Examples of the type of behaviour you may wish to report are:

  • Disclosing of confidential information
  • Criminal associations
  • Abuse of position for sexual gain.

ANY reporting, will be handled in the strictest confidence and your identity will be protected.

Confidential Reporting Number
Tel: 01912219591
northumbria-confidential-hotline@northumbria.pnn.police.uk

Corruption Reporting Mailbox
countercorruptionunit@northumbria.pnn.police.uk

Abuse of authority for a sexual purpose

Abuse of position for a sexual purpose

The abuse of position for a sexual purpose is defined as:

'any behaviour by a police officer or police staff member (including volunteers or staff contracted into police roles), whether on or off duty, that takes advantage of their position as a member of the police service to misuse their position, authority or powers in order to pursue a sexual or improper emotional relationship with any member of the public'.

This includes: committing a sexual act, initiating sexual contact with, or responding to any perceived sexually motivated behaviour from another person; entering into any communication that could be perceived as sexually motivated or lewd; or for any other sexual purpose.

The majority of police officers and police staff (including volunteers or staff contracted into police roles) are hardworking, professional and deliver an excellent service, however, sadly corruption of this kind does occurs in all forces and we all have a responsibility to prevent it and to protect all sections of the community, most notably the vulnerable. 

People who are particularly vulnerable to such abuse include those suffering mental ill health, those with learning difficulties, juveniles, those who are drug or alcohol dependent, victims of abuse and victims of an alarming or traumatic experience.

Possible warning signs:

• The perception of an officer as a ‘knight in shining armour’. This might manifest itself as gushing praise.

• Victim has a ‘favourite officer’ or frequently requests a certain officer

• Unexpected visits / welfare checks by the officer

• Domestic abuse investigation is steered towards low level/ quick resolution

• Physical contact

• Flirtatious behaviour

• Nicknames/pet names

• Unnecessary communication i.e. through social media/phone/email

• Kisses on end of messages (‘x’) or other sexualised comments

• Contact or visits off duty

• Presents/gifts/letters

• Continued contact after an incident or case is concluded

• Victim will often not see that there is anything wrong with the relationship and how it started

Reporting Options

  • Call 101 and formally report as an incident
  • Report via a third party agency (IOPC, Local Authority, Solicitor, Citizens Advice Bureau, other support agency or charity)
  • Report via the Police Confidential Reporting Line

The below number is the confidential reporting line for you to report ANY matters you wish to bring to the attention of the Police Counter Corruption Unit, regarding criminal and / or unethical behaviour you have witnessed or are aware of within the Force.

Examples of the type of behaviour you may wish to report are, Disclosing of confidential information, Criminal associations and Abuse of position for sexual gain.

ANY reporting, will be handled in the strictest confidence and your identity will be protected.

Confidential Reporting Number
Tel: 01912219591
northumbria-confidential-hotline@northumbria.pnn.police.uk

Lessons learnt

IPOC lessons learnt

IOPC lessons learnt

Visit: IOPC Learning the Lessons

 

Accessing data on the force computer system

Issue

Misconduct meetings have revealed issues around officers/staff accessing data on the Force Computer System without a policing purpose.

Lessons

Issues around confidentiality have been addressed during Professional Standards Department (PSD) presentations to all officers/staff across the Force during 2017 and 2018. An awareness of the impact/outcome of any breaches was highlighted during these inputs. A Force Wide bulletin was also circulated.

Outcomes

Reduce/Prevent breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998/Computer Misuse Act 1990  and the Professional Standards of Behaviour; Confidentiality.

Further Details

Professional Standards Department has carried out a number of investigations  where police officers/police staff have allegedly accessed confidential and personal information on the Force Computer System without a policing purpose. Such action, if proven, would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour i.e. confidentiality. 

Such actions may also constitute a criminal offence under Section 55 Data Protection Act 1998 and/or Section 1 Computer Misuse Act 1990.

So that lessons can be learned, officers/staff need to be aware that any confidential and personal information they access on the Force Computer System must be related to their role and/or for a policing purpose. 

Failure to comply may result in individuals facing criminal prosecutions/convictions at court and regulatory action against the Force undertaken by the Information Commissioner’s Office. 

To ensure that all officers and staff understand their personal responsibility when using Northumbria Police ICT Systems there is an Acceptable Use Policy which they are asked to read.

Adhering to this policy safeguards confidential and sensitive information, protecting officers/staff and the reputation of the Force. 

Drunk and incapable

Issue

Increase in the number of persons who have been brought unnecessarily into custody whilst heavily under the influence of alcohol, drugs and other intoxicants.

Lessons

Amendments have been made to the Force Policy/Procedure on drunk and incapable to bring them up to date. A lessons learned bulletin was circulated Force wide and published on the force intranet site, providing guidance on how to deal with persons who present in such a way.

Outcomes

Medical attention provided to persons who present as drunk and incapable at the earliest opportunity. Prevent/reduce the risk of deaths in custody.

Further Details

There was an increase in the number of persons  brought unnecessarily into custody whilst heavily under the influence of alcohol, drugs and other intoxicants.

CCTV within custody suites has shown that these individuals have been:

  • Unable to either walk unaided or stand unaided and have been unaware of their own actions, or unable to fully understand what has been said to them.

Persons who present in this condition should be treated in hospital rather than taken to a custody suite. The medical services at a Police Station are not equipped to provide the extensive care such detainees require.

Where a police officer/PCSO deals with a person who is drunk and incapable and/or heavily under the influence of drugs or intoxicants they will:

  • Administer first aid where appropriate, in accordance with their training.
  • Request the attendance of an ambulance to enable a medical assessment of the person to take place.

Where a person has declined or has been refused treatment this does not absolve the police or medical services of their responsibility. A dynamic risk assessment should be carried out taking into account all of the given circumstances. Officers should have an understanding of the drunk and incapable protocol between Northumbria Police and the North East Ambulance Service which will assist in the decision making process. 

However, arrest and detention at a custody suite should only occur in exceptional circumstances as appropriate medical treatment is delayed and increases the risk to all parties.

In instances where detainees are drunk/under the influence of drugs but are not deemed to be ‘incapable’, officers need to be confident that the person is fit to be transported to a custody suite and monitor their condition throughout the journey.

It is important to understand that a person who presents as being drunk and disorderly may in fact have another medical condition. Further information can be found on the College of Policing APP Guidance on Detention and Custody: Alcohol and Drugs.

Any person with a head injury or open wound which requires medical attention should go directly to hospital for treatment.

Update July 2018:

Issue

Further cases were referred to Professional Standards Department (PSD) where it was evident that persons deemed incapable through drink and/or drugs were still being arrested, transported and presented in custody.

Lessons

A Bulletin was sent out to front line officers on 6 July 2018 in relation to this issue.

A video was compiled by Learning and Development Department with the assistance from the Head of the Custody Unit and this was sent out to all front line officers to view.

Outcomes

Embed the message sent out in previous bulletins, informing officers that persons presenting as such need to be taken straight to hospital.

Prevent/reduce the number of Death and Serious Injury (DSI) incidents within Custody.

Missing persons

Issue

Missing persons who have subsequently been found deceased in circumstances which have resulted in mandatory referrals to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) due to police contact. Concerns were identified around the risk assessments carried out either at the time the person(s) was reported missing or during the period prior to them being found.

Lessons

A review of the training provided to silver/bronze commanders was carried out, particularly around risk assessments.

Outcomes

Review and implementation of further training to officers supervising missing person investigations.

Abuse of position for a sexual purpose

Issue

Officers/staff using their professional position to establish or pursue a sexual or improper emotional relationship with any current or former victim, offender or witness, or using contact with them to pursue a relationship with someone close to them. 

Lessons

During 2017 and 2018 Presentations/Briefings have been delivered by Professional Standards Department (PSD) staff to all officers/staff across the force on Maintaining Professional Boundaries.

Presentations/briefings have been delivered on the same issue by PSD staff to partners/agencies.

Outcome

To Prevent this serious form of corruption and highlight the importance of reporting any concerns/suspicions in relation to colleagues. 

Further Details

The abuse of position for a sexual purpose is defined as:

"any behaviour by a police officer or police staff member*, whether on or off duty, that takes advantage of their position as a member of the police service to misuse their position, authority or powers in order to pursue a sexual or improper emotional relationship with any member of the public"

This includes: committing a sexual act, initiating sexual contact with, or responding to any perceived sexually motivated behaviour from another person; entering into any communication that could be perceived as sexually motivated or lewd; or for any other sexual purpose. (*including volunteers or staff contracted into police roles)

The Standards of Professional Behaviour state that:

"We do not use our professional position to establish or pursue a sexual or improper emotional relationship with anyone with whom we come into contact with in the course of our work, who is vulnerable to an abuse of trust or power."

Performance

Misconduct outcomes and hearings

Northumbria Police demands the highest standards of professionalism, honesty and integrity from its officers and staff. Where those standards are not met, consideration may be given to instigating misconduct proceedings.

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