Our role in handling complaints and misconduct

In this section we summarise the way complaints about the police are dealt with, and explain HMIC’s role in this process.

The role of HMIC

HMIC doesn’t have a remit to investigate or resolve individual complaints. However, as part of HMIC’s role in assessing police force efficiency and effectiveness, we have a statutory duty to keep ourselves informed of how police forces handle complaints and misconduct.

In addition, if a police and crime commissioner (PCC) decides that it is appropriate for a complaint to be investigated by someone from outside the force, it has become customary for them to be able (if they wish) to ask HMIC for assistance in identifying who this should be.

Complaints about the police

All complaints, in the first instance, should be directed to the relevant police force. You can find contact details and forces’ complaints procedures on their websites.

Should you feel that you wish to take your complaint further, the PCC holds the police force to account and also has the legal power to hold the chief constable to account.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) (external link)considers appeals from people who are dissatisfied with the way a police force has dealt with their complaint.

The police force and PCCs are also obliged by law to refer certain complaints to the IPCC. HMIC and the IPCC have a duty to co-operate with each other.

Complaints about the conduct of individual officers

The arrangements for resolving complaints about the conduct of individual police officers are set out in legislation.

The PCC is responsible for monitoring complaints made against officers and staff, while having responsibility for complaints against the chief constable.

Oversight of the complaints system

The IPCC has a statutory guardianship role for the police complaints system as a whole. The IPCC’s main role is to increase public confidence in the police complaints system in England and Wales.

Arrangements for complaints and misconduct in London

While the arrangements for the Metropolitan Police Service and the City of London Police are similar to those set out above, there is some local variation.