Making a complaint to police

If you feel like the police have failed in their duties in investigating your missing person’s disappearance, or if you feel that they have treated you unfairly or in a discriminatory way, you can make a formal complaint.

Who do I complain to?

In almost all cases you will need to make a complaint directly to the police force that are handling your missing person’s investigation. You can do this in a number of ways:

If you are worried that something bad will happen if you make a complaint directly to the police force you can speak to the IoPC about this. However, in most cases, unless there might be serious consequences, the complaint will need to go to the force in the first instance. Although the police force will be responsible for investigating in the first instance, it will not be the officers directly involved in your case or anyone that you are complaining about. You have a legal right to make complaints about the force if you have experienced discrimination and your complaint should be taken seriously.

The IoPC review how police forces deal with complaints about discrimination. There is more information about their expectations on police forces here. Once you have made a complaint, if you are unhappy with how the police force have handled it, you can apply for an appeal or review. The letter you receive from the police with details about the outcome of your complaint will include details about how to do this. You normally have to apply for an appeal or review within 28 days of receiving the letter about the outcome of your complaint.

What should I put in my complaint?

You will need to fill out a form which will ask for:

  • Details about you like your name, date of birth and contact details.
  • Details about the incident that you’re making the complaint about, including when it happened and a section to write out what happened, what was said and done and any details about the harm it has caused.
  • What you would like to happen in response to the complaint.
  • Details of the police officers involved. You will also be contacted for further information once the complaint has been submitted so the form is not your only chance to explain, however, it is good to include as much detail as possible. If possible you should gather any evidence, like records of communication that you have had, however we know there isn’t always evidence available.

What happens when I make a complaint?

The police force will review your complaint and decide what needs to be done to address it. You should hear from them within a few weeks to tell you what action is being taken. In some cases they may be able to provide an explanation or apology, or other information to assure you that appropriate action is being taken. For some complaints, the force may carry out an investigation. You will be told how your complaint will be investigated and how a decision will be reached. However they handle your complaint, they will write to you to tell you the outcome and explain whether you can request a review or appeal.

Other options for making a complaint

You can write to your MP to tell them about the discrimination and they may be able to take action on your behalf.

You can speak to the staff at Missing People and we can talk through your options for next steps, or just listen to your concerns.


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