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Guidance notes on unreasonable complainant behaviour

1. Introduction

1.1          The Cleveland Police and Crime Panel ("the Panel") is committed to providing a high quality service at all times when dealing with complaints made against the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland ("the Commissioner").

1.2          The Panel has delegated part of its role in handling complaints to a Complaints Sub- Committee ("the Sub-Committee), which is made up of Local Authority and Independent Co-opted Panel Members.

1.3          The Sub-Committee aims to consider all complaints made about the Commissioner within four weeks of recording a complaint, and to give complainants the opportunity to make further comments in support of their complaint. 

1.4          The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 set out the powers of the Sub- Committee in dealing with complaints made about the Commissioner. The Legislation is clear that consideration of a complaint by the Panel should not amount to an investigation. The Panel is therefore limited in the steps it can take to review a complaint, and the recommendations it can make as a result.

1.5          The Sub-Committee may decide not to apply the informal resolution process agreed by the Panel, should the complaint fail to meet certain criteria.

1.6          The Sub-Committee recognises that there may be times when a complainant may not be satisfied with the outcomes reached by the Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committee are committed to dealing with all complaints fully and in as timely a manner as reasonably practical, but are mindful of the need to abide by legislation. Should any individual not be satisfied with the Sub-Committee's handling of a complaint, an option open to them is to refer the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman.

1.7          Usually complaints reviewed by the Sub-Committee are subject to a straightforward process, but in a small number of cases complainants may begin to pursue their cases in way that detrimentally affects the handling of the complaint. Similarly, complainants who have had their complaints resolved by the Sub-Committee may continue to pursue their complaint, or request outcomes to their case that the Sub- Committee is unable or unwilling to grant.

1.8          The aim of this guidance is to advise complainants what the Panel consider to be unreasonable complainant behaviour, the options available to the Sub-Committee and the possible consequences to the individual.

1.9          The Sub-Committee will only invoke this guidance after careful consideration, and in exceptional circumstances. Individuals may have justified complaints but may be pursuing them in an inappropriate way, or they may be intent on pursuing complaints which appear to have no substance or which have already been investigated and determined.

1.10       Such complaints may rarely occur, but if a complainant's behaviour becomes unreasonable it may be decided to restrict the contact that person has with the Sub- Committee.

1.11       If the Sub-Committee decide to invoke this guidance, the individual concerned will be advised why it is considered his or her behaviour falls into that category, what action is being taken and the duration of that action.