Complaints FAQ

How will my complaint be resolved? (Click for more information)

Our aim is to resolve your complaint as quickly as possible. When the Professional Standards Department formally record your complaint in accordance with the Police Reform Act 2002, an initial assessment is made (on face value, without any further investigation) to determine whether - if the complaint was proved - the outcome would be one of: 

  • Performance - The conduct complained of, if proved, would not justify criminal or misconduct proceedings, or involves the infringement of Article 2 (right to life) or Article 3 (protection from torture) of the Human Rights Act.
  • Misconduct - A breach which would justify the service of a Final Written Warning.
  • Gross Misconduct - A breach so serious that dismissal would be justified.

Misconduct and Gross Misconduct investigations are normally carried out by staff from the Professional Standards Department.

Sometimes, it is necessary to refer complaints to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), who will decide whether or not to investigate the complaint independently from North Wales Police.

The majority of complaints are determined to be neither criminal nor misconduct. The IOPC expect us to resolve such complaints as a ‘Local Resolution’. This is the simplest and quickest way to resolve your complaint, and provides you with the opportunity to speak directly to someone about your concerns.

We will find out what happened, provide you with an explanation and offer an apology if appropriate. You will be asked to give your written consent to the local resolution process and agree an action plan. Whether or not a complaint is ‘locally resolved’ or investigated, any outcomes (including individual / organisational learning) will be the same.

Where it may be disproportionate to undertake a full investigation, we may enforce a ‘Local Resolution’, even without the consent or co-operation of the complainant. More serious allegations will likely result in a proportionate investigation being completed.

How will you keep me informed of the progress of my complaint? (Click for more information)

You have the right to be kept informed about the progress and outcome of your complaint, whether it is being carried out by us or by the IOPC. The investigator will inform you: 

  • How your complaint will be dealt with
  • What co-operation they require from you, such as providing a statement or the details of any witnesses
  • How a decision will be reached
  • The action that will be taken upon conclusion of your complaint

They will also agree with you how often and by which method you want to be contacted. If you prefer, you can agree for communication to take place via a third party such as a solicitor, rather than between you and the appointed officer.

What will happen once my complaint has been dealt with? (Click for more information)

You will be informed of the outcome of your complaint once it is completed and we have taken the required action (if the complaint is upheld). For example, this could mean: 

  • We may take formal disciplinary or management action against an officer or staff member
  • The case may be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which will decide if there is enough evidence to bring criminal charges against a member of the force
  • If learning points are identified as a result of the investigation, we will ensure these are used to improve our service and minimise the chance of the issue happening again

In some cases, there may not be enough evidence to uphold your complaint. This does not mean you have not been believed, but that there is insufficient evidence to prove or disprove your complaint.

What is disapplication? (Click for more information)

There are certain limited circumstances where a recorded complaint does not have to be dealt with under the Police Reform Act 2002. This is called disapplication and means that the police may disapply the requirements of Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002 in relation to a complaint.

A disapplication may only take place if the complaint fits one or more of the following conditions: 

  • More than 12 months have elapsed between the incident (or the latest incident) and the complaint being made, and there is no good reason for the delay, or that the delay may cause injustice
  • The matter is already the subject of a complaint made by (or on behalf of) the same complainant
  • The complainant has not provided their name and address, or that of any other interested party, and it is not reasonably practical for us to find out what it is
  • The complaint is vexatious, oppressive or otherwise an abuse of the complaints procedure
  • The complaint is repetitious
  • It is not reasonably practical to complete the investigation of the complaint, or any other procedures under Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002

How can I make an appeal relating to my complaint? (Click for more information)

You have the right to appeal to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) if the police do not record your complaint.

As a general rule, if your complaint relates to alleged misconduct or gross misconduct, the relevant appeal body will be the IOPC. For matters not relating to misconduct, the relevant appeal body will be the Head of Professional Standards for North Wales Police, provided they have had no dealings with your complaint.

The appeal body will be noted at the end of the decision letter you receive from the Professional Standards Department. If that body is the police, you can request an appeal form from the Professional Standards Department via these contact details: 

Professional Standards Department
Police Headquarters
Glan Y Don
Colwyn Bay
LL29 8AW

Or via email:

The Superintendent will seek to review any appeals within three months and you will be kept updated should the period extend beyond this.