How do I respond to a complaint?
These can be made at the time of the incident in your pocketbook. This is one of the first places an investigator may look to get an initial 'feel' for an incident. Some officers write a lot in their books, others write very little. Officers may write more than they normally write when they have a feeling that a job 'is not right' or when they feel it may later result in complaint.

There is nothing wrong in doing this. Occasionally a job is so innocuous at the time it occurs that no notes are made. Don't worry about it, just because it isn't written down doesn't mean that it did or didn't happen.

I would add a word of caution however when an incident is of a more serious nature, i.e. a death in police custody, serious RTC and other such matters. Writing your initial notes directly after such an event is not always the best thing to do because thought processes will be affected - it is a human reaction to an emotional situation.

Do not in these circumstances feel the need to 'reactively' make copious amounts of notes until at least a couple of sleep periods after such an incident, i.e. 48-72 hours. Research has shown that these notes will be more accurate. In these extreme circumstances seek the advice of your local or 'on-call' Federation Representative.

When you first become aware that you are under investigation accept any notice you may be served politely, sign for it if required, and make no further comment at that time.

If you are asked for a copy of your notebook you should provide it.

Make sure you let your federation representative know about the complaint as soon as possible.

You should then send a copy of any notification you receive, along with any statement you made regarding the incident and copy of your PNB to your local rep. or direct to your federation office.

A quick phone call at this stage to your federation office may not be a bad idea for some initial advice. This step is important as there are shorter and better defined timescales for dealing with complaints under the 2008 regulations.

Not all investigations will result in an interview. On many occasions all that may be required is a written response from an officer. A useful and sometimes beneficial way of dealing with the anger that an officer feels when they are subject of a complaint is to write about it. Just take some blank paper, or create an empty 'Word' document if you are more 'computer savvy' and just write about the incident as you recall it. The document does not need to have any formal structure and can be a 'rant' if you so wish.

Include in this document everything you can remember about the job, how you felt, how the job concluded and pay attention to some of the aspects of the complaint alleged as you write it and include these as well.

Include questions and observations that you may have about the complaint that you would like answered, or that you have concerns about. Also include additional information that has come to light regarding the incident since it occurred. This document is for the use of yourself and your 'friend'- nobody else. It assists in a couple of ways;

It can form the basis of any written response that you may wish to make, edited and amended accordingly to reflect your recollection of the incident.

This will save you time in the long run, will be accurate, and is not any duplication of effort.

The document provides an excellent basis for meetings with your federation friend about the incident itself that highlights the issues and concerns you had at the time and subsequently.

Your 'friend' can then use some of these observations as a basis of questions and suggestions when providing lines of enquiry to investigators.

Finally, remember, keeping the Queens Peace is a job that will invite complaints. There is some consolation in the fact that many complaints are later found to be nothing more than misunderstandings or indeed malicious and result in no formal action.

One of the first things that my tutor constable taught me was to treat people as you would expect to be treated yourself unless they dictate otherwise. With that in mind don't let incivility and rudeness be the reason for your next complaint.
Category: MISCONDUCT, Last Updated: 21-02-2012 [74]