Once our experienced officers have investigated your complaint, they’ll work with you to resolve it. But what if you can’t agree on an outcome?

Find out below what to expect at the end of the complaints process and how to appeal the outcome if you need to.

What outcome can I expect from my complaint?

The outcome of your complaint will be provided to you in writing.

In the case of local resolution, an officer or staff member could provide you with an explanation, offer an apology and identify learning to prevent the same thing happening in the future.

For any outcome, we’ll provide a summary of what we did, what we found and how we reached our conclusions. We’ll also include:

  • whether your complaint was upheld

  • whether we found any of our officers or staff to be unprofessional

  • any learning opportunities resulting from your complaint

  • any action taken against our officers and staff

Finally, we’ll let you know any follow-on actions, such as:

  • improvement or changes to our procedures

  • giving formal advice to improve individuals’ performance

  • a referral to the Crown Prosecution Service for criminal charges

  • formal misconduct proceedings, which could lead to dismissal

  • agreement that something went wrong, and deciding that no other action is appropriate

What is an appeal?

An appeal is a review of how the investigation into your complaint was completed. Where an appeal is made we don’t reinvestigate the complaint itself. Following a review, we’ll always let you know if the appeal has been upheld or not.

How do I appeal the outcome of a complaint?

If you’re unhappy with the outcome of your complaint, you might be able to appeal. At the end of our investigation, we’ll let you know how to submit an appeal and when you need to do it by.

Your appeal will be dealt with by the Independent Appeals Officer, who is a senior police officer, independent to the officers concerned in the complaint.

In some instances your appeal will be dealt with by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, for instance if your appeal is against a senior officer or was an investigation carried out by the PSD.

Making an appeal

If the force makes a decision to disapply as the outcome of your complaint, you'll get a letter telling you. The letter will also say who you can send an appeal to. This will either be:

  • the chief officer of the police force, or
  • the Independent Office for Police Conduct


Please make sure you send your appeal to the correct organisation (although if you get it wrong they'll forward it to the correct address).

You can complete an appeal against the police investigation into your complaint quickly and easily, using either our online forms or downloadable versions.

Appeal against an outcome of an investigation into a complaint

Appeal against a local resolution outcome

Appeal against a decision to stop dealing with my complaint ('disapplied')

Please note: all appeals must be received within 28 days of the day after the date of the letter from the Professional Standards Department providing you with the outcome of your complaint. This includes the time your letter spends in the post.

If you need more advice

If you're still not sure what to do next or you need more information, contact the Independent Office for Police Conduct or an organisation such as your local Citizens Advice Bureau. You can also talk to a legal adviser.