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Unreasonable Complainant Policy

Hampshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner Unreasonable Complainant Policy

1           Introduction

We are committed to dealing with all complainants and correspondents fairly and impartially, making our service as accessible as possible.

Complainants and correspondents are usually courteous and respectful, whatever the outcome of their issue is. However, there are occasions when a complainant or correspondent conducts themselves in an unacceptable or unreasonable way towards the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and or their staff. Whilst reasonable efforts will be made to understand any underlying cause of the behaviour, some conduct can be detrimental to complaint investigations, the normal running of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office (OPCC), the resources of the office and the welfare of its staff. The aim of this policy is to create a transparent framework for dealing with such behaviour.

  • This policy may be applied to any complainant or correspondent interacting with the PCC or the OPCC, irrespective of the person or organisation who is the subject of the complaint/correspondence and whatever the nature is of the complaint/correspondence, including, but not limited to:
  • A formal complaint.
  • A request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Data Protection Act 2018 or the General Data Protection Regulations.
  • Applications for review under Schedule 3, Police Reform Act 2002 and the Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2020
  • We would ask you to be mindful that the person dealing with your correspondence/complaint is managing many cases at any one time, using their time to best effect. This is much harder to do well if you make frequent, lengthy contacts and or keep sending them the same information. This gets in the way of us dealing with your correspondence/complaint and others.


  • Please note that this also applies to contacting us after our decision on your complaint, or when in our view our ability to assist you in the matter has been exhausted. We will not continue communicating with you in these circumstances. Continued contact or attempts to make the same complaint/raise the same issue prevent us from carrying out our work effectively.

2                Actions and behaviour considered to be unreasonable and or unacceptable

2.1     Certain behaviour is considered to be unreasonable because it impedes the     proper investigation of complaints and impacts the ability of OPCC staff to carry   out their roles effectively. This type of behaviour is detrimental to OPCC           operations and will include conduct that is unreasonably persistent in nature.

2.2     Unreasonable behaviour may include, but is not limited to:

  • Refusing/failing to specify the grounds of a complaint, despite offers of help.
  • Refusing/failing to cooperate with the complaints investigation process.

Refusing to provide information needed to conduct an investigation.

  • Refusing/failing to accept that certain issues are not within the scope of a complaints procedure, or the remit of the OPCC.
  • Insisting on the complaint being dealt with in ways which are incompatible with the adopted complaints procedure or with good practice.
  • Making unjustified complaints about staff who are trying to deal with the issues and seeking to have them replaced.
  • Changing the basis of the complaint as the investigation proceeds, including re-framing or re-wording a complaint that has already been finalised.
  • Denying or changing statements they made at an earlier stage.
  • Introducing trivial or irrelevant new information at a later stage.
  • Raising many detailed but unimportant questions, and insisting they are all answered.
  • Submitting falsified documents from themselves or others.
  • Adopting a ‘scatter gun’ approach: pursuing parallel complaints on the same issue with various organisations.
  • Contacting different people in an attempt to secure a different outcome.
  • Making excessive demands on the time and resources of staff with lengthy phone calls, emails to numerous OPCC staff, or detailed letters every few days, and expecting immediate responses.
  • Refusing to accept the OPCC’s decision about the complaint or issue and or repeatedly arguing points with no new evidence.
  • Submitting repeat complaints/correspondence with minor additions/variations the author insists make these ‘new’ complaints/issues.
  • Submitting vexatious complaints/correspondence, i.e., those which have no basis and are submitted purely to cause or have the effect of causing annoyance or disruption.

2.3     Certain behaviour is considered to be unacceptable because it has the potential to cause harm or detrimentally affect the health and safety of OPCC staff.

2.4     Unacceptable behaviour may include, but is not limited to: –

  • Verbal abuse, derogatory, discriminatory or defamatory remarks (verbal or written).
  • Using offensive language.
  • Escalating agitation, intimidating body language or invasion of personal
  • Harassment, intimidation or threats.
  • Threats of harm to people or property.
  • Stalking (in person or online).
  • Psychological manipulation.
  • Oppressive or coercive behaviour.

2.5     Where such behaviour threatens the immediate safety and welfare of OPCC staff, the police may be contacted, and legal action may be contemplated.


3       Warnings

3.1     In most instances if we consider your behaviour is unreasonable or unacceptable, we will explain why and ask you to change it. We will also warn you that, if the behaviour continues, we may take action to restrict your contact with us.

3.2     Where your behaviour is so extreme that it threatens the immediate safety and welfare of our staff, we may report the matter to the police or consider taking legal action. In such cases we may not give you prior  warning.


4        Restricting access to the OPCC

4.1     We will decide whether the circumstances require any restriction of access. They will record the reason for their decision and explain it to you. They will state how long any restriction will apply for before we reconsider.

4.2     The type of restrictions imposed could include:

  • Restricting telephone calls to specified days and limited times.
  • Limited contacts to one form only, for example, a maximum of one letter or email from you a week.
  • Requiring you to only contact us using one named staff member.
  • Requiring you to formally agree with us how you will behave in future before we continue working on your complaint and or
  • Using an independent advocate to work with you on your investigation into your complaint.

4.3       After six months we will review whether any restrictions we imposed are still necessary and should remain.

5          Ending access to the OPCC

5.1       It is our decision whether or not to investigate your complaint. If you continue to  behave unreasonably or ignore restrictions we have placed on access to our  service, we may decide to end our correspondence or work on your complaint. In exceptional circumstances we may do so without warning. We will write to explain the action we have taken

6          New complaints

6.1    If we have restricted our contact with you and you make a new complaint, we will decide whether or not to continue with any restrictions we put in place for    the earlier complaint.