How we deal with your complaint

Each complaint received will be assessed to determine whether it is one that we can, and should, investigate.

‘CAN’ we investigate your complaint?

  • is the person you are complaining about a councillor?
  • did the conduct occur within the last six months?
  • is the conduct something that is covered by the Code?

‘SHOULD’ we investigate your complaint?

  • is there evidence which supports the complaint?
  • is the conduct something which it is possible to investigate?
  • would an investigation be proportionate and in the public interest?

Click here for more information about what we mean by ‘in the public interest’.

We aim to complete our assessment of your complaint within 4 weeks from the date we receive your complaint. If we decide not to conduct an investigation we will write to you explaining our reasons.

The Commissioner may decide to take action instead of, or in addition to, conducting an investigation.  We refer to this as ‘Alternative Action’. This might include requiring a councillor to apologise to a complainant or to attend training. Click here to view the Commissioner’s Alternative Action policy which contains more information about the types of Alternative Action we might take and when we might consider taking such action.

Investigations

If we decide to investigate your complaint, the investigation will be conducted by a Senior Investigating Officer. You will be able to contact the Senior Investigating Officer assigned to your complaint and he or she will inform you of progress at regular intervals.

An investigation may include some or all of the following:

  • Requesting and considering relevant documentation and paperwork from the council
  • Interviewing witnesses (you may be interviewed to clarify certain aspects of your complaint)
  • Considering media reports and social media content such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs
  • Reviewing any relevant audio recordings of council meetings and /or CCTV footage
  • We will also consider council policies and relevant legislation and case law.

Adjudications

The adjudication decision will usually be taken by the Commissioner following a public hearing. The complainant, the councillor and other witnesses may be required to attend the hearing to give evidence in person. We aim to notify the complainant and the councillor of the Commissioner’s decision within six weeks of the date of the hearing.

If the Commissioner finds that a councillor has failed to comply with the Code of Conduct she can decide to take no action or she may decide that the councillor should be censured, suspended or disqualified from being a councillor.

Further information on the service which the Commissioner provides in relation to complaints about the conduct of councillors can be obtained by clicking on the links below.