Our options when dealing with your complaint

After receiving your complaint, we will assess the information you have provided in order to decide what action, if any, we should take.

If we decide not to any action on your matter, you will be provided with reasons for our decision.

If we decide to act on your complaint, we may contact the agency about your concerns. Often, the agency will give a solution or an explanation that satisfies us. If this happens, we will contact you within four weeks to let you know the results.

If the agency is unable to provide a solution or explanation to your complaint that satisfies us, we can:

  • inspect their files and documents
  • conduct interviews
  • visit the site
  • ask them for a written report.

Sometimes, when the problem is not solved, or when we think the problem is very serious, we can start a formal investigation. This is a long and complex process. In these cases, we will keep you informed of our progress.

If after investigating the matter, we find your complaint is justified, the findings are reported to the agency concerned and the relevant minister. We also tell you about our findings.

In a report, we may recommend that:

  • the agency should reconsider or change their action or decision
  • a law, rule or procedure should be changed
  • the agency should take appropriate action such as pay compensation for financial loss or, in serious cases, initiate criminal proceedings.

We cannot force an agency to comply with our recommendations, but most agencies do. If they do not, and we believe it in is the public interest to do so, we can make a report to Parliament.

Complaints about police are handled differently to those about other agencies. Click here for more information

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