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Customer feedback and complaints policy

Expectations of complainant behaviour

The Council appreciates that complaints are sensitive in nature and that complainants will feel passionate about their concerns and will want to share this with the Council. Council Officers should at all times treat you with respect as an individual, listen to your concerns and provide you with the information as necessary.

The Council expects complainants to also behave in a respectful manner at all times through the process. This involves not using unacceptable language, derogatory terms, being personal in nature or threatening, either verbally or in your correspondence to the Council. If complainants decide not to behave in a respectful manner, the Council will take appropriate action to support and protect its staff. The Council has considered the guidance and good practice advice provided by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman in dealing with these matters and this is outlined below.

Persistent complainants

The Council recognises that having complaints investigated will be important to you and it is committed to resolving complaints where possible. There may be occasions where contact from complainants becomes so frequent and persistent that it hinders the Council's ability to consider the complaint and other individuals' complaints appropriately.

Examples of persistent behaviour include:

  • Contacting a number of Council Officers/one Council Officer about the same issues and not allowing each officer time to look into concerns and to respond before sending the next piece of correspondence/making contact.
  • Contacting a number of Council Officers/one Council Officer about the same issue or asking the same questions even though a response to the questions has been given.
  • Pursuing a complaint which has completed the Council's complaints procedure and/or the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman's process, where a final decision has been issued.
  • Sending a considerable amount of correspondence to the Council asking for updates on complaints when the expected response date has not yet passed.

In these circumstances the Council will contact the complainant, usually in writing, to inform and advise that their behaviour is not conducive to Council business and will explain the reasons for this. The complainant will be asked to reconsider their contact in future. If the persistence continues, a Senior Officer or Manager will decide whether the circumstances justify a restriction of contact. The individual will be informed of the reason for the decision and for how long the restriction will apply before reconsideration is given. Information relating to how the individual can appeal a decision will also be provided.

Examples of restrictions which may be considered include:

  • Restricting contact to one point of contact.
  • Restricting how contact can be made.
  • Limiting the contact to one form only and for a certain number of times (e.g. one letter per week)
  • Restricting telephone calls to specified days or times, or to voice messages only.

The action above will be taken to support Council Officers to consider the complaint and undertake their investigation. In all cases, appropriate records will be kept outlining the reasons for the action which has been taken and a date for when the action should be reviewed.

Unreasonable behaviour and unacceptable language

The Council will not tolerate any behaviour by complainants which is considered unacceptable, offensive, abusive, threatening or deceitful. The Council has a duty of care to its staff and as such will take any necessary action to protect Council Officers.

You will be informed if your behaviour, actions or language is deemed to be unacceptable and provided with an opportunity to reconsider your actions. Should such behaviour continue after this warning then the Council will not correspond with you any further about your complaint or decide not to discuss your complaint further with you if you are calling on the phone (i.e. terminating the call).

Council Officers will also consider if the unacceptable actions of complainants will be appropriate for the individual to be considered for inclusion on the Employee Protection Register (EPR). The EPR is a register which informs Council Officers of potentially harmful situations by providing effective information. Where appropriate to do so, individuals will be informed if they have been added to this register.

In cases where it is felt that the behaviour is extreme or threatens the immediate safety and welfare of staff, the Council will consider options such as reporting to the Police or taking legal action. In such cases, the Council may not give the complainant any prior warning.