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What we do when we get your complaint about a local authority member’s conduct

This page explains what happens after you complain to us about the conduct or behaviour of members and co-opted members of local authorities, community councils, fire & rescue authorities, national park authorities and police and crime panels in Wales. It also explains the different approaches we can take when dealing with complaints like this.  This page does not cover every detail of our procedures. You can find these details here.  This page should be read together with the Code of Conduct factsheets, which you can find on our website here.

New complaints

All new complaints are acknowledged and we will notify the accused member, the Monitoring Officer of the relevant authority and the Clerk of the relevant Community Council (if appropriate) that the complaint has been made.  Any complaint like this must be supported by some direct evidence that the member you have complained about has breached their Code of Conduct.

We then examine the complaint and any supporting information against a two stage test.  At the first stage, we consider whether the evidence suggests that a breach of the code of conduct actually happened. At the second stage, we think whether, if proven, the alleged breach of the code is serious enough and in the public interest for us to investigate it. We aim to tell you within six weeks whether or not we intend to investigate your complaint.

If we cannot accept your complaint

If we decide not to investigate your complaint we will write to you to explain why. We will also send a copy of our decision to all persons that we previously notified about your complaint.

If we decide to investigate your complaint

If we decide to investigate your complaint, it will be considered by one of our investigators. He or she may contact you to discuss your concerns and explain what will happen next. We will always write to you and the parties previously notified about your complaint to confirm our decision to investigate. At this stage, the investigator will usually get further evidence, such as documents, any witness statements, evidence which may be needed from third parties, and information from the accused Member.

Each investigation varies. Although it may be necessary to interview the people involved, we may be able to conclude some cases by considering documents alone. We aim to complete all investigations within 12 months, but most are concluded sooner. We will keep you informed of how the investigation is progressing.

When we have all the information we need, we will write a report or letter in which we will explain what evidence we have considered and what we have decided.

We generally conduct our investigations in private. Disclosing details of our investigation may amount to a breach of the Code of Conduct for elected members.

Investigation outcomes

If we decide that there is no evidence of a breach the Code of Conduct, we will close the investigation and write to all parties to explain why.

If we decide that a breach of the Code may have happened we may sometimes decide that there is no need to do anything further. We can also refer the complaint once again to the Monitoring Officer of the relevant authority to consider whether further local investigation is appropriate.

If we decide that a complaint is justified, we may also refer it either to the Standards Committee of the relevant authority, or to a tribunal convened by the Adjudication Panel for Wales. Once we do that, it is up to these bodies to make a final decision about the complaint.

We will let you know about what we decided to do with your complaint and we will send you a summary of our report. We will also send a copy of our report to the accused member. The full version of the report is confidential until the Standards Committee or tribunal make their decision about the complaint.

If you are unhappy with our decision

Once we have decided not to investigate a complaint against an elected member, our task is effectively ended and we close our complaint file. We will not re-open a case solely because you may disagree with our decision. However, you may write to us within twenty working days to ask us to review your case. You may ask for this review if:

  • you have relevant new evidence to show us; or
  • you can show that in making our decision we have not properly considered the information that we received previously.

Our Review Officer will consider if there are grounds to review your complaint and if we need to do anything further.

In times of trouble or distress, some people may act out of character. There may have been upsetting or distressing circumstances leading up to a complaint. We do not view behaviour as unacceptable just because someone is forceful or determined.

We believe that all complainants should have the right to be heard, understood and respected. However, our staff also have the same rights. We, therefore, expect you to be polite and courteous in your dealings with us. We will not tolerate aggressive or abusive behaviour, unreasonable demands or unreasonable persistence.