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Stages of the corporate complaints procedure

Whilst our complaints procedure outlines the formal processes to be followed, occasionally variations to the process may be required e.g by-passing Stage One and escalating the complaint to Stage Two.

Stage One - Express Your Dissatisfaction

Describe your complaint as fully and clearly as you can by telling us which members of staff, contractors or service you have dealt with (the complaint form PDF, 160.67 KB will guide you through the process).

You can ask someone to help you with your complaint at any of the Stages of our complaints procedure: this can be the Citizen's Advice Bureau or other organisations (see the list at the end of this page), or your local Councillor, or a friend or relative as long as they have your permission to represent you. We will help you to complete the complaint form if you ask us.

It will also be helpful if you send us copies of any letters or documents about your complaint. Please tell us what you'd like us to do to put things right. Send your complaint to the Corporate Complaints Officer (contact details are at the end of this page).

You will receive an acknowledgment within 7 working days of receipt of your complaint - the acknowledgement will name the service Manager responsible for investigating your complaint, and the likely timescale for response.

Our target for replying to complaints at this Stage of our complaints procedure is 15 working days from the date of receipt of your complaint by us. If it is not possible to give you a full reply within this time, we will tell you when you can expect a reply.

When the investigation is complete, the service Manager will write to you and explain how and why they have come to their conclusions.

If your complaint is upheld (i.e. the outcome of the review finds in your favour), you will receive an apology and where appropriate, be given details of any action that we will take to remedy the situation or at least put things right for the future.

If your complaint is partially upheld (i.e. the outcome of the review finds in your favour, in part), you will receive an apology and explanation and where appropriate, be given details of any action that we will take to remedy the situation or at least put things right for the future.

If your complaint is not upheld (i.e. the outcome of the review does not find in your favour), you will be given an explanation. You will be given the name and contact details of the Corporate Complaints Officer, and advised what to do next if you are still not satisfied and wish to pursue your complaint under Stage Two. Please note that in certain circumstances, you may not be given the opportunity for a Stage Two review. The Council will always provide its reasons in the Stage One decision.

Stage Two - Formal Investigation

Stage Two may only be invoked if you have exhausted the Stage One process. You must set out clearly and in detail, why you remain dissatisfied.

You should write to the Corporate Complaints Officer (contact details are at the end of this page) You may do this by filling in the online complaint form or by letter, fax, email, NGT Relay, telephone, or by printing a copy of the complaint form PDF, 160.67 KB and posting this to us.

You should make it clear that you want to invoke Stage Two of our complaints procedure.

You will receive an acknowledgment within 7 working days of receipt of your complaint - the acknowledgement will name the person (an individual independent of the Stage One decision) responsible for considering and reviewing your complaint afresh and the likely timescale.

Our target for replying at this Stage of our complaints procedure is 21 working days from the date of receipt by us of your request to invoke Stage Two of the procedure. If it is not possible to give you a full reply within this time, we will tell you when you can expect a reply.

Because we are obliged to keep records of all formal complaints, we will need to agree a detailed, written statement of your complaint with you before embarking on a formal investigation. The person who considers and reviews your complaint under this Stage of our complaints procedure will:

  • Make sure that your complaint is clear

  • Check that the Stage One procedure has been completed

  • Review, with the person who dealt with your initial approach, the reasons for their response

  • Consider the issues afresh for themselves

  • Consult the Council's lawyers if there are any doubts about our statutory powers relevant to the issues

  • Decide upon their own findings in the light of these considerations and

  • Write to you setting out their findings

The review will produce a detailed response, which will contain sufficient information to show that your complaint has been fully investigated.

This will be our final response to you under our complaints procedure. If your complaint is upheld (i.e. the outcome of the review finds in your favour), you will receive an apology and, where appropriate, be given details of any action that we will take to remedy the situation or at least put things right for the future.

If your complaint is partially upheld (i.e. the outcome of the review finds in your favour, in part), you will receive an apology and explanation and where appropriate, be given details of any action that we will take to remedy the situation or at least put things right for the future.

If your complaint is not upheld (i.e. the outcome of the review does not find in your favour) you will be given an explanation. You will be given details of your right to complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, if you remain dissatisfied.

If your complaint concerns perceived harassment or unfair treatment by us because of your age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation, the following body is the ultimate authority to which to complain, following the Stage Two process:

Equality Advisory and Support Service FPN4431 
Tel: 0808 800 0082
Web:www.equalityadvisoryservice.com

Stage Three - An Ombudsman Investigation (please note that a different procedure applies to complaints relating to the Council's landlord functions)

We hope to resolve most complaints internally, but if you are not satisfied with the Stage Two response, or if we do not give you an answer within a reasonable time, you can ask the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman  to investigate your complaint. Although you can approach the Ombudsman at any time (in writing, by email, telephone or text), you must first give us a chance to answer the complaint.

Subject to the following exceptions, the Ombudsman will not accept a complaint unless it has been through all stages of a council's complaints procedure:

  • Complaints about homelessness

  • Complaints by or on behalf of children and young people

  • Complaints against more than one body

  • Complaints where the council's chief executive has exercised discretion not to investigate further

  • Complaints where the Ombudsman has exercised discretion to accept a complaint because he/she has good reason to believe the council would not handle it effectively

  • Where there has been unreasonable delay by the council in processing a complaint and

  • Although the Ombudsman will no longer routinely contact complainants who have made 'premature' complaints in order to check on progress, there may be complaints where the Ombudsman's Advice Team decides that it is appropriate to do so

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman is an independent watchdog for local government. A leaflet called  How to complain is available either from the main reception at the Civic Centre or by telephoning the Ombudsman's Adviceline or, a leaflet can also be downloaded from the Ombudsman's website http://www.lgo.org.uk/ Alternatively, you can make an electronic complaint by using the Ombudsman's online form www.lgo.org.uk/making-a-complaint

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

PO Box 4771 Coventry  CV4 0EH: Tel: 0300 061 0614: Fax: 024 7682 0001: Text 'call back' to 0762 480 3014

Corporate Complaints Officer

Civic Centre
Home Gardens
Dartford Kent DA1 1DR
Tel: 01322 343634, Online: Contact the DBC Corporate Complaints Officer

The following organisations may assist you in making a complaint:

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