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How to Complain About the Courts and Police

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 19 Jun 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Court Complaining Court Justice Appeals

The police and courts attempt to operate efficiently, but there may be incidents where you believe that you have been treated unfairly. In these cases you are completely within your legal rights to to make a complaint. The justice system we have is based in fairness. The law requires that defendants can usually appeal a court decision, and that citizens complaining about the court that has dealt with their case or the police are given a fair hearing.

How to Complain About the Police

There is an independent body called the Police Complaints Authority (PCA). This was set-up by central government to give the public a mechanism by which they could make complaints against the police. Each police force has its own complaints team that deal specifically with complaints directed at their officers.

Complaints about the police can range from minor offenses such as the use of excessive force during an arrest, to more serious complaints such as racism, or the death of a suspect in custody. The police are governed by a Code of Practice that gives them guidelines on how to behave and carry out their duties. You can see a copy of this code at your local library. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the code before you make a complaint.

Note that you should make your complaint within 12 months of the incident you are complaining about. Also, any serious incidents will have to go to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for consideration. If you have a complaint and live in England and Wales you make your complaint about the police in a number of ways. These include:

  • By contacted the police force directly
  • Via your solicitor or other legal representative
  • With the help of your local MP
  • With the help of the Citizens Advice Bureau

If you live in Scotland you should direct your complaint to the chief constable of the police force concerned. If the incident is serious and involved an officer breaking the law, your complaint should be directed to the Procurator Fiscal Service as this is the same as the CPS in England and Wales. And if you are in Northern Ireland, contact the Police Ombudsman.

How to Complain About the Courts

If you feel that the court handling your case hasn’t done so professionally, and you haven’t received proper justice in your case, you can make a complaint directly with the court by contacting a member of the court staff either in person or via phone. You may want to make your complain more formal and in writing. If this is the case you need to complete form EX343A. You can download the form from the HMCS website. You should receive a reply about your complaint within 5 working days. When you make your complaint ensure that:

  • You describe all the facts relating to your complaint in as much detail as possible
  • Clearly explain why you think the court made a mistake with your case
  • What loss (if any) you have suffered as a consequence of the mistake or conduct of the court

If you are making a complaint about a specific member of court staff, and feel you have made a loss, you may be able to claim compensation. This will depend on the nature of your complaint.

Any complaint you make will be investigated and a decision made about any action to be taken. If you disagree with the outcome of your complaint, you can ask the Area Director to further consider your complaint. And if you are still not satisfied with the Area Director’s decision about your complaint, you can contact the Customer Service Unit by telephone on: 0845 4568770 or 020 7189 2000. Disability Helpline/Textphone: Freephone 0800 358 3506.

If after going through this procedure you still believe your complaint hasn’t been dealt with properly, you can contact the The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. You can’t contact this service directly, but your MP can help you make contact with them.

How to Complain About a Judge or Judicial Decision

After the court case you are involved with has finished and you feel that your case wasn’t dealt with properly under the law, or that the presiding judge didn’t perform their duties in accordance with the law, you can make an appeal. Appeals can be effective, but take legal advice before you proceed with your complaint. All appeals need to be made quickly and directly to the court where your case was heard.

Making complaints about specific judges will mean contacting the Office for Judicial Complaints. You can telephone them on: 20 3334 2555, or visit their website

Complaining about a magistrate will mean you have to contact the local Advisory Committee. The court where you case was heard can give you their contact details. If you are not happy with their decision, you can then take your complaint to the Office for Judicial Complaints.

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Hi Denise who wrote on here .Denise - 30-Apr-19 @ 1:33 PMI've read your story and mine is very similar. I would love to get in touch but I'm not sure how to? Please get in touch if possible. Thanks
Clio - 19-Jun-19 @ 6:03 PM
I would like some advice on how to go about complaining about a county court judge. We recently went to a repossession hearing due to the fact that our landlord is trying to get us out of the property. We had previously been served with two invalid section 21 notices. The judge didn't listen to me and told me that tenants have no rights. He wouldn't read the letter from my doctor stating how all these housing issusues were causing me a huge amount of stress and making me ill. I felt sure that we would be heard and justice would be done and instead he was biased dismissive and rude towards me playing with paperclips when I spoke. I have now discovered that as the section 21 notices were invalid that we can get the possession order set aside because it shouldn't have been made but the down side is that we have to pay £255 in order to get it put aside. I feel upset and let down.
Pat - 3-Jun-19 @ 2:07 PM
I have a problemwiththestaffmemberin courtin K.W.T at zelitsha court yesterdayi wanteda letterof authoritiesbut that guy was very rude and his servicesis verypoor .I was veryangrywhat he has done.He firstgiveas a form so when we came back with a form them them tellingus everytime one by one to fill the documentsso we had to run up and done and going to take it more fair.
Milo - 30-May-19 @ 8:54 AM
Does anyone know the process of making a asking for a judicial review?Starting from compsoing a letter of complaint, to filing the complaint at a court.I am mentally disabled on sickness benefit, and cannot afford or obtain pro bono legal help.
keith - 1-May-19 @ 2:44 PM
I have been in a controlling and coercive relationship for the last 30 years, as well as being psychologically and emotionally abused ("if you go for a walk you will be raped or murdered", not allowed to visit my mother more than once/year, have no friends, been forced to use my birthday money for things for the kids etc). At counselling, my ex said "this is so easy to fix - all she has to do is give in"Throughout the divorce process (2 years and still going on!) this is the approach he has taken, until I have run down the marital assets available in my name (obviously the majority are in his name).The legal system has allowed him to get away with not paying child maintenance for 2 years, lied on his form E about over £100,000, omitting £20,000 income at FDR, he is refusing to pay maintenance for our children whilst at university, knowing that I will go without food etc in order to support them. I have paid legal fees out of my interim maintenance, whilst he used marital assets.My barrister at FDR said I had 3 minutes to sign the agreement or it would cost me £50,000 to go to final hearing, so obviously I signed the Heads of Agreement (still waiting a pension report). In total, he has cheated me out of over £135,000! Apparently you can not raise "bad behaviour" in the divorce courts until final hearing, yet the costs to get that far are prohibitive. The system is so unjust as I, and many others no doubt, are just forced to give in as we can not afford to fight for what we are entitled to, and so people like my ex continue to exploit women and get away with it.Who do I complain to or how do I go about trying to change the system?
Denise - 30-Apr-19 @ 1:33 PM
There is no justice in the UK ,the judges do literally as they please ,as do the police ,our son was given 22yrs on a gbh with intent charge with no evidence ,the witness a local drug dealer,the judge had made up his mind over a cup of tea before any trial ,we believe and so did the whole gallery that the judge swayed the jury ,these trials should be televised and these judges have someone to answer to
Spanner - 30-Apr-19 @ 4:04 AM
I have identified a magistrates court signed off on a liability application outside of the magistrates court act 1980.The DJ was not satisfied to grant the liability order as the figures could not be proven nor relied upon and so placed the order in abeyance.I have recently had my appeal upheld and the magistrates court are now obstructing my filing a claim for compensation despite the company who brought the liability application nilling the original assessment. Meaning I was unfairly dragged through the courts for no reason, having paid my solicitor over 5 thousand pounds to date he does not specialise in compensation claims.I have been obstructed by the staff at the magistrates court repeatedly, I am now considering suing the magistrates court for this failure to deal with my case. subject to s.64 of the magistrates court act 1980 and the appeal tribunal court and enforcement act 2007.
chris - 17-Apr-19 @ 8:48 AM
CPS have looked at my special needs daughters evidence CCTV and have told the police they are not taking it to court after a year and 7 months they have had it for. I received a reply call back from police letting me know of this last week. I’ve had no written information, no guidelines no advice nothing of where to go if I want victim rights to review from the CPS. I’ve left voice msgs emails but no reply, please advise what I can do
Andie - 16-Apr-19 @ 5:12 PM
I believe a women judge from a certain religion of the same age as my sister has made a decision based on hatred for my relegion and for her own professional gain what can I do because if you look at the complaints procedure you can’t plain at all basically
Manny73 - 20-Aug-18 @ 4:42 PM
JamesKirkup - Your Question:
Hello. I have learning disability and autism. I live in a flat in wombwell Barnsley south Yorkshire. I.m in Leeds court in 2nd august for sentenceing. The magistrates at leads were nasty to me the way they spoke to me. Like I.m stupid. I give you permission to my files. My date of birth is 04/09/1986. And my socail worker is Steve at wombwell. Don't. Know his number. I want to make a complaint. I need your help.

Our Response:
Unfortunately, we cannot help you make the complaint. However, we can guide you in the right direction regarding who to complain to, please see link here .
CourtroomAdvice - 2-Jul-18 @ 12:35 PM
Hello. I have learning disability and autism. I live in a flat in wombwell Barnsley south Yorkshire. I.m in Leeds court in 2nd august for sentenceing. The magistrates at leads were nasty to me the way they spoke to me. Like I.m stupid. I give you permission to my files. My date of birth is 04/09/1986. And my socail worker is Steve at wombwell. Don't. Know his number. I want to make a complaint. I need your help.
JamesKirkup - 30-Jun-18 @ 11:36 AM
I need justice victims for me and my children because we are not getting heard brushed under and the victims becoming the victims of the unjustices law and criminals walks free because there paying money to courts and solictors and barristers policed are covering up the criminal because of the cuts and give unjust to victims who suffers and are claiming legal aid on benfit dont get justices. Murders beaters and abuser gets away with it im a orphan was married to a worse mightmare i nvr through i would get in too. I have 3 beatiful kids and we where victim needed our voice to be heard and stop the criminal get away with the abuse.
Victim of unjustice - 16-Feb-18 @ 7:53 PM
I need justice victims for me and my children because we are not getting heard brushed under and the victims becoming the victims of the unjustices law and criminals walks free because there paying money to courts and solictors and barristers policed are covering up the criminal because of the cuts and give unjust to victims who suffers and are claiming legal aid on benfit dont get justices. Murders beaters and abuser gets away with it im a orphan was married to a worse mightmare i nvr through i would get in too. have 3kids and a victim needed my voice to be heard and stop the criminal get away with the abuse.
Victim of unjustice - 16-Feb-18 @ 7:49 PM
Hi My partner has just been found guilty to conspiracy to class a drugs, there was never any drugs money, etc found in his possession, during the trial the judge allowed a juror who knew another defendants dad stay on the jury is this allowed ? Also evidence was used against my partner when someone else was given a caution at another address that was warrented. Is this allowed, when it came to sentencing the judge gave him an extra 2 years as he said that in 2011 he was charged with supplying class c, he has never been convicted of this charge ! I feel there was a misjustise during this trial, is there anyone out there who could possibly enlighten me on the law regarding this. Thank you in advance.
Rosie - 29-Jan-18 @ 12:08 PM
My husband received a NIP for a vehicle as he is the registered keeper but does not and did not drive the vehicle on the date of the incident. He wrote and told them he was not the driver of the vehicle and requested photographic evidence. There is no way he can identify who was driving the vehicle so passed the letter over to his wife who is responsible for the vehicle and is the main driver. He then receives a letter to inform him he has been charged with traffic offences. He wrote and informed them his wife was responsible for the vehicle and she has written to them. He never got a response until he received a letter from Southern Derbyshire Court confirming hearing date had been adjourned on the 23.8.17 which he had no idea about and did not receive any correspondence regarding this hearing only the letter to confirm it had been adjourned for the 1/11/17. All the information was given to CPS and he could not attend the hearing asked for an alternative court hearing near home. Last letter received from CPS was to contact them by secure CJSM email which he did not know what it was and there is no information on the letter how to do this. He searched google and got to the website but couldn't log on. So any additional information could not be sent in time of the hearing. The hearing on the 1/11/17 he has been fined with failing to give information to identify the driver £660 plus £66 victim surcharge and costs £150 with no explanation as to why and what information was presented to the judge. Is there anything he can do?
justice123 - 11-Nov-17 @ 5:04 PM
My husband received a NIP for a vehicle as he is the registered keeper but does not and did not drive the vehicle on the date of the incident. He wrote and told them he was not the driver of the vehicle and requested photographic evidence. There is no way he can identify who was driving the vehicle so passed the letter over to his wife who is responsible for the vehicle and is the main driver. He then receives a letter to inform him he has been charged with traffic offences. He wrote and informed them his wife was responsible for the vehicle and she has written to them. He never got a response until he received a letter from Southern Derbyshire Court confirming hearing date had been adjourned on the 23.8.17 which he had no idea about and did not receive any correspondence regarding this hearing only the letter to confirm it had been adjourned for the 1/11/17. All the information was given to CPS and he could not attend the hearing asked for an alternative court hearing near home. Last letter received from CPS was to contact them by secure CJSM email which he did not know what it was and there is no information on the letter how to do this. He searched google and got to the website but couldn't log on. So any additional information could not be sent in time of the hearing. The hearing on the 1/11/17 he has been fined with failing to give information to identify the driver £660 plus £66 victim surcharge and costs £150 with no explanation as to why and what information was presented to the judge. Is there anything he can do?
justice123 - 11-Nov-17 @ 2:18 PM
My son is getting unfairley treat by justice sytem got no couitions remamded him cayse he got depression keeping him in now judge at durham asked for medical record proue not threat to public and himseilf still kept him in how can you go agaist medical records
Ray - 18-Oct-17 @ 8:52 PM
The defendant was found not guilty, there was only one witness (1) that gave evidence and he lied, the witness(1) who is the defendants friend has loaned the defendant money and the defendant could only pay the witness (1) back if he was found not guilty. Is this not classed as conflict of interest? I feel the solicitor didn't do her job right. no witnessses were called on the victims behalf, 2 people were due to give evidence up until the day before and then were dropped without an explanation. Is there any organisation I can contact to help the victim? as the defendant got away because of what the witness(1) said. 3 witnesses can testify that his friend lied, I have two witnesses that can verify that his friend (witness 1) said the defendant owes him money. The defendant was charged with attempted rape, he was a manager were the victim works, (defendant was instructed by higher management to hand in his notice at the time of arrest)witness (1) whom also works now is making the victimwork life very difficult by spreading lies and trying to embarrass the victim. I also work at this company and I need to help my friend, I feel the company should stop witness (1) from making the victims life difficult. The defendant also broke his bail by contacting the victim, there was proof of this of social media message and he got away with that too as it didn't class as being intimidation. I feel a major injustice has been made.
Kam - 12-Oct-17 @ 3:00 AM
When police ignore what youre saying and fail to investigate fully, lose your CD with critical information and judges fail to see whats missing - what can you do? Even my solicitor did not raise these aspects in court ... he himself failed my representation giving me no other options saying choose guilty or not guilty. I only found out later that I could have requested more time to examine what I was shown just before I went in to court by him.
Suffering - 23-Aug-17 @ 8:00 PM
@Andyl it's extremely frustrating because I think it was innocently done because other people had gone down to the flat who were also staying there and being drunk they picked up everyone's belongings and took it down thinking it was mine. Everyone was so drunk it's just horrific knowing I'm now stuck with a criminal record for the rest of my life ?? I just wasn't sure how the criminal law worked I thought they had to have 100% evidence showing a person of guilt. Not say to me sorry but we have to assume you stole it because you're seen with it first. God help the day I walk down the same street someone is murdered on because if that's how the law is looks like I'd be blamed for that too. They even accused me of stealing a secret Santa aftershave set, what on earth am I going to do with that being a female and I'm not even seen on cctv with that.
Aj - 31-Jul-17 @ 7:04 PM
@Aj - It seems it was just one of those situations where the finger might point at you. It's unlikely it can go any further as the court of appeal has decided. It's a case of real bad luck if you didn't do it. If you were really drunk and you can't recall anything and the handbag was found in your flat after you were seen on CCTV picking up the handbag, it is pretty damning.
AndyI - 31-Jul-17 @ 2:24 PM
I was accused of stealing at a staff Christmas party last year Dec 2016. I have no recollection of that night but there was cctv of me picking up a handbag and then asking a group of people if it was someone's as I'm seen pointing to it. I then walk off but a minute later I'm seen without it and nothing on me. I had a short dress on with no pockets. We were all staying in the hotel that night as it was closed to the public. The items were then found downstairs in the flat I was sharing with two other people. I had no key to get in to that flat and I wouldn't have had the time to get in the lift and go downstairs with this stuff as I'm seen a minute later after seeing me with the bag to then having nothing. Also aftershave and cigarettes had been taken from someone else and found in the flat downstairs I'm not seen with any of these items yet I've been blamed for absolutely everything in magistrates. I decided to appeal due to the lack of evidence they had against me, but I lost my appeal Friday in crown court. They stayed they felt really sorry for me and my situation and can see I'm an honest individual who was highly upset by this incident but could not over turn my appeal because they have to assume I took all that stuff because I was first seen with the handbag. I feel like I've been made a scapegoat because I was too drunk to remember. I've now lost my security license which I've worked so hard with over the last 4 years and having a criminal record for theft has destroyed me mentally, I just don't know what to do. I'm 31I've never stolen anything in my life. Whoever asked me to get that bag for them has clearly set me up. Am I able to do anything about this or do I just have to live with it? The police even stated I had nothing on me after I was arrested and taken in to custody. Two Romanian girls accused me of stealing mobile phones out of their bag and £40. That night was a free bar so how can they do me for stealing £40 when I had nothing on me what so ever? I'm baffled I thought the law had to prove undoubtedly of someone's guilty not just assume it must have been me because I was first seen with one bag.
Aj - 30-Jul-17 @ 5:27 PM
My partner and I were witness to an incident involving my father and his girlfriend. They arrived back from a dinner party they went to together separately, my father had supposedly cheated on his girlfriend with another guest at said party and his girlfriend had hit him, cutting his face. They continued arguing at the house, with his girlfriend pushing him over. MY partner then decided to drive her to a taxi rank so she could go and stay at her parents. The police arrived whilst my girlfriend was driving and accused her of assisting an offender in her absence. They then took my statement and my fathers statement about the incident. My father asked for someone to sit with him during this and he was told he wasn't allowed anyone with him. My girlfriend arrived back halfway through the statement taking and was told to wait in the spare room. Her statement was never taken. This has now gone to court, however in the initial hearing the cps said that my father had stitches, and she assaulted him again at my house, which is fundamentally untrue, and since raising this issue with the police, along with the fact my partners statement was never taken, both myself and my father have been categorised as "Hostile Witness". Since the Police/CPS have presented false evidence in court, (provable by medical records,) what is the suggested course of action? Pretty sure if I present false evidence in court I'd be arrested and charged with perverting the course of justice!!
sdl90 - 12-Feb-17 @ 3:01 PM
Today I attended a meeting with the CPS .to tell me that they will be standing by the decision not to charge my abuser. I trusted in a police officer when I was 14 to tell him about abuse at home. He abused me too and forced me to do oral on him. I cant believe that I don't get a court case because he says he don't know me and through their (Cps) experience they know I wont get anywhere in court.im so angry atm. It took me all my strength to disclose . Can you over rule cps .they said it was final. The decision would not be changed. Just brings me more self harming and hatred for system
Cal - 31-Jan-17 @ 9:48 PM
Hello This is complicated. The police said I was speed and sent original forms. The first one never got to me so I filled in the second one that turned up 7 weeks later. The problem is that we don't know who was driving as my wife and I shared the driving. So when I filled in the form I left the who was driving bit empty. However this is not the problem. I have a clinical hearing disability and I wear hearing aids. In the magistrates court I was put into the only court without a hearing loop and despite me continually saying in court I can't hear the magistrate said when I continually asked the police officer to repeat what was being said the magistrate said that I would get a chance to cross examine later but I pointed out that how can I cross examine something I have not hear. I then had a argument with the barrister as he was shouting at me which did not go down well. I heard nothing. The courts had 3 copies of my hearing disability letter and were told on 5 different occassions that I had a hearing disability. On the day of the magistrates hearing I was toild the magistrate refuses to move the court date. the clerk omitted all mention of my disability and focused just on the legal aspects of the case and ignored my hearing issues. On appeal (I was convicted) this time I had a barrister the crown court judge said the there was a possibility that there was a chance of an unfair trial but he said we should make an application to have the case squashed but it failed. In fact due to the court not taking on board my disability on any level it was totally and absolutely not mentioned at all. The judge said that the courts had made every effort for me to hear but refuse to expand as top how they achieved this. This is a total lie and has left me in court without hearing. Even in the appeal the hearing loop did not work. If you wear the head phone you can't hear a thing and if you wear hearing aids and the headphones you get feed back. The case is simple the police have not proved I was the driver and that me not filling who the driver was, was due to not knowing who the drive was I couldn't fill it in. I have emails from the magistrates court saying they will not discuss my hearing issues in court. This is a total stitch up my this particular court service and they have at every turn not allowed me to hear in court. The court is now saying I admitted to the offense in the original hearing where I could not hear what was being asked. My question given that there is a serious breach of the disabilities act 2010, can you sue the court for compensation and can you sue a judge under the discrimination act 2010 which he should be aware.
CiaranPatrick - 30-Jan-17 @ 5:07 PM
My partner was arrested for assault by beating after a third party contact reported he had hit me. This wasn't the case (I had just fallen out with the third party in question) I had actually had a fall a few days previously! When the police spoke to me at my address, they took no statement and no photographs of my injuries (I offered both of these and they refused them saying it would make no difference because it's a dv case). Now there's no history of dv in our relationship of any kind. This has been sent to trial, my partner is not allowed to the family home or to contact me. He is allowed to see our children but this is to be done with me contacting a third party to arrange it. I don't understand how this has gone to trial or how he even got charged when I have told them, the ambulance staff that assisted after the fall and the social services how my injuries occurred! Social services are in agreement that he poses no risk or threat to either me or the children! He can't afford legal fees until he's paid on 31st Jan! But the trial begins on 1st Feb! Can I get my own solicitor to help with a complaint????
Keeley - 16-Jan-17 @ 11:09 PM
Motherhen123 - Your Question:
Is it possible to make a complaint about a historic court case? When I was a child I went to court to give evidence against my abuser and he got let off. 20 years on I have now found out that he was a retired police officer, that the police officer handling the case new him personally. That the court was changed days before I was due to give evidence after my social worker had shown me around another court and showed me where I would be. plus my social worker was changed to and the day I went to court I was made sit in silence for hours in a room next to the court room while my abuser was let roam around free. The police even lost a statement from another child who reported him three weeks before me. Is it possible to have all this looked into and to make a complaint 20 years later ive spent years blame myself for him walking free, and now im adult I have found out that the police and courts where already siding with him because of his police background I never had a chance.

Our Response:
I would certainly seek some specialist legal advice regarding this.
CourtroomAdvice - 12-Dec-16 @ 12:02 PM
Is it possible to make a complaint about a historic court case?When i was a child i went to court to give evidence against my abuser and he got let off. 20 years on i have now found out that he was a retired police officer,that the police officer handling the case new him personally. That the court was changed days before i was due to give evidence after my social worker had shown me around another court and showed me where i would be. plus my social worker was changed to and the day i went to court i was made sit in silence for hours in a room next to the court room while my abuser was let roam around free. The police even lost a statement from another child who reported him three weeks before me. Is it possible to have all this looked into and to make a complaint 20 years later ive spent years blame myself for him walking free, and now im adult i have found out that the police and courts where already siding with him because of his police background i never had a chance.
Motherhen123 - 11-Dec-16 @ 5:28 PM
My husband had a trial in vegas i was a witness and we were told not to discuss case with anyone several witnesseswere talking to each other about case prior to testifying and all videotape they were right under court camera who do I complain to
Tara - 30-Nov-16 @ 4:34 PM
We live in Scotland. My daughter was attacked by about 2 girls in a pub but as my daughter only knew who one of the girls was it was just that one that went to court. She had hit my daughter on the face with a stileto heel chipping the jawbone and my daughter also had to get stitches and is marked for life. She was lucky as any lower her artery would have been severed. The girl plead not guilty. My daughter went up to court first time and sat all day they said they had ran out of time so had to go back. Next time a witness was sick so was cancelled. Third time she sat most of the day and procurator fiscal said there wasn't enough evidence to charge this girl so nobody had to go into courtroom and give evidence I think there is something suspicious the other person who was with this girl is a trainee solicitor and the girl who was up at the court comes from a very wealthy family who know all the right people in high positions. Does this usually happen when it has made its way to court. This girl had also assaulted another person and again got off with it
Dusty - 27-Nov-16 @ 12:56 AM
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