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Sussex Police is committed to providing a high standard of service to the community.

Surveys and monitoring tell us that the majority of people who come into contact with us are satisfied with the service they receive. Occasionally police officers and staff do receive complaints about their actions or conduct. Police officers and staff are required to work within the guidelines of a code of conduct set by the Home Office and breaches of this code are taken very seriously.

You can make a complaint if you are a member of the public who:

  • Has been a victim of misconduct by a person serving with the police. Misconduct could include a police officer or member of police staff being rude to you or using excessive force. It could also include unlawful arrest or an abuse of your rights.
  • Was present when the alleged misconduct took place, or close enough to see or hear the misconduct, and as a result suffered loss, damage, distress or inconvenience, or was put in danger or at risk.
  • Is a friend or relative of the victim of the alleged misconduct, distressed by the effects of the incident on the victim?
  • Has witnessed the alleged misconduct.
  • Is acting on behalf of any of the above. Please note that if you would like someone to make a complaint on your behalf, you must give them your consent in writing unless they are from a body such as a Citizens Advice Bureau.

If your complaint is against a police officer or member of police staff, please complete the form at the foot of this page.

For a general complaint about Sussex Police or other queries and concerns, contact Customer Relations here.

Don't forget, if you want to give us general feedback, you can do this via Your Voice Counts.

It should give details of when, where and what happened.

Include details of the officers involved, by description if necessary, and give details of any witnesses who may be able to assist with the investigation.

A detailed account will assist with determining the most appropriate person to deal with your complaint.

Certain complaints, of a more serious nature, attract a mandatory referral to the IOPC who are responsible for deciding the mode of investigation.



A local supervisor or a member of the Investigations Unit of the Professional Standards Department will deal with your complaint, discussing it with you to explain the various ways of resolving it.

More details about how police complaints are investigated can be found at the Independent Office for Police Conduct website.

The Professional Standards Department will consider recording a complaint from a member of the public in accordance with the Statutory Guidance issued by the IOPC.

Consideration will be given to whether it is possible to locally resolve your complaint. This is an effective method of speedily dealing with your concerns without resort to the recording of statements and gathering of evidence necessary for a formal investigation. Local Resolution may involve an undertaking to pursue a particular course of action, an apology in appropriate circumstances or an explanation of why events unfolded as they did.

Local resolution is a flexible process that can be adapted to the needs of the complainant. The complaint will be handled in the main at a local managerial level not within professional standards departments.




The Head of the Professional Standards Department is responsible for the assessment and determination of all complaints in the first instance. They are supported by a team of trained investigators which includes warranted officers and police staff.

The Head of the Professional Standards Department is responsible for all appeals to the force for complaints where the appeal authority is the Chief Constable (those where there is unlikely to be any misconduct proceedings even if upheld) They will also be responsible for the more serious cases which amount to gross misconduct.

Sussex Police will ensure that lessons learned from any complaint made are understood and appropriate action is taken, whether this is at an organisational or individual level.

At the end of an investigation where it is found that an officer or staff member has a case to answer for a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour, there are a range of options available to deal with the matter. This ranges from a gross misconduct hearing, which can result in dismissal, to management action administered by a local supervisor.

In appropriate cases the Crown Prosecution Service decides whether any criminal charges will be brought against the person subject to the complaint. 

There is a right of appeal to either the IOPC or the Professional Standards Department, depending on the severity of the allegation. This process will be explained to you when you are advised of the outcome.

Yes. You may be required to attend as a witness or you may be invited to attend as an observer.

Yes, making a complaint does not affect your right to take the police to court and sue for damages. You are advised to seek independent legal advice if you wish to take this course of action.


Who else can help?

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