Code of Conduct complaint form
Important – Please read the following guidance notes before completing this form. It is important that you give us the information we need to make a reasoned and informed decision on your complaint.
Although not essential, you may also wish to refer to the document entitled Procedure for the Assessment and Determination of Allegations of Breaches of the Members’ Code of Conduct.
Complaints can only be accepted if they relate to a member’s behaviour whilst they are acting, or giving the impression that they are acting, in their official capacity. Complaints which appear to be against a member acting in their private capacity will be rejected.
Complaints against a council as a whole are outside of these procedures and will be rejected.
Cornwall Council has no jurisdiction in respect of complaints about clerks to town parish or city councils and any such complaints will be rejected.
Code of Conduct Complaint Form Guidance Notes
1. The detail of your complaint
In order to help the Monitoring Officer make an initial assessment of your complaint please make sure you have:
- Included your contact details in case any clarification or explanation is required relating to your complaint
- Identify by name the councillor(s) you are making a complaint about and the name of the council of which the councillor is a member. Identified from the tick box list in the form the relevant areas of the Code you think might apply to your complaint
- Explained the circumstances and nature of the complaint in detail, including whether you think the councillor was acting in an official capacity and, if so, why you think that. If you are complaining about more than one councillor, you need to clearly set out which part of your complaint relates to which councillor. You need to give us as much information as possible to inform our decision on your complaint and you need to demonstrate by that information how each of the areas of the Code you have identified has been breached.
- Supplied links to or copies of any documentation relevant to your complaint.
- Supplied copies of postings if your complaint relates to comments made on a social media site, as Council policy in relation to use of the internet limits officers’ ability to access social media sites.
- Identified whether there are any witnesses or not, and if so, their names and contact details if you know them. It would be helpful if you could obtain the consent of anyone so identified to being a witness in support of your complaint.
- Indicated whether you have complained about this issue before and, if so, to whom and the outcome
- Completed the section relating to confidentiality or marked it ‘N/A’
2. Your details
We believe it is fair that councillors who are complained about have a right to know who has made a complaint about them and that they are provided with the details of the complaint so that they may respond to the complaint.
In normal circumstances when a complaint is received details of the complaint and the name of the complainant, but not the complainant’s address or other contact details, will be passed to the councillor against whom the complaint has been made (who we will refer to as the ‘subject member’.
If you do not want your identity to be disclosed to the subject member you may request confidentially in line with section 3, below.
If you have serious concerns about your identity or details of your complaint being released please complete the section of the form marked ‘Confidentiality’.
We are unlikely to withhold your identity or the details of your complaint unless we consider that you have demonstrated that it is appropriate to do so. Any request for confidentiality will be considered by the Council’s Monitoring Officer or his nominee.
Each request for confidentially will be considered on its own merits and in determining such a request the following will be considered:
- Whether you reasonably believe that you, or those connected with you, will be at risk of harm if your identity is disclosed;
- That you are reasonably concerned about the consequences to your employment, or those connected to you, if your identity is disclosed;
- That you suffer, or somebody closely connected to you suffers, from a medical condition and there is evidence of medical risks associated with your identity being disclosed or confirmation from an appropriate medical professional that that is the case;
- The public interest. In some cases the public interest in proceeding with the complaint may outweigh the complainant’s wish to have their identity withheld.
Requests for confidentiality will not automatically be granted. Your request will be considered alongside the substance of your complaint.
If your request is not granted we will usually allow you the option of withdrawing your complaint.
If confidentiality is granted the subject member will be advised of that fact and the reasons, but not so as to indirectly disclose the complainant’s identity.
In exceptional circumstances, where the matter complained about is of a serious nature as detailed in the Assessment, etc. Procedure referred to above, we may decide that it is in the public interest to take appropriate action on the complaint, if you have asked us not to.
4. Submitting your complaint
Ordinarily, you must submit your complaint in writing and this includes fax and electronic submissions. Details are at the foot of the complaint form. If you submit a complaint in a way that is not in accordance with our requirements it is unlikely to be processed.
If you have a disability that prevents you from or makes it difficult for you to submit your complaint in writing we will assist you in submitting your complaint. We can also assist if English is not your first language.
5. Important timescales and further information
Initial filtering of complaints, to advise whether the complaint will be rejected or proceed to formal assessment : Normally within 10 working days.
Assessment of your complaint : We will aim to deal with your complaint as quickly as possible and we will keep you advised of the timescales as the matter progresses.
Notification of our decision : Within 5 working days of the assessment of the complaint.
The steps in the process are explained in more detail in the Assessment, etc. Procedure referred to above, which also provides information on the procedure for assessing and reviewing complaints.
6. What decisions can be made on a complaint?
This is set out in more detail in the Assessment, etc. Procedure but the following decisions may be made during the assessment and determination of a complaint:
- That the complaint should not proceed beyond the initial filter stage
- No finding as to whether there has been a breach of the Code and take no further action
- No finding as to whether there has been a breach of the Code but that action other than an investigation is appropriate
- Finding of no breach of the Code
- Finding of a breach of the Code without an investigation and impose no sanction
- Finding of a breach of the Code without an investigation and impose a sanction
- Referral for investigation to determine whether there has been a breach of the Code and, if so, the seriousness of the breach
- A potential offence under the Localism Act 2011 may have been committed and an investigation, by the police where appropriate, ought to be conducted to determine whether the subject member should be prosecuted.
In some circumstances, whether a breach of the Code is found or not, a complaint may be referred for other action such as the provision of training to the subject member or even the whole of their Council
7. Notification of decisions
The decision will be sent to the subject member, the complainant and, if applicable, the Clerk to the Subject members Council, within 5 working days of the assessment of the complaint and the decision will be published on our website shortly after.
Complaints must always be submitted in writing. However, we can make reasonable adjustments to assist you if you have a disability that prevents you from making your complaint or makes it difficult for you to submit your complaint in writing. We can also help if English is not your first language.
If you need any support in completing this form, please let us know as soon as possible.
The information you provide on this form will be held by Cornwall Council and used by us to process your complaint. In accordance with Cornwall Council’s Record Retention Policy, the information you provide on this form will be held for a minimum of 3 years, after which period it will be reviewed for further retention or destroyed in a secure manner.
All personal information held by Cornwall Council is held safely in a secure environment. We will share this information with other departments of Cornwall Council, appropriate City, Town and Parish Councils, along with their elected representatives to enable completion of statutory duties. Information will not be used for any other purpose by Cornwall Council and will not be passed onto any other third party without your permission save in the limited circumstances available in the Code of Conduct local referral process.
The information you provide on this form will be held by Cornwall Council and used by us to assess, your complaint. We will share this information, but not your personal contact details, with the subject member and the independent person, who has been appointed by the standards committee and allocated to this complaint, in order that they can provide their views on the complaint. Your information will not be used for any other purpose by Cornwall Council and the independent person, and will not be passed on to any other third party without your permission. It should be noted that the subject member may share your information with a third party if they wish to seek further advice on how to respond to your complaint. In accordance with Cornwall Council’s Record Retention Policy, the information you provide on this form will be retained for five years, after which period it will be destroyed in a secure manner. All personal information held by Cornwall Council is held safely in a secure environment.