6. Complaint Outcomes
The Assessment Sub-Committee will consider the Monitoring Officer’s report and, having regard to the ‘Local Assessment Criteria’ and the views of the Independent Person, it will take a decision on how a complaint progresses, on the basis of one or more of the following options:
No further action
Circumstances where ‘no further action’ may be appropriate:
- Behaviour not subject to the Code of Conduct.
- The complaint is the same or substantially the same as a complaint previously dealt with.
- The period since the alleged behaviour is so significant that it is considered to be inequitable, unreasonable or otherwise not in the public interest to pursue.
- The complaint discloses such a minor or technical breach of the Code of Conduct that it is not in the public interest to pursue.
- The complaint is or appears to be trivial, malicious, politically motivated, tit-for-tat or otherwise submitted with an improper motive and the complaint is not considered to disclose sufficiently serious potential breaches of the Code of Conduct to merit further consideration.
- The complaint is covered by the Council’s persistent and vexatious complaints policy and the complaint is not considered to disclose sufficiently serious potential breaches of the Code of Conduct to merit further consideration.
- The Member has provided a satisfactory remedy to the complaint.
- The complaint is about a person who is no longer a Member of a relevant council.
- There is evidence to suggest a potential breach of the Code of Conduct but the circumstances do not warrant further action.
The case is closed and a letter will be sent to both the Complainant and Subject Member with an explanation as to why. The Subject Member has the option to request that details of the complaint and outcome be published on the Council’s website. If not, details of the complaint remain confidential.
The Monitoring Officer will deal with actions arising from a decision of ‘no further action’.
Monitoring Officer Investigation
The Assessment Sub-Committee decide that the complaint should be investigated. The Monitoring Officer carries out an appropriate investigation into the complaint under Stage 3.
Where a decision of ‘other action’ may be appropriate:
- Less serious complaints where the Member wishes to put their actions right or where it would be beneficial to remind a Member(s) of the requirements of the Code of Conduct, matters that should be included on their Register of Interests or declarations of interest at meetings.
- A general breakdown in relationships at the Council where other action such as mediation might help.
- Complaints where the public interest in conducting an investigation does not justify the costs of such an investigation.
- Where there is behaviour indicating a lack of experience or the Member(s) may benefit from additional training or mentoring.
- Where the issue appears to be in the political arena and therefore appropriate for referral to a leader(s) of a political group to deal with.
- Where it appears that the town/parish council would be best placed to resolve the issue.
- Where there is the same alleged breach of the Code of Conduct by many of the Council’s Members, indicating a poor understanding of the Code of Conduct and / or authority’s protocols and procedures.
‘Other action’ can include outcomes such as an apology, commitment to undertake training or taking part in mediation or facilitated discussion or referral of the matter to a political group. Where appropriate it affords an opportunity for informal resolution between the Complainant and the Subject Member. It does not represent a finding of whether there has been a breach of the Code of Conduct.
Where ‘other action’ is decided a letter is sent to the Complainant and the Subject Member setting out the action taken with an explanation. The Subject Member has the option to request that details of the complaint and outcome be published on the Council’s website. If not, details of the complaint remain confidential.
The Monitoring Officer will deal with actions arising from a decision of ‘other action’. Where there is a clear expectation from the Assessment Sub-Committee of an informal resolution being achieved but the Monitoring Officer is unable to achieve this, the complaint will be referred back to the Assessment Sub-Committee for a further decision on the complaint under this stage. If there is no clear expectation of an outcome then the complaint will not be referred back.
Referral to Independent Investigation
This is likely to be considered where the complaint has raised an issue which is serious enough to warrant a detailed investigation, there is a conflict of interest or it is otherwise appropriate in the circumstances.
If a matter is referred to independent investigation, the complaint progresses to Stage 4.
Refer to the Police
Where the Complainant alleges criminal conduct (including failure to register or declare a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest, or voting at a council meeting where such an interest exists), this is a criminal offence as well as potentially being a breach of the Code of Conduct. It may be considered appropriate to refer the matter to the Police in isolation or for the matter to be considered as a breach of the Code of Conduct as well. If to be considered as a potential breach of the Code of Conduct, consideration will be given as to whether the matter is held pending any other investigations and their outcome being known.
Complainants may refer criminal allegations directly to the Police
The Monitoring Officer will deal with actions arising from a decision of ‘referral to the Police’.
You may find useful this councillor complaint flowchart for how a complaint is dealt with.