Complaining to an external person or organisation

Advice and Guidance

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  • Employees

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If you think your human rights have been breached and you cannot resolve the problem with the public authority concerned, you could consider complaining to an external person or organisation.

You can take your complaint to your local councillor, your MP or MSP. If the issue is related to the rights of children, you could contact one of the Children’s Commissioners:

Depending on the nature of your problem, there may be an organisation (often called a commission or ombudsman) whose job it is to investigate complaints about a particular type of service provider. See the list of organisations below.

You could even consider taking your story to the local, regional or national media, or engaging in some other form of campaigning. But think very carefully before you do this and consult with friends and family first.

Organisations that investigate complaints

None of the organisations below will charge you to investigate your case. They don’t have to investigate all the complaints they receive, however. They will only do so if they believe you have a valid complaint and it fits within their area of responsibility.

Local government ombudsmen

There are separate local government ombudsmen for England, Wales and Scotland.

They investigate complaints against local authorities and certain other organisations. They cover complaints about most local authority matters, including social services and education. You must give the authority concerned an opportunity to deal with your complaint before the ombudsmen will consider it.

Local Government Ombudsman in England
Telephone: 0300 061 0614

Public Service Ombudsman for Wales
Telephone: 0300 790 0203

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
Telephone: 0800 377 7330

Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The Care Quality Commission is the health and social care regulator for England. They make sure that every health and social care service meets government standards for quality and safety.
Telephone: 03000 616161

Care Inspectorate

The Care Inspectorate regulates and inspects care services in Scotland to make sure that they meet the right standards. They also jointly inspect with other regulators to check how well different organisations in local areas work to support adults and children
Telephone: 0345 600 9527

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman investigates complaints about UK government departments, their agencies and some other public authorities in the UK (including the NHS in England). Information about how to make a complaint is on their website.

Complaints helpline: 0345 015 4033

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

As well as local authorities, the SPSO investigates complaints against the National Health Service, housing associations, colleges and universities, prisons, most water and sewerage providers, the Scottish Government and its agencies and departments and most Scottish authorities
Telephone: 0800 377 7330

Independent Police Complaints Commission (England and Wales)

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) oversees the police complaints system in England and Wales and sets the standards by which the police should handle complaints.

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Scotland)

The Commissioner reviews the handling of complaints against police forces, police authorities or policing agencies.
Telephone: 0808 178 5577

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)

The ICO promotes access to official information and protects personal information. It does this by promoting good practice, ruling on eligible complaints, providing information to individuals and organisations, and taking appropriate action when the law is broken.
Telephone: 0303 123 1113

Last updated: 19 Feb 2020

Further information

If you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service.

Phone: 0808 800 0082
Textphone: 0808 800 0084

You can email using the contact form on the EASS website.

Also available through the website are BSL interpretation, web chat services and a contact us form.


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closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays

Alternatively, you can visit our advice and guidance page.