Your Voice: Denbighshire County Council Concerns and Complaints Policy
Denbighshire County Council is committed to dealing effectively with any concerns or complaints you may have about our service. We aim to clarify any issues about which you are not sure. If possible, we'll put right any mistakes we may have made. We will provide any service you're entitled to which we have failed to deliver. If we got something wrong, we'll apologise and where possible we'll try to put things right. We also aim to learn from our mistakes and use the information we gain to improve our services.
When you express your concerns or complain to us, we will usually respond in the way we explain below. However, sometimes you may have a statutory right of appeal (e.g. against a refusal to grant you planning permission or a decision not to give your child a place in a particular school). So, rather than investigate your concern, we will explain to you how you can appeal. Sometimes, you might be concerned about matters that are not decided by us (for example issues for the Planning Inspectorate) and we will then advise you about how to make your concerns known. Also, this policy does not apply if the matter relates to a Freedom of Information or Data Protection issue. In this circumstance, you should contact email@example.com or telephone 01824 708004.
If you are approaching us for a service for the first time, (e.g. reporting a faulty street light or pothole, requesting an appointment etc.) then this policy doesn't apply. You should first give us a chance to respond to your request. If you make a request for a service and then are not happy with our response, you will be able to make your concern known through the process described herein. If we miss a bin collection we would normally look at this as a request for service but should this not be dealt with, or reoccur it would be a matter for complaint.
If possible, we believe it's best to deal with things straight away rather than try to sort them out later. If you have a concern, raise it with the person you're dealing with. He or she will try to resolve it for you there and then. If there are any lessons to learn from addressing your concern then the member of staff will draw them to our attention. If the member of staff can't help, they will explain why and you can then ask for a formal investigation.
You can express your concern in any of the ways below.
- You can inform us via our website at www.denbighshire.gov.uk
- Ask for a copy of our form from a person with whom you are already in contact. Tell them that you want us to deal with your concern formally.
- Call our central complaint contact point on 01824 706000 (0800 032 1099 for Social Services complaints) if you want to make a complaint over the phone.
- You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org (social services complaints)
- You can write a letter to us at the following address Your Voice, PO Box 62, Ruthin, LL15 9AZ.
We aim to have concern and complaint forms available at all of our service outlets and public areas and also at appropriate locations in the community (including our One Stop Shops, main offices and Libraries).
Copies of this policy and the complaint form are available in Welsh and as audio, large print etc.
- We will formally acknowledge your concern within 5 working days and let you know how we intend to deal with it.
- We will ask you to tell us how you would like us to communicate with you and establish whether you have any particular requirements, for example, if you have a disability.
- We will deal with your concern in an open and honest way.
- We will make sure that your dealings with us in the future do not suffer just because you have expressed a concern or made a complaint.
Normally, we will only be able to look at your concerns if you tell us about them within 6 months. This is because it's better to look into your concerns while the issues are still fresh in everyone's mind.
We may exceptionally be able to look at concerns which are brought to our attention later than this. However, you will have to give us strong reasons why you have not been able to bring it to our attention earlier and we will need to have sufficient information about the issue to allow us to consider it properly. (In any event, regardless of the circumstances, we will not consider any concerns about matters that took place more than three years ago.)
If you're expressing a concern on behalf of somebody else, we'll need their agreement to you acting on their behalf.
If your complaint covers more than one body (for example the local health board BCUHB) we will usually work with them to decide who should take a lead in dealing with your concerns. If your complaint is about a GP, you can ask the Health Board to look into it for you. You will then be given the name of the person responsible for communicating with you while we consider your complaint.
If the complaint is about a body working on our behalf (such as a care home or building/highway contractor) we would normally ask that you contact them to deal with your complaint. However, if you subsequently want to express your concern or complaint formally (escalate to Stage 2), we will look into this and respond to you.
We will tell you who we have asked to look into your concern or complaint. If your concern is straightforward, we'll usually ask somebody from the service to look into it and get back to you. If it is more serious, we may use someone from elsewhere or we may appoint an independent investigator.
We will set out to you our understanding of your concerns and ask you to confirm that we've got it right. We'll also ask you to tell us what outcome you're hoping for. The person looking at your complaint will usually need to see the files we hold relevant to your complaint. If you don't want this to happen, it's important that you tell us.
If there is a simple solution to your problem, we may ask you if you're happy to accept this. For example, where you asked for a service and we see straight away that you should have had it, we will offer to provide the service rather than investigate and produce a report.
We will aim to resolve concerns as quickly as possible and expect to deal with the vast majority within 10 working days and we call this Stage 1 of our Complaints Procedure. If your complaint is more complex, we will:
- let you know within this time why we think it may take longer to investigate
- tell you how long we expect it to take
- let you know where we have reached with the investigation, and
- give you regular updates, including telling you whether any developments might change our original estimate.
The person who is investigating your concerns will aim first to establish the facts. The extent of this investigation will depend on how complex and how serious the issues you have raised are. In complex cases, we will draw up an investigation plan.
In some instances, we may ask to meet you to discuss your concerns. Occasionally, we might suggest mediation or another method to try to resolve disputes.
We'll look at relevant evidence. This could include files, notes of conversations, letters, e-mails or whatever may be relevant to your particular concern. If necessary, we'll talk to the staff or others involved and look at our policies and any legal entitlement and guidance.
If we formally investigate your complaint at Stage 2 of our procedures, we will let you know what we have found in keeping with your preferred form of communication. This could be by letter or e-mail, for example. If necessary, we will produce a longer report. We'll explain how and why we came to our conclusions. These investigations can take up to 20 days.
If we find that we got it wrong, we'll tell you what and why it happened. We'll show how the mistake affected you.
If we find there is a fault in our systems or the way we do things, we'll tell you what it is and how we plan to change things to stop it happening again.
If we got it wrong, we will always apologise.
If we didn't provide a service you should have had, we'll aim to provide it now if that's possible. If we didn't do something well, we'll aim to put it right. If you have lost out as a result of a mistake on our part we'll try to put you back in the position you would have been in if we'd got it right.
If you had to pay for a service yourself, when you should have had one from us, or were entitled to funding you did not receive we might look to replace what you have lost.
If we do not succeed in resolving your complaint, you may complain to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. The Ombudsman is independent of all government bodies and can look into your complaint if you believe that you personally, or the person on whose behalf you are complaining:
- have been treated unfairly or received a bad service through some failure on the part of the body providing it
- have been disadvantaged personally by a service failure or have been treated unfairly.
The Ombudsman expects you to bring your concerns to our attention first and to give us a chance to put things right. You can contact the Ombudsman by:
There are also other organisations that consider complaints. For example, the Welsh Language Board about services in Welsh. We can advise you about such organisations.
We take your concerns and complaints seriously and try to learn from any mistakes we've made.
Our Senior Management considers a summary of all complaints quarterly as well as details of any serious complaints. The Council's Scrutiny Committee also considers our response to complaints on a quarterly basis.
Where there is a need for change, we will develop an action plan setting out what we will do, who will do it and when we plan to do it by. We will let you know when changes we've promised have been made.
Our staff will aim to help you make your concerns known to us. If you need extra assistance, we will try to put you in touch with someone who can help. For example you may wish to contact Age UK (external website) or Shelter (external website) who may be able to assist you.
You can also use this concerns and complaints policy if you are someone under the age of 18. If you need help, you can speak to someone on the Meic Helpline (phone 08088023456, www.meiccymru.org (external website)) or contact the Children's Commissioner for Wales. Contact details are:
South Wales Office:
North Wales Office:
In times of trouble or distress, some people may act out of character. There may have been upsetting or distressing circumstances leading up to a concern or a complaint. We do not view behaviour as unacceptable just because someone is forceful or determined.
We believe that all complainants have the right to be heard, understood and respected. However, we also consider that our staff have the same rights. We, therefore, expect you to be polite and courteous in your dealings with us. We will not tolerate aggressive or abusive behaviour, unreasonable demands or unreasonable persistence. We have a separate policy to manage situations where we find that someone's actions are unacceptable.