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Customer Complaints Procedure

We are committed to providing an exemplary service. If you are not satisfied with an aspect of our service, we encourage you to let us know and we will do our best to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

What you can expect from us

At each stage of the process, we will acknowledge receipt of your concerns within five working days giving you a named contact point and telephone number for your complaint. We will then strive to provide you with a full response to your complaint within 20 working days.

1. Why complain?

We aim to deliver high quality and efficient services. We are always trying to do better, and we welcome your feedback. It is important because it helps us build on strengths and learn from mistakes. If things go wrong, we want to rectify the problem as fairly and quickly as possible. When things go well, we appreciate compliments and suggestions.

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction by any one or more members of the public about the Southern IFCA’s action or lack of action or about the standard of service. This applies whether the action was taken or the service was provided by the Southern IFCA itself or a person or body acting on behalf of the Southern IFCA.

Our complaints process is not a review or an appeal procedure for you to challenge the merits of decisions. Neither is it a way to ask for a review of a decision which goes against you.

2. How do I request an explanation?

If you wish simply to request an explanation for an action that the Southern IFCA has taken, or to comment on the service you have received from the Southern IFCA, you can contact the Southern IFCA in the ways set out below.

You can call the Southern IFCA on 01202 721373 or alternatively write to:

Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority
Unit 3 Holes Bay Park
Sterte Avenue West, Poole
BH15 2AA


3. How do I make a complaint?

The Southern IFCA operates a three stage complaints process to ensure complaints are dealt with impartially, objectively and professionally.

We would normally expect you to raise your complaint within one calendar month of the event or matter that has caused you concern, although in exceptional circumstances we will consider your complaint after that time has elapsed. Please note that we will not normally consider complaints that are raised more than six months after the date of the relevant event or matter.

Stage One: Informal complaints

In most cases we will do our upmost to resolve your complaint immediately. So please make our staff aware of your complaint as soon as possible and we will do all we can to resolve it.

Stage Two

If we have not resolved your complaint at stage one, you can contact the Chief Officer by post or email. Please explain the full details of your complaint, and the Chief Officer will carry out a thorough investigation into your concerns.

Should it be necessary, the Chief Officer or a colleague will arrange to meet with you to resolve the complaint.

Stage Three

If you have gone through the formal complaints process described in Stage Two above and you are not satisfied with the results of the investigation, you may ask for your complaint to be forwarded to the Chairman of the Southern IFCA for review, or, if the complaint involves the Chairman, to another person authorised by the Chief Executive Officer. We would normally expect you to request the referral of your complaint to Stage Three within 40 days of the Southern IFCAs Stage Two response, although in exceptional circumstances we may agree to investigate after that time has elapsed. Subject to paragraph 3.10 below, you will receive a response within 20 working days of your request.

In some cases, relations between the Southern IFCA and a complainant may deteriorate whilst a complaint is under investigation, or it may become apparent that there is another reason why there is little prospect of achieving a satisfactory outcome through the investigation. In such circumstances there is often little purpose in following through all stages of the complaints process and the Southern IFCA may decide not to offer a Stage Three review in its investigation. When this occurs the Southern IFCA will inform the complainant, who may then choose to refer this matter to the Ombudsman. If the complainant so requests, the Southern IFCA will confirm to the Ombudsman that it does not intend to take the investigation through Stage Three of its complaints process and will indicate its willingness that the Ombudsman open an investigation at this stage. For the avoidance of doubt, the decision not to proceed with Stage Three of the Southern IFCA’s complaints process may be taken even when the Southern IFCA has not, or has not yet, invoked the provisions on unacceptable, unreasonably persistent or vexatious complaints set out in paragraph 9 below.

4. Who will see my complaint?

All comments and complaints are treated in confidence and will not disadvantage you in any future dealings you might have with the Southern IFCA.

However, it may not always be possible to keep your details confidential, such as where allegations are made concerning the conduct of third parties, or where particular legislation applies to your complaint.

5. What happens next?

The Southern IFCA wants to improve its service and resolve problems as quickly as possible.

If your complaint is upheld:

you will receive a written apology; and

an explanation of any redress and any steps taken to prevent a similar problem recurring.

If your complaint is not upheld, the officer who conducted the investigation will write to you explaining the reasoning behind the decision. This step concludes our complaints process.

6. What if I’m still not satisfied?

Most of the time, we hope your complaint will be resolved to your satisfaction. If that is not the case, you may refer your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman investigates complaints of maladministration. Maladministration means that we have done something we should not have done, done something the wrong way or failed to do something we should have done. The Ombudsman will not investigate the Southern IFCA’s actions solely because you do not agree with a decision the Southern IFCA has made.

You may contact the Ombudsman at any time, but the Ombudsman will not normally consider your complaint until it has been though the Southern IFCA’s complaints process first.

You can contact the Ombudsman at:

Local Government Ombudsman
PO Box 4771
Coventry, CV4 0EH

Tel: 0300 061 0614   Fax: 024 7682 0001


7. What if I have an objection to a decision made by the Southern IFCA?

Objections to the merits of decisions that the Southern IFCA has made will not be dealt with under the complaints process described in this document. However, if you feel that the procedure or process followed in reaching a decision was incorrect or unfair, you may wish to lodge a complaint on this basis.

8. What if I wish to complain about a Member’s conduct?

If you wish to make a complaint that a Member has failed to comply with the Code of Conduct or Terms of Appointment, you must submit your complaint in writing to:

Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority
Unit 3 Holes Bay Park,
Sterte Avenue West, Poole.
BH15 2AA

or by email to:

Complaint that a Member has breached one of the Southern IFCA’s Local Protocols

Complaints that a member has not acted in accordance with a local protocol must be in writing and may be directed to a Member or an officer of the Southern IFCA. The recipient will immediately refer the complaint to the Southern IFCA's Chief Executive Officer who is responsible for monitoring the conduct of Members of the Southern IFCA. An officer of the Authority will contact you in due course.

Where issues relating to the conduct of an Appointee cannot be resolved by the Committee itself, the matter will be referred to the MMO who will decide in liaison with the IFCA Chairman (or the MMO representative, if it relates to the IFCA Chairman), if the Appointee concerned should be asked to stand down.

The Southern IFCA's process for unacceptable, unreasonably persistent, or vexatious complaints can be viewed here.

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