Vexatious, persistent and abusive behaviour policy

Examples of Unreasonable or Persistent Behaviour

Features of an unreasonable or persistent complainant include the following (the list is not exhaustive, nor does one single feature on its own necessarily imply that the person will be considered as being in this category).

An unreasonable or persistent complainant may:

  • Refuse to specify the grounds of a complaint despite numerous offers of assistance.
  • Refuse to co-operate with the council's standard procedures, such as the not co-operating with a complaints investigation process or refusing to appeal a council tax decision in the correct way.
  • Refuse to accept that issues are not within the remit of the complaints policy and procedure despite having been provided with information about the scope of the policy and procedure.
  • Refuse to accept that issues are not within the power of the council to change or influence (examples could be contact about a service delivered by another organisation or a decision made based on legislation or policy).
  • Insist on request or complaint being dealt with in ways which are incompatible with our procedures or with good practice (insisting, for instance, that there must not be any written record of the complaint).
  • Make what appear to be groundless complaints about the officers dealing with the complaints, and seeking to have the officer dismissed or replaced.
  • Make an unreasonable number of contacts with us, by any means in relation to a topic.
  • Make persistent and unreasonable demands or expectations of officers (an example of this could be a complainant who insists on immediate responses to numerous, frequent and/or complex letters, faxes, telephone calls or emails).
  • Raise subsidiary or new issues whilst a matter is being addressed that were not part of the contact at the start of the process. 
  • Introduce trivial or irrelevant new information whilst the matter is being investigated and expect this to be taken into account and commented on.
  • Change the substance or basis of a complaint without reasonable justification whilst the complaint is being addressed.
  • Electronically record meetings and conversations without the prior knowledge and consent of a council officer or any other person involved.
  • Adopt an excessively ‘scattergun’ approach, for instance, pursuing a matter not only with the council, but at the same time with a Member of Parliament, officers of the council(s), elected Councillors, any of the councils’ independent auditors, the police, solicitors, and the Local Government or Housing Ombudsman.
  • Refuse to accept the outcome of the process after its conclusion (including the relevant appeals of review processes), repeatedly arguing the point, complaining about the outcome, and/or denying that an adequate response has been given.
  • Make the same contact repeatedly, perhaps with minor differences, after the relevant procedures have been concluded, and insist that the minor differences make these 'new' matters which should be put through the full procedures again.
  • Persist in seeking an outcome which we have explained is unrealistic for legal or policy (or other valid) reasons.
  • Refuse to accept documented evidence as factual.
  • Complain about or challenge an issue based on a historic and irreversible decision or incident.
  • Combine some or all of these features.