Vexatious and persistent behaviour policy

Imposing restrictions

In all cases where a complainant feels that the service they have received has fallen short of the high standards we set for our organisation, their complaint will be investigated in accordance with our published complaints policy and procedure.

If a complainant is persistently abusive when they contact our officers or persistently makes contact to discuss a complaint or make further complaints and this is proving time consuming and disruptive, the following steps will be taken to deal with this:

  • The service manager or above will contact the complainant either by phone, in writing or by email to explain to the complainant why their behaviour is causing concern and ask them to moderate their behaviour. The service manager or above will explain the actions that we may take if the behaviour does not change.
  • If the disruptive behaviour continues, a decision may be taken to apply restrictions to contact between the complainant and the council. This decision can only be made following completion of an incident report form and consultation between two senior officers at Head of Service Level or above and the decision recorded, with reason/s for the decision.
  • If it is decided to impose restrictions, a Head of Service or Corporate Director will write to the complainant (if appropriate) advising them of the restrictions to be imposed in relation to further contact with the complainant / council. Please refer to Section 10 below and the council’s Staff Protection Policy 2018 for further information.
  • Where a complainant continues to behave in a way which is unacceptable, a Head of Service in consultation with the appropriate Corporate Director may decide to refuse all contact with the complainant and stop any investigation into his or her complaint.
  • All restrictions will be recorded and monitored by the council’s Risk and Resilience Team.

Where the behaviour is so extreme or it threatens the immediate safety and welfare of officers, the council’s Staff Protection Policy enables us to consider other options, for example reporting the matter to the police or taking legal action. In such cases, we may not give the complainant prior warning of that action.

Any restriction that is imposed on the complainant’s contact with us will be appropriate and proportionate and the complainant will be advised of the period of time the restriction will be in place for. Restrictions will be tailored to deal with the individual circumstances of the complainant and may include:

  • Refusing to take further contact from the complainant by telephone except through a third party e.g. solicitor/councillor/friend acting on their behalf.
  • Refusing to accept emails from the complainant insisting instead that they correspond by letter.
  • Banning the complainant from accessing any of our offices except by appointment.
  • Requiring contact to take place with one named member of staff only.
  • Restricting telephone calls to specified days / times / duration.
  • Requiring any personal contact to take place in the presence of an appropriate witness.
  • Letting the complainant know that we will not reply to or acknowledge any further contact from them on the specific topic of that complaint (in this case, a designated member of staff should be identified who will read future correspondence).
  • Restricting or even denying social media users access to our sites.
  • Refusing to make home visits, or making these only by staff attending in pairs.