Complaints about the police

If you have a complaint about the police in Northern Ireland, you can contact the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. They provide an independent, impartial police complaints system for people in Northern Ireland.

Who complaints can be made against

The Police Ombudsman investigates complaints about:

  • the Police Service of Northern Ireland
  • Belfast Harbour Police
  • Larne Harbour Police
  • Belfast International Airport Police
  • Ministry of Defence Police in Northern Ireland
  • certain UK Border Force staff

Types of complaints

The Police Ombudsman investigates complaints about how police officers and some police employees (such as custody and escort staff) do their jobs.  You can complain about:

  • police using excessive force
  • quality of police investigations
  • rude or offensive behaviour
  • other inappropriate behaviour

How to complain

You must make your complaint within one year of the incident you are concerned about. You can complain:

  • by telephone, 0300 123 2989
  • by email to complaints@policeombudsman.org
  • online
  • by writing to the Police Ombudsman
  • by appointment at the Police Ombudsman's office between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm from Monday to Friday

To make an appointment, contact:

In certain circumstances, the Police Ombudsman can decide to investigate a complaint about something that happened more than a year before it was reported. This happens when the Police Ombudsman believes the complaint is grave or exceptional.

Police Ombudsman

The Police Ombudsman investigates complaints about police conduct and makes recommendations on criminal, disciplinary and misconduct matters. They also:

  • investigate matters of public interest and all grave and exceptional matters referred to them
  • publish reports and makes policy recommendations aimed at improved policing within Northern Ireland
  • provide statistical reports to the Police Service of Northern Ireland. the Northern Ireland Policing Board and the Department of Justice

What the Police Ombudsman does when you complain

When you contact the Police Ombudsman office they will:

  • arrange to take details of your complaint
  • decide how your complaint will be dealt with
  • tell you the name of the person responsible for dealing with your complaint
  • give you as much information as they can during the complaints process

Police Ombudsman's decisions

When your complaint has been investigated, the Police Ombudsman may decide to:

  • recommend to the Director of Public Prosecutions (the DPP) that the police officer should be prosecuted
  • recommend that the Chief Constable should bring disciplinary proceedings against the officer involved - if the Police Ombudsman and the Chief Constable disagree about whether the police officer should be brought before a misconduct hearing, the Police Ombudsman can insist that the Chief Constable does so
  • recommend that disciplinary proceedings should be brought by the Policing Board if the officer you have complained about is an Assistant Chief Constable, a Deputy Chief Constable or the Chief Constable
  • recommend compensation (even if the Police Ombudsman recommends compensation, your solicitor will still tell you about any other legal rights you may have)
  • not uphold your complaint, for example, because there is not enough evidence to support it (you will be told the reasons for this decision)

Finding out the Police Ombudsman's decision

Once the investigation into your complaint is complete, you'll receive a letter explaining the Police Ombudsman's decision.

The Police Ombudsman’s decision is final. If there's new information that you could not reasonably have known when you complained, they might start a new investigation.

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.