Complain, compliment or comment about our services

Coronavirus – impact on complaints service
There may be interruptions to our service and delays in responses to complaints and letters, as we balance delivering critical services and keeping people safe.

The quickest way to complain, give a compliment or comment about a county council service is online.

Schools handle their own complaintsFind your school's contact details.

For most services:

We'll acknowledge your complaint or comment within 3 working days.

We aim to respond within 4 weeks (20 working days).

If it's going to take us longer to look into your complaint, we'll let you know.


Adults and children's social care

Complaints about adult care services and children's services have different timescales. Before you complain, discuss your concerns with the service you're dealing with.  This might be the quickest way to get things fixed.

Adult social care complaints

If an adult is in immediate danger, report your adult care concern.

Once you've made your complaint, here's what normally happens:

Stage 1 –
investigation and response from the service manager
We'll acknowledge your complaint within 3 working days.

We'll contact you within 1 week (5 working days) to talk about:

  • what you want to happen
  • what we'll do to try and put things right
  • timescales for our response to you

We call this your "complaint plan”.

Adult care services complaints usually take between 2 and 5 weeks (between 10 and 25 working days).

We will write to you to let you know the result of the investigation.

If your complaint involves the NHS, we normally investigate your concerns jointly with them.  We'll try to send you one joint reply.

Stage 2 – senior manager investigation
If you're not happy with the service manager's response, you can ask for a senior manager to look at your complaint.  They will look to see if anything further can be done.

We'll agree the senior manager response timescales with you.

If you're still not happy, you can ask the Local Government Ombudsman to look at your complaint.

Complaining for someone else
If you're complaining on behalf of someone else, you need to give us their written consent.

If you can't get consent, we'll make sure the person is safe and well, but your concern will not be treated as a complaint.

Contact the Adult Care Services Complaints Team

Complaints Team (Adult Care Services)
Customer Service Team
County Hall
SG13 8DF


Telephone: 01992 556685
Textphone: 0300 123 4041


Children's social care complaints

If a child is in immediate danger, report your child protection concerns.

Once you've made your complaint, here's what normally happens:

Stage 1 - resolution and response by an operational manager

Wherever possible you will get a response from a manager within 2 weeks (10 working days) or a maximum of 4 weeks (20 working days).

Senior Management Review (SMR)

A senior management review involves a re-evaluation of the complaint and response at Stage 1 of the complaints procedure.

A senior manager will be appointed to conduct the review. We'll inform you of the name of the manager and the expected completion date. As part of the review, the senior manager may contact you or offer to meet with you. The outcome of the review will see you provided with a fresh complaint response.

This process takes up to 4 weeks (20 working days).

Stage 2 – investigation and report by an Investigating Officer

If you're not happy with the response at Stage 1, we may arrange for a detailed investigation where an Investigating Officer will look at your complaint.

The Investigating Officer will not work for the service you are complaining about.

For children’s social care complaints, an Independent Person will also work with the Investigating Officer.

A senior manager from the service will look at the results of the investigation and decide what should happen next.

We'll tell you the result of the investigation as soon as possible, and within 13 weeks (65 working days).

Stage 3 – a panel review (children's social care complaints only)

If you're still not happy after the Stage 2 investigation, we'll look at whether it would be right to move on to Stage 3.  Complaints don't always go on to Stage 3.

Stage 3 is where a panel of people look at your complaint and the investigation so far.  The panel usually meets within 30 working days and is made up of:

  • the person complaining – and someone to support you, if you want
  • Investigating Officer and Independent Person
  • Complaints manager
  • The senior manager who looked at the Stage 2 investigation
  • a member of staff from the service being complained about
  • 2 panel members (usually an Investigating Officer or Independent Person who have not been involved with your case).

The Panel then recommends to the Director of Children’s Services what should happen next.

If you're still not happy, you can ask the Local Government Ombudsman to look at your complaint.

Who can complain?
The child or young person can complain themselves.

Or their parent or carer can complain for them.  But if we think the child or young person is capable of making their own complaint, we will ask them to complain themselves.

Extended family members (such as grandparents, aunts or uncles) can't complain unless they have parental responsibility.

Contact the Complaints Team

Complaints Team (Children's Services)
Customer Service Team
County Hall
SG13 8DF


Telephone: 01992 588542
Textphone: 0300 123 4041


School complaints

Schools handle their own complaintsFind your school's contact details.

Discuss your concerns with the school first.  This might be the quickest way to get things fixed. If not, the complaints procedure is:

Stage 1 – complain to the Headteacher
The Headteacher should investigate and aim to reply within 10 school days.

Stage 2 – complain to the Chair of Governors
The Chair of Governors will arrange for a further investigation, often by a Panel of Governors who have not been involved with your complaint.

Stage 3 – further steps
If you're still not happy after Stage 2, there are a few different routes to take, depending on what your complaint is about:

  • Special Educational Needs (SEN) – if your complaint is about SEN services and you've gone through the school complaints process, you can complain to the council.

  • Bullying or the National Curriculum – you can complain to the Department for Education.

  • Denominational religious education or collective worship – you can complain to the relevant authority:

For Roman Catholic schools:
The Director of the Education Service
Diocese of Westminster
Vaughan House
46 Francis Street
London, SW1P 1QN.

Telephone: 020 7798 9005


For Church of England schools:
The Diocesan Director of Education
Diocesan Office
Holywell Lodge, 41 Holywell Hill,
St Albans, AL1 1HE.

Telephone: 01727 818710

Have your say

You can complain about a county councillor.

You can also contact us to discuss the following issues, but we don't treat these as formal complaints:

Get someone to help you complain

If your complaint is about adult social services or children's services, you can get help from someone. This person is sometimes called an 'advocate'.

Find an advocate

Children and young people can also get help to complain from the National Youth Advocacy Service.


Complaints managers

Children's services
Including children's social care, education and support for families, children and young people.

Kam Bhangal (Complaints Manager)

01992 588542

Adult social services
Including adult social care, blue badge, services for older people and disabled people, customer services.

 Kam Bhangal (Complaints Manager)

01992 556685


Highways and environment
Including household waste recycling centres and public & school transport.

Allison Short (Complaints Manager)

01992 555211


Rachel Bilton (Area Librarian : East)

0300 123 4040

Fire and Rescue and Trading Standards
Complaints about the standard of service provided by Fire and Rescue and Trading Standards.

 John Johnstone (Senior Business Support Manager)

01992 507537

To complain about a trader or product, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.

Births, deaths and marriages, citizenship, property, finance and HR.


Public Health
Including stop smoking, drug and alcohol, sexual health and weight management services.

Alison Hardy (Business Manager)

0300 123 4040