Complain about the Commission
Appendix 5: Complaints Policy
This document explains how the Gambling Commission (the Commission) will deal with complaints about the Commission and the service we have provided.
What is a complaint?
This policy defines complaints as an expression of dissatisfaction with a service delivered by the Commission. This policy covers complaints about:
- the standard of service you should expect from us
- the behaviour of our staff in delivering that service
- any action, or lack of action, by our staff or others engaged on Commission business.
This Complaints Policy is designed to respond to any failures in the service that we have given you. This does not cover, for example:
- comments about our policies or policy decisions
- matters that have already been fully investigated through this complaints process
- issues that are in court or have already been heard by a court or tribunal
- disagreement with decisions we have made where a statutory right of appeal exists
- complaints about gambling businesses. You can read more about how to complain about a gambling business here.
If you are not sure if the Commission is able to consider your complaint, we will be happy to advise you. Correspondence which does not fall within the remit of this policy will be passed on to our Contact Centre for a response within our published service standards.
How to make a complaint about the Gambling Commission
You can make a complaint verbally or in writing.
You can tell us you are unhappy with our service at any time and the details of your complaint will be noted and dealt with according to this policy.
You can make complaints via email or post to:
Victoria Square House
Birmingham B2 4BP
If you need help to put your complaint in writing or you would like to make your complaint verbally please speak to our Contact Centre.
Please give us as much information as you can to help us understand and to investigate your complaint. Please outline:
- what you think is wrong
- when it happened
- who you dealt with
- how you would like us to resolve the matter
- your preferred contact details for us to communicate with you – email, telephone or postal address.
When someone else complains on your behalf, we need written confirmation from you saying that you agree for them act for you.
How we will deal with your complaint
We use a two-stage formal complaints process. Following review, a complaint will be categorised as upheld, partly upheld or not upheld.
We will acknowledge your complaint within three working days of receiving it. We will then review all the information we have about your complaint. It may be necessary for the person dealing with your complaint to contact you for further details or to clarify points within your complaint.
Any Commission employee can review a complaint at Stage 1. This will be someone who has not had previous involvement with the issues of the complaint, and where possible, is more senior than any staff involved in your complaint.
We will tell you of our findings within 10 working days, using your preferred method of contact. If it takes longer than this, we will inform you of progress, the reasons for any delay and when we will reply in full.
If you remain dissatisfied with the response received at Stage 1 you may escalate your complaint and ask for a review by a member of the Governance team (if your complaint relates to the Governance team it will be dealt with by a different team). This must be done within 28 days of the date of the Stage 1 reply. Please provide details of why you remain dissatisfied and outline:
- which aspects of your complaint are still not resolved
- how you think your complaint could be resolved.
The Commission will not consider any issues which were not previously raised in the Stage 1 complaint in a Stage 2 review.
We will acknowledge your stage 2 complaint within three working days of receiving it. We will aim to reply to you within 20 working days. Where it is not possible to complete the investigation and provide a response within that timeframe, we will inform you of progress, the reasons for any delay and when we will reply in full.
Stage 2 is the end of the internal process for complaints against the Commission.
If you’re not happy with how we’ve dealt with your complaint after a Stage 2 response, and would like to take the matter further, you can contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman makes final decisions on complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS, government departments and some other public organisations. Their service is free for everyone. To take a complaint to the Ombudsman, go to the Ombudsman website (opens in a new tab) or call 0345 015 4033.
The following time limits apply to making a formal complaint:
Stage 1 complaint:
Within 3 months of the issue arising. If the complaint is about a particular incident you should make it as soon as you can after the event.
Stage 2 complaint:
Within 28 days of the date of the stage 1 reply from us.
Complaints to the Ombudsman will have different time limits. You can check what these time limits are on the Ombudsman website (opens in a new tab) or by calling 0345 015 4033.
We understand that each case is different so we may extend these time limits depending on the circumstances of the case.
When we get things wrong we will try to put things right. This may include:
- accept responsibility and apologise
- explain what went wrong, and why
- put things right by making any changes needed
- learn lessons from mistakes, and change practices and policies where it is sensible and proportionate to do so.
Principles of good complaint handling
The Commission have adopted the six principles of good complaint handling (opens in a new tab) identified by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The six principles are:
- Getting it right
- Being customer focused
- Being open and accountable
- Acting fairly and proportionately
- Putting things right
- Seeking continuous improvement.
When a complaint raises concerns about an employee’s conduct which merits investigation under the Commission’s disciplinary policy, the investigation of the complaint may be suspended whilst the disciplinary investigation is carried out. Under such circumstances the normal timescale for responding to complaints will be set aside, and the complainant will be informed.
Complaints about Commission employees will be logged and escalated. The specific arrangements for senior individuals are that complaints relating to:
- the Chair will be referred to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
- the Chief Executive or any of the Commissioners are referred to the Chair
- the Executive Directors will be referred to the Chief Executive.
If the Commission receives contact that is considered to be unreasonable or vexatious from a complainant, the Unreasonable behaviour policy will be applied. Conversely, an individual may challenge the application of the Unreasonable behaviour policy and submit a complaint to dispute any contact restrictions that have been applied in line with paragraph 4.5. of the Unreasonable behaviour policy.
Roles, responsibilities and reporting
The Commission’s Board is responsible for approving the complaints policy and process. The Board also receives quarterly reports on complaints.
The Commission’s Audit and Risk Committee will review the complaints policy, process and performance annually to ensure compliance with best practice.
The Governance team is responsible for:
- providing advice and guidance to all staff and managers on complaints handling
- determining whether expressions of dissatisfaction fall within the remit of the complaints policy
- overseeing the handling of all complaints received to the complaints inbox, including determining whether complaints should be resolved at stage one or stage two
- keeping this policy and complaints handling processes up to date
- monitoring complaints data and coordinating complaint audits
- monitoring and reviewing the Commission’s complaints performance and the progress of actions relating to lessons learned
- conducting stage two complaint investigations and providing support and oversight to staff resolving stage one complaints.
All Commission staff will be familiar with this policy to enable them to resolve stage one complaints and provide advice to complainants about how to make a complaint. All staff have the responsibility to report formal complaints to Governance if escalation is required.