Our commitment to responding effectively to complaints
The Labour Party expects its members to abide by the spirit and letter of its rules and to exhibit our shared values of solidarity, tolerance and respect at all times. We encourage people to report behaviour by our members that may constitute a breach of our rules or does not reflect our shared values. We take complaints seriously and we will assess every complaint received and take action where it is about an identifiable member or organisational body. Through the effective handling of complaints we aim to ensure the rules of the party are upheld and the party provides a place where members feel comfortable to engage in political activity and debate in a welcoming environment.
Fairness is at the heart of everything we do in the Labour Party, and a robust procedure for dealing with complaints is vital in order to ensure all our members are treated fairly. We hope you won’t have cause for complaint, but if you do we aim to deal with the concern in a prompt, transparent and fair manner.
What is a complaint?
A complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction with the behaviour or action demonstrated by a Labour Party member (or organisational body), which also evidences a breach of the party’s rules and/or conduct requirements.
Anyone can complain about the behaviour or actions of a Labour Party member, you do not have to be a member yourself to complain. However, there is a difference between whether you will be treated as a complainant or a third party and this will affect the level of information we will be able to share with you during our investigation or at its conclusion.
You will be a complainant if the behaviour or action you are complaining about was directed at you. You will be a third party if the behaviour or action was directed generally, or at someone other than you. For example, if a racist statement was posted on Twitter, naming you, and you complained to us about it, you would be treated as a complainant. If the racist statement named other people (or was just a general statement) and you complained to us, you would be treated as a third party.
It makes no difference to how we deal with a complaint whether it is raised by a complainant (someone directly affected), or a third party (someone indirectly affected). The only difference is that if you raise a complaint as a third party, we will be unable to provide any ongoing information due to confidentiality and data protection reasons.
Our complaints process
When you submit the complaint form on the party’s website you will receive an email acknowledgment. This tells you that it has been received. We will then assess your complaint to make sure that it does relate to a Labour Party member or organisational body. If it doesn’t, then we will let you know. If it does, then we will assess it in more detail to see if it is something that we can, or should, be investigating.
Occasionally we will decide not to investigate the complaint you have raised. This might be because there is insufficient evidence of the behaviour complained about, or that there are no membership sanctions that would be appropriate even if we did investigate. Sometimes, if for example, a police investigation or a legal case is ongoing, we will also suspend any potential Party investigation into a complaint until the outcome of the relevant external process has been concluded. Whatever we decide, we will let you know and explain our decision. You can find out more in our complaints policy.
The general route that a complaint investigation follows is, after it is assessed and accepted for investigation it will be allocated to a member of staff in the Governance and Legal Unit (GLU), who specialises in this type of work. That member of staff will ensure they understand your complaint fully and will approach both you and the Labour Party member complained about (where appropriate) to ask for any further information they may need. They may need to talk to several people and will undertake a desk-based investigation in order to get sufficient detail and to establish the facts surrounding your complaint. Investigations can take some time.
Once an investigation is completed, a recommendation for the outcome is passed to the National Executive Committee (NEC) and/or the National Constitutional Committee (NCC). The committee will then make a decision on all the evidence and whether they agree with the recommendation. If the complaint involves witnesses and cannot be determined on a written report and accompanying evidence alone, it is likely to be referred to the NCC for a hearing and determination.
It’s important to note that there are slightly different complaint handling processes depending on the type of complaint you submit. The reason for this is that we recognise there are different sensitivities that relate to certain complaints such as sexual harassment or those about discrimination, such as antisemitism, and we want to be sure that we deal with your complaint in the most effective and sensitive way.
Help and support
We understand that making a complaint or having a complaint made about you can be upsetting and distressing. The following organisations can offer help and support for your wellbeing:
- You can contact your GP who can help you access support for your mental health and wellbeing.
- The Samaritans are available 24/7 – They offer a safe place for anyone to talk any time they like, in their own way – about whatever’s getting to them. Telephone 116 123.
- Citizens Advice – Provide free, confidential and impartial advice. Their goal is to help everyone find a way forward, whatever problem they face. People go to the Citizens Advice Bureau with all sorts of issues. They may have money, benefit, housing or employment problems. They may be facing a crisis, or just considering their options. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/