The challenge of getting decent services for someone who is recovering from sexual or serious violent crime is stressful and frustrating. 

When services go wrong, the impact can leave carers picking up the pieces, dealing with additional work and often, there is little time or energy left to even think about complaining.

This means that poor services continue unchallenged, senior managers have no real idea of the quality of the work ‘on the ground’ and the reality is, people DO complain – to their neighbours, their families, other service users…even the media. But if they don’t complain to the organisation that is providing the service, then there is little chance anything will improve.

The majority of the pages in the Help and Support section have information about complaints and where you should direct them.

People don’t complain because…

  • They don’t know if the service they’re receiving is good, bad or indifferent

Reality Check

If you’ve only ever lived in one area, then the chances are that you will only have received services from a limited number of organisations.

Every statutory authority or service in the UK has standards that they must meet and are inspected. Find the regulator or inspection organisation that checks on the service you’re concerned about – google will be your friend here – and see whether the service is performing well against national standards. You’ll then have a better idea if the service you are receiving matches the experience of others in your area. And if the service is considered to be failing, you will know what you are up against.

  • They don’t have any time for the additional work that making a complaint brings

Reality Check

It is inevitable that writing and dealing with a complaint will add addtional paperwork to your already busy life.

However, there are organisations that can help you with complaints such as Citizens Advice, an advocate – such as PohWer or Pals (Pals Advice and Liaison Services).

Making a complaint may in the long term lead to better services or an improved relationship with the organisation and make your life easier.

  • They aren’t convinced making a complaint will make any difference

Reality Check

If services in your area are inadeqaute, there are severe staff shortages or the service you need can’t be funded due to cuts, making a complaint can seem like a waste of time.

It’s possible that making a complaint will allow the organisation concerned to prove that they have dissatisfied customers or service users and that could make a difference to their funding or give them a chance to organise their priorities differently.

If no-one complains, they won’t know they need to be doing things differently.

  • They worry they might have to continue to have a relationship with the person they’re complaining about

Reality Check

If a complaint is serious or of a personal nature, then it is very unlikely that you will have to continue to work with that person. This is for their benefit as well as yours.

If you are unhappy with a particular person, then the quickest way to get a different person involved in your loved one’s care… is to make a complaint.

  • They don’t have a specific complaint, they’re just really p***ed off with the whole situation

Reality Check

If this is you, please know that you aren’t alone. Being able to ‘vent,’ and find time for yourself is very important. Please read our information about Rest and Respite and also Carer Burnout and consider Talking Therapy. Some areas of the UK offer self-referral to well-being services so do an internet search or ask your GP for more information.

  • They fear that they will be judged, attacked or blamed in some way and continue to carry guilt and shame

Reality Check

This is a really distressing vicious circle of negative thinking and is particularly apparent when families have child protection or social services involvement. If this is your situation, then involving an independent advocate to support you and your loved ones will help. An organisation such as PohWER should be able to provide more information or support.

  • They don’t know who to complain to!

Reality Check

This is a genuine problem faced by many carers. Information on most of our Help and Support pages has information about how to complain about services.

A bigger problem, especially for 3rd party victims of crime who receive services from multiple agencies is that a complaint could be about 2 organisations not working effectively together, or about a service user ‘falling through the cracks,’ which can be dangerous for both the victim of crime and their carers. If your issue is with multi-agency failures then one of the most effective ways to get support is to contact your MP. 

  • They are concerned about the impact a complaint might have on the service they are currently getting

Reality Check

Every statutory service (Health, Social Services, Mental Health, Housing, for example) has a requirement to ensure that complaints are dealt with fairly and that the fact that a complaint has been made cannot be allowed to impact continuing service delivery. It is one of the most essential elements of complaints management and something inspection services (such as the CQC or Ofsted) will search for and penalise organisations if there is any concern this might have happened. If it does happen, it is also an immediate gateway to escalate the complaint outside the organisation.

  • They are too tired and distressed to be able to cope with any additional conflict

Reality Check

Caring for a victims of crime can often feel like a constant fight and with so many different agencies involved, issues with one organisation can impact your relationship with others. Everything snowballs and the negative, aggressive attitude becomes a way of life – we come to expect to have to ‘fight’ for everything.

If you can identify the heart of the problem – the service that is letting you down or the problem that is causing the most significant issue, there is a possibility that you can reduce the level of conflict and the stress that seems to be a constant theme in your life before it seeps into every relationship.

Have a look in our Help and Support section.

Complaining improves services!

Making a complaint will improve the service your loved one receives and help other people get a better service as well.

Good organisations welcome complaints. They like the opportunity to get things right or make improvements. An organisation that welcomes complaints is an organisation that:

  • Customers trust have the ability to put things right
  • Listens to its customers
  • Wants to improve services
  • Supports its staff to continually improve without using complaints as a weapon
  • Has Senior Managers that are confident in their leadership