We are committed to providing a fair, impartial and accessible service to everyone who interacts with us. We will not normally restrict the amount of contact people have with us. We want to listen to individuals to understand why they have contacted us and take on board their feedback.
We do not expect our staff to tolerate any form of behaviour that could be considered abusive, offensive or threatening, or that becomes so frequent it makes it more difficult for us to complete our work or help other people. We will take action under this policy to manage this type of behaviour and this applies to all contact with us including the use of social media to post about us. We will make reasonable adjustments to ensure our service is accessible to everyone. It is important to us though, that we provide a safe environment for our staff to work in, which may mean we decide to restrict how someone can contact us.
We do not view behaviour as unacceptable just because an individual is assertive or determined. We also recognise that upsetting circumstances, for example an issue which prompted someone to complain, may make people angry or act out of character. We understand that people can have special communication requirements due to disability or illness. We encourage you to make us aware if you are affected by such circumstances, and we will aim to make reasonable adjustments for you.
What do we mean by unacceptable behaviour?
Examples of unacceptable behaviour include:
- use of abusive, obscene or threatening language.
- abusive, derogatory or discriminatory comments directed at our staff, including those made publicly e.g. via social media.
- repeated unnecessary phone calls or refusal to end telephone conversations.
- persistent or lengthy correspondence which is outside of the regulator’s ability to act and/or adding nothing new to the matter.
- requesting responses within unreasonable timescales.
- repeatedly changing the substance of an enquiry or complaint and/or raising unrelated concerns.
- refusal to accept a decision, outcome, feedback, or advice where an explanation has been given.
- repeated submission of unfounded or new complaints arising from the same set of facts.
How will we manage this?
Where an individual’s behaviour is unacceptable, we will manage contact to protect our staff and the effective running of our service. If we consider that the behaviour is so extreme that it puts the immediate safety or welfare of our staff or others at risk, we will consider ending all contact immediately. We may also report the incident to the police or take legal action. In these circumstances, we may not warn the individual before acting.
Unless the immediate safety and welfare of our staff is at risk, we will always inform an individual that their behaviour is unacceptable and give them the chance to modify this before we restrict contact. If we do need to restrict contact, our actions will be proportionate, taking into account the nature of the behaviour and the impact this is having on our work, as well as any relevant personal circumstances and the needs of the individual. Types of restrictions that we may place on communication include:
- no further calls will be accepted, and all future contact must be in writing.
- all contact must be made to a designated member of staff.
- correspondence will only be replied to if it is raising new issues or concerns. Unless a new issue is being complained about, we will keep the correspondence on file but may not acknowledge receipt.
- correspondence will not be replied to if it contains abusive, obscene or threatening language, or discriminatory comments (including related to protected characteristics). In these instances, we will not acknowledge receipt.
- in extreme situations, we may limit contact with an individual to through a third party.
We will communicate our decision clearly in writing to the individual and tell them what restrictions apply and for how long. We will explain how they can challenge the decision if they disagree with it.