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Complaints Procedure

The Orkney Islands Council values your comments and takes your complaints seriously. Our definition of a complaint is:

'An expression of dissatisfaction by one or more members of the public about the local authority's action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by or on behalf of the local authority.'

Orkney Islands Council has revised its complaints procedure under the guidance of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO). A standard approach to handling complaints has been promoted across local government, with the intention of helping Councils get it right first time.

The new procedure is designed to improve customer satisfaction by dealing with complaints as close as possible to the point of service delivery. This will allow the Council to deal with complaints quickly.

See 'Related Downloads' section of this page for the Complaints Procedure and Customer Guide.How Do I Make a Complaint?

If you are unhappy with the service you have received from the Council there are a number of ways in which you can make your concerns known:

When complaining, please tell us:

What happens when I have complained?

We will always tell you who is dealing with your complaint. 

Our complaints procedure has two stages:

Stage One – frontline resolution

We aim to resolve complaints quickly and close to where we provided the service. This could mean an on-the-spot apology and explanation if something has clearly gone wrong, and immediate action to resolve the problem.

We will give you our decision at Stage 1 in five working days or less, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

If we cannot resolve your complaint at this stage, we will explain why and tell you what you can do next.  We might suggest that you take your complaint to Stage 2. You may choose to do this immediately or sometime after you get our initial decision.

Stage Two – investigation

Stage Two deals with two types of complaint: those that have not been resolved at Stage One and those that are complex and require detailed investigation.

When using Stage Two we will:

If our investigation will take longer than 20 working days, we will tell you. We will agree revised time limits with you and keep you updated on progress.

What if I'm still dissatisfied?

After we have fully investigated, if you are still dissatisfied with our decision or the way we dealt with your complaint, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to look at it.

The SPSO cannot normally look at:

The SPSO website is available from the 'Related Sites' section of this page.

Complaints Officers

The Chief Executive’s Service and each directorate has at least one nominated complaints officer. The complaints officers’ responsibilities include:

Nominated complaints officers for each Service:

Whatever way you contact the Council, you should explain as clearly as possible what you are complaining about, and what you think should happen to resolve the matter.

Some people may choose to make their complaint direct to their local Councillor or to the Council’s Chief Executive. It should be noted, however, that complaints made to Councillors and the Chief Executive are passed on by them to the relevant Complaints Officer to be dealt with.

Handling anonymous complaints

We value all complaints. This means we treat all complaints including anonymous complaints seriously and will take action to consider them further, wherever this is appropriate.  Generally, we will consider anonymous complaints if there is enough information in the complaint to enable us to make further enquiries. If, however, an anonymous complaint does not provide enough information to enable us to take further action, we may decide not to pursue it further. Any decision not to pursue an anonymous complaint must be authorised by the relevant Executive Director or Head of Service.

What if I Have an Issue That Makes it Difficult for me to Complain?

We understand that some people, for a variety of reasons, may find it very difficult to make a complaint. In such circumstances the Complaints Officer for the service involved will arrange assistance to help you make your complaint.

Alternatively you may wish to seek assistance from another agency, for example, the Citizens Advice Bureau or an advocacy service.

Complaints about senior staff

Complaints about senior staff can be difficult to handle, as there may be a conflict of interest for the staff investigating the complaint. When serious complaints are raised against senior staff, it is particularly important that the investigation is conducted by an individual who is independent of the situation. An officer at an equivalent or higher level in another service or local authority may be required to conduct the investigation.

Complaints about Councillors

This complaints procedure does not deal with complaints against Councillors. A complaint that a Councillor has breached the Councillors code of conduct should be made to the Public Standards Commissioner on their website available from the 'Related Sites' section of this page. 

Social work and social care complaints

For complaints regarding social work and community care services (Orkney Health and Care) please use the 'Complaints, Compliments and Feedback - OHAC' link available from the 'Related Links' section of this page.


For any concerns relating to planning please read the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman guidance on ‘What to do if you have a complaint about the way your
objection to a planning application has been handled’ and the Council’s Complaints Handling Procedure Customer Guide which are both available from the ‘Related Links’ section of this page.


Related Links

Related Sites

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535

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Orkney Islands Council: BOREAS DOMUS MARE AMICUS