Police and mental health

Explains when you may have contact with the police, what happens if you are arrested and what your rights are if you are taken to the police station. Applies to England and Wales.

Your stories

The night I spent in a cell

Claire blogs about why a police cell was the last place she needed to be during a mental health crisis.

Posted on 27/11/2014

Mental illness and violence

Marion Janner on substance abuse, stigma and sense of self.

Posted on 01/03/2010

Crisis care in Wales

Sara blogs about the changes to crisis care in Wales resulting from the Crisis Care Concordat.

Sara Moseley
Posted on 17/05/2017

How can I complain about the police?

If you are unhappy with the way the police treated you, you can:

You should report your concerns within 12 months of the incident. However if you think you’ve been discriminated against you may have to bring a claim within 6 months of the incident (for more information see our legal pages on disability discrimination).

Most complaints will be dealt with by the local police force. You can complain:

  • In person at the police station.
  • In writing to the police station.
  • Online through your local police force’s website. Links to local websites can be found online here.

However, serious complaints will be referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) (formerly called the the Independent Police Complaints Commission).  

If you are not happy with the outcome, you will be told about how you can appeal the decision.

Tips for making a complaint

Here are some helpful tips when making a complaint:

  • Date the letter of complaint.
  • Include your name and address.
  • Give a clear account of what happened and what went wrong.
  • Include all the relevant facts such as dates and names, but try to keep the letter concise.
  • Attach copies of relevant documents or photographs, and list the items enclosed in the letter.
  • Explain what you are asking for, for example, an apology, better service or an explanation.
  • Keep the tone polite.
  • Include when you'd like a reply by.
  • Keep a copy of the letter and any enclosed documents.
  • Send the letter by recorded delivery.


This information was published in November 2017. We will revise it in 2019.

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