The Science Council aims to provide an efficient and effective service and whilst we take every care to ensure that our services are of good quality, we accept that on occasions things may not go as planned and complaints will be made.
Moreover, we have high expectations in relation to the conduct of all those who work for or with us. To the extent that it appears that those expectations are not met, the Science Council would like the opportunity to consider the appropriate steps to take.
Where there is an available appeal mechanism in relation to the subject matter of the complaint, that appeals process should be used. Complaints and appeals in relation to related subject matter will not be considered simultaneously.
As a charity, we take every complaint seriously and we are committed to ensuring that all complaints are dealt with promptly, efficiently, and that wherever possible they result in an outcome that is acceptable to all concerned. This document sets out our complaints procedure relating to the actions of the Science Council, its staff, contractors and volunteers. It explains what we consider to be a complaint, how the process works and what you need to do if you’d like to leave feedback or make a complaint.
Providing positive feedback
We also welcome your feedback if you have had a particularly good service from the Science Council or an individual member of staff has been particularly helpful to you. Please let us know by contacting the Chief Executive Officer, Helen Gordon who will pass on your compliments to the individual(s).
What we consider to be a complaint
We consider a complaint to be an expression of dissatisfaction about the standard of service, actions or lack of action by the Science Council, its staff, contractors, members or volunteers that would not be more appropriately dealt with under one of the processes sign-posted below and is submitted to the Science Council using the procedure described below.
If the level of service that you have received is not to the standard that you expect, but you do not wish to make a formal complaint, you can send your views and comments to Chief Executive Officer, Helen Gordon.
What we cannot investigate
The Science Council is unable to consider the following complaints:
- Complaints against individual registrants. Handling complaints of this nature is the responsibility of the Licensed Body to which the registrant in question is associated.
- Complaints from registrants that have had their registered status suspended or who have been removed from the register, or from applicants who have not been approved for registration Handling complaints of this nature is the responsibility of the Licensed Body to which the individual in question is associated.
- Complaints regarding the scientific competence or practice of individuals or organisations.
- Complaints relating to criminal matters. You should contact the police (and other relevant authorities) to investigate it first.
The Science Council is also unable to consider complaints under this procedure which ought properly to be heard under a designated appeal process (such as the CAP appeals process [set out in the CAP Manual for Licensed Bodies]). If your complaint relates to the actions or conduct of a Member Body in relation to the adherence to the terms of its Science Council membership or a Licensed Body in relation to adherence to the terms of its licence awarded by the Science Council, the disciplinary procedure in our Regulations will be followed.
How to make a complaint
Please send your complaint in writing to the Chief Executive using either of the following methods:
Post: Helen Gordon
Science Council, c/o Fora Space, 71 Central St, London, EC1V 8AB.
If your complaint relates to the conduct of the Chief Executive or a trustee, it will be handled by the Chair of the Board. In this case, please send your complaint in writing using either of the following methods:
Post: Adam Donnan, Institution of Environmental Sciences, 6-8 Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 3NT
If the trustee is also a member of one of our Member organisations, the complaint may be referred to that organisation if appropriate.
If your complaint relates to the conduct of the Chair of the Board, it will be handled by the Vice Chair. In this case, please send your complaint in writing using either of the following methods:
Post: Catherine Ross, Science Council c/o Fora Space, 71 Central Street, London, EC1V 8AB
If you are sending a complaint by email please write ‘Complaint for the attention of (insert name)’ in the subject line.
If, for any reason, you are unable to make the complaint yourself, a representative (such as a friend or family member) may make a complaint on your behalf. In this case your representative should explain why you are unable to make the complaint yourself. We may need to contact you directly to confirm that you have consented to your representative acting on your behalf. You can tell us at any stage if you no longer want that person to represent you.
If you have a disability or accessibility needs, we can make reasonable adjustments for you. For example, we can take your comments over the phone, rather than you having to put it in writing. Please tell us if you have any particular requirements so we can adjust our process to you.
You should make your complaint as soon as possible after you become aware of the incident in question. The Science Council asks that you make complaints within 60 days of the incident complained of. We may consider complaints received beyond that deadline, if there is a good reason for the delay. If your complaint is sent after that deadline, please explain why your complaint is late when you submit the complaint.
What information you need to provide
So that we can best ensure that your complaint is dealt with promptly and efficiently, please provide us with the following:
- the name of the individual(s) and/or event you are complaining about;
- the date, time and location of the incident;
- the nature of the complaint (giving as much detail as possible and reasons why you are dissatisfied);
- your full name and contact details (anonymous complaints will be considered, but we may be limited in relation to the investigation and action that can be taken as a result);
- whether (and if so, when) you have submitted the same or similar complaint to any other interested party or under any other Science Council policy or procedure.
Please ensure that you have copies of any relevant supporting letters and other documents and include them in your correspondence to us. We are more likely to be able to resolve the matter if you have documentary evidence to support your complaint.
What happens first when I make a complaint?
Once received, we aim to deal with complaints quickly, taking prompt action to resolve it where we can, and taking steps to ensure that complaints of a similar nature do not arise in the future.
We will consider whether your complaint is one that Science Council can properly deal with. If not, it may be referred to another body, such as a regulatory authority or the police (where appropriate). If the allegation relates to a serious incident, the trustees will consider making a report to the Charity Commission for oversight purposes, but the Science Council will continue to deal with the complaint.
Where matters can be properly dealt with under this procedure by the Science Council, in the first instance we will try to resolve your complaint informally. The Chief Executive/Chair (“Investigator”) will review the evidence that you have submitted and identify the person(s) who provided the service to get a better understanding of the circumstances that are subject to your complaint. The Investigator may need to contact you again at this stage to acquire further information. Following the initial investigation, we aim to provide a response to your complaint (“Initial Investigation Response”) within 10 working days of your correspondence being received
Although the Investigator aims to respond to the majority of complaints within 10 working days, the time taken will vary depending on, for example, the complexity of the complaint. Where the Investigator is unable to respond within 10 working days, the Investigator will let you know.
If you are happy with the response given, we will close the file and destroy all records in accordance with Science Council data retention policy, which in this case of complaints is five years.
Where we do not receive any further correspondence from you, we will proceed on the basis that your complaint has been satisfactorily resolved.
What happens if you are not happy with the response?
If you feel that your complaint has not been satisfactorily resolved, you should write to the Investigator within 10 working days of receipt of the Initial Investigation Response. You should explain why you remain dissatisfied and how you would like to see the matter resolved. At this stage, so that we can best ensure that your complaint is dealt with promptly and efficiently, further detail may be required.
The Investigator will aim to respond within 10 working days to inform you of the further action that we have taken to resolve your complaint (“Secondary Investigation Response”).
Depending on the nature and seriousness of the complaint, we will either:
- investigate your complaint to see whether the Science Council can take action and tell you what action we are taking and when;
- tell you we are unable to progress your complaint further and explain why, and where applicable offer advice on who you should contact to progress your complaint; or,
- offer conciliation if we think it could help resolve your complaint.
If the Investigator is not able to fully investigate the complaint within this time-frame, they will contact you to advise you of the reasons why and an amended timescale for completion of the investigation.
What can you do if you are still not happy?
In circumstances where the complaint is being handled by the Chief Executive, if you feel that the problem has still not been satisfactorily resolved after receipt of the Secondary Investigation Response, you can request that the complaint is passed on to the Chair of the Board. This request should be made in writing to the Chief Executive using the contact details above within 10 working days of receipt of the Secondary Investigation Response. The Chief Executive will pass the request to the Chair within 5 working days of receiving it.
The Chair of the Board will assign a trustee who has not previously been involved in the complaint to investigate the complaint on the Board’s behalf (“Assigned Trustee”). The Chair of the Board will aim to assign a trustee for this purpose within 5 working days of receiving the request. If the Chair of the Board will not be able to assign a trustee to investigate the complaint within this time-frame, the Chair of the Board will write to you to explain why and provide an indication of when they expect to assign a trustee.
The Assigned Trustee will write to the Board within 5 working days of receiving the request, acknowledging their assignment, and setting out the actions that they will take to investigate the complaint. The Assigned Trustee will investigate the facts of the case themselves. This may involve reviewing the paperwork of the case and speaking with the person(s) who dealt with the complaint at earlier stages. At this stage, the Assigned Trustee may need to speak to you and other witnesses.
The Assigned Trustee will aim to report to the Board within 10 working days of acknowledging their assignment with a recommendation as to whether the complaint should be upheld and whether any remedial action should be taken. The Board will then vote (in accordance with its normal decision-making procedures) on whether to approve the recommended course of action.
The Assigned Trustee will write you to within 5 working days of any decision made by the Board. Whether the complaint is upheld or not, the reply to the complainant will describe the action taken to investigate the complaint, the conclusions from the investigation, and any action taken as a result of the complaint. The decision taken at this stage is final, unless the Board decides it is appropriate to seek external assistance with resolution.
If the Assigned Trustee is not able to fully investigate the complaint [within 10 working days], they will contact you to advise you of the reasons why and provide an amended timescale for completion of the investigation.
At any stage of the process you can ask for advice from the Charity Commission.
What information will the individual(s) subject to a complaint receive?
For an investigation to be fair, we need to consider all the facts and allow sufficient time to investigate the complaint. If an individual is the subject of the complaint, they will be shown all material relevant to the complaint against them. We are unable to pursue a complaint if we are not able to share the material with the individual affected.
Subject to the above, we will respect confidences as far as possible, giving proper consideration to your rights under data protection, freedom of information and human rights legislation. All correspondence between individual(s), the complainant and the Science Council will remain private and confidential. However, there may be certain instances where your identity will need to be disclosed or may become apparent.
Science Council staff, contractors and volunteers do not work with children, young people or vulnerable adults in their capacity as a representative of the Science Council. However, we take seriously any concerns raised in this regard. If your allegation is about a staff member, contractor or volunteer that has:
- behaved in a way that has harmed, or may have harmed a child, young person or vulnerable adult;
- committed a criminal offence against, or related to, a child, young person or vulnerable adult; or,
- behaved towards a child, young person or vulnerable adult in a way that indicates they are unsuitable to work with them.
- You must report this immediately to the relevant agencies. We ask that you keep the Science Council informed so that we can take appropriate action.
If your complaint is vexatious and/or repetitious, we may refuse to consider it. The Science Council defines a vexatious complaint as one which has no reasonable foundation or is otherwise a manifestly unjustified, inappropriate or improper use of the complaints process.
The Science Council defines a repetitious request as one which:
- is substantially the same as a previous complaint (whether made by or on behalf of the same or a different complainant);
- contains no fresh allegations which significantly affect the account of the previous complaint; or
- is supported by no fresh evidence, being evidence which was not reasonably available at the time the previous complaint was made.