A complaints system enables the organisation to ensure the service provided is positive, responsive and open. This is achieved by prompt responses to complaints and effective monitoring to enable change.

For the purposes of the guidance a complaint is defined as any expression of dissatisfaction.

Who is entitled to complain?

All young people or their representatives (e.g. family, social worker etc) have the right to complain about the service provided.

Other professionals, members of the community are also entitled to complain about the service.

All staff must inform young people of their right to complain upon admission and a copy of the leaflet "How to Complain" must be given at the time of admission and upon request.


The principle guiding the response to a complaint will be to restore the complainant's confidence in the service and not to allocate blame.

Prompt responses are essential no complaints investigation will take longer than 20 days. Complaints may be about:

If a complaint is made in the unit

Guidance for dealing with informal complaints by young people or representatives of young people:

  • Ask if they want to pursue issue as a complaint
  • Say what will happen next and when
  • Take details/make accurate notes
  • Listen
  • Be honest
  • Take it seriously
  • Let them have their say
  • Use jargon
  • Take issues personally
  • Try and deter
  • Argue
  • Blame
If the young person is unhappy about how the complaint has been handled within the Secure Unit or is unhappy with the outcome they should be supported to follow the complaints procedure as soon as possible.Any following of the formal complaints procedure must also be recorded in the complaints file in the Secure Unit. Secure accommodation and loss of liberty does not prevent a young person from exercising their right to complain.