Complaints procedure

How to make a complaint about an APHA service.


Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) is committed to providing high quality services.

Monitoring and evaluating our services is an important part of this to ensure our customers receive a continually improving service based on feedback.

Feedback may be positive (plaudits) or negative (complaints or expressions of dissatisfaction).

Our complaints procedure provides a formal route for you, as a customer, service user or member of the public, to bring a complaint to the attention of APHA.

It also helps us to continually improve our services.

What is a complaint

A complaint is a spoken or written expression of dissatisfaction or concern you may have about services provided internally or externally by APHA, actions or lack of actions by the agency or staff.

We take all complaints very seriously and aim to resolve them in a timely manner, both sensitively and fairly. We will admit when we have got things wrong and where we can, put things right.

Issues that can be raised

You can raise any aspect of our service you disagree with.

This may be where you are not happy about the way we have treated you. You may, for example, feel that one of our staff dealt with you poorly or we took too long to do something.

You may also feel that we have implemented regulations incorrectly. For example, you may feel that we are not applying a specific rule correctly, or fairly.

Business as usual will continue whilst your complaint is being investigated.

We will do all we can to resolve your concerns. However, if despite our best efforts we cannot reach a conclusion that meets your satisfaction, then you can ask your Member of Parliament (MP) to take your case to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

How to complain

You can contact your local APHA office by telephone, email or letter.

You can also complain in person with anyone representing APHA.

Or you can contact:

APHA Executive Support & Correspondence Management Unit
Woodham Lane
New Haw
KT15 3NB

Tel: 0208 225 7636

Email: APHA Executive Support & Correspondence mailbox

You should set out the facts as fully as possible including:

  • what went wrong
  • when it happened
  • who you dealt with
  • what you would like to happen next

The more details we have, the better we can deal with your complaint. You also need to tell us:

  • your day time telephone number
  • how you would prefer us to contact you

You can also use these contact details to send us your plaudits.

Complaints relating to the Welsh Language Scheme should be directed to APHA’s Welsh Language Officer. You can email

Complaints process

There are a number of steps your complaint may go through as we work to resolve it. Most complaints are resolved at the first step. You can ask us to confirm the outcome of any of the steps in writing.

1. Receipt of complaint

We will contact you to confirm that we have received your complaint. This may be via telephone, email or letter.

We aim to resolve your complaint within 15 working days. If this is not possible, the person dealing with your complaint will identify what action is required and contact you to agree a proposed plan to resolve your complaint, which may include passing it on for further consideration.

2. Unresolved complaint

If we have been unable to resolve your complaint at stage 1, it will be escalated to a senior manager within the relevant unit. They will review your complaint and responses received so far, in order to form their reply.

Again we will aim to resolve your complaint within 15 working days.

If this is not possible they will write to you to let you know what action is required and agree a proposed plan to resolve your complaint. Where you are still unable to resolve your complaint you can ask us to pass it on for review.

3. Internal review

This is carried out by the APHA Executive Support and Correspondence Management Unit who have not previously been involved with your case.

They will review your case and make a decision independently of any previous decision. The team will tell you of their conclusions and what resolutions they propose within 20 working days.

If you are still not satisfied with the outcome, you can ask your MP to refer your complaint to the Ombudsman.

4. Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

If you’re not satisfied with the reply from our internal review you can ask your Member of Parliament (MP) to raise your concerns with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman helps to resolve complaints about government departments and other public bodies. They do not become involved until we have had the opportunity to deal with your complaint through our procedure.

Your complaint must be made to your MP within 12 months from the day you became aware of the issue you are complaining about. If the Ombudsman receives a case after this deadline they will only investigate if they consider there are special circumstances in which to do so.

Providing new information

You can, throughout the process, present any new information and documents that relate to your complaint, even when these have not been previously submitted.

However, submitting these documents after the process has begun could result in a delay in responding to your concerns within the 15 working days commitment to respond.

Providing feedback

To ensure the APHA complaints procedure is working correctly and meeting our objectives, we will contact a sample of complainants to ask if they were happy with the complaints process and ask if the process above was followed.

Feedback received will be anonymous and will contribute to our performance measurement.

If you have a complaint or question which relates to Defra’s policies or the interpretation of legislation, you should contact the relevant policy area within Defra. This is not APHA’s remit.

Before contacting Defra you should check to see if they’ve already published information to answer your query. See Defra contacts and key topics. Alternatively, you can contact the Defra Helpline.