Complaints procedure

If you have a complaint about the way we operate or the services we provide, please provide details to us in writing, by post or email.

Standards of service

Before contacting us you should check to see if we’ve already published information to answer your query.

See information on relevant Defra contacts and key topics

If you have a question about Defra policy many can usually be answered quickly and satisfactorily by contacting the Defra Helpline.

Defra Helpline

Seacole Building
2 Marsham Street

London
SW1P 4DF

The quickest way to get a response is to call our Helpline which is open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm (find out about call charges at www.gov.uk/call-charges). Alternatively you can email us, or write to us at the postal address given above. We aim to reply to emails within fifteen working days. During the COVID-19 outbreak, as we work from home, responses to postal queries will be significantly delayed.

We recognise that it may sometimes be necessary to complain about the way Defra, or an individual, has provided a service. These complaints are known as service standards complaints. Defra has a formal and transparent complaints process in place to handle them. Please note that the service standards complaints process does not relate to internal complaint processes for staff, nor objections about the department’s policies.

Before making a service standard complaint, please also consider whether it relates to Defra, or one its 36 agencies and other bodies. Many of these bodies will have their own complaints procedures and the principal agencies can be contacted via the following links:

If you have a service standard complaint about the way we operate or the services we provide, please let us know as soon as possible in writing or via email. We have a 2 stage process designed to deal with complaints quickly, effectively and fairly.

Stage 1

Please address your complaint to the Defra Service Standards Adjudicator. The Service Standards Adjudicator is responsible for investigating complaints about standards of service. They will investigate your complaint, and aim to respond within 15 working days. If this is not possible they will write to you and explain the delay, informing you when you may expect a response. The Defra Service Standards Adjudicator can be contacted by email or post using the details below:

Service Standards Complaints Adjudicator

Email: service-standards.adjudicator@defra.gov.uk

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Area 5B
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London
SW1P 3JR

If you are unhappy with the response you receive at this stage, you can ask for your complaint to be passed to a senior manager.

Stage 2

If a response from the Service Standards Adjudicator does not resolve your complaint, you have 28 days to ask for your complaint to be escalated. To do this, please respond to the Service Standards Adjudicator in writing explaining why; your complaint will then be escalated to a senior manager for the relevant area. The senior manager will aim to respond to you in writing within 15 working days.

If you are not satisfied with the senior manager’s decision, you can ask any Member of Parliament to refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman:

PHSO
Millbank Tower
Milbank
London
SW1P 4QP

Please note that while we always aim to answer your complaint to the best of our ability, we cannot respond to repeated requests for the same information.

If your complaint relates to Defra’s policies or the interpretation of legislation, you should address it to the Head of the relevant policy division. These complaints fall outside the remit of the complaints adjudicator, so can’t be referred to them.

However, you can ask your MP to take up your complaint with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at Defra or with another Defra minister.

Access to information

If your complaint relates to a request for access to information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, or to our publication scheme, you can write to Andrew Mobsby, Head of Defra’s Information Rights Team, who will arrange for your complaint to be investigated. The address is:

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Area 5B
Nobel House
London
SW1P 3JR

email: informationrequests@defra.gov.uk

We must receive your complaint within 40 working days of the date you believe we failed to comply with the requirements of the regulations.

Complaints relating to requests handled by Defra’s executive agencies should be addressed to the relevant person within that agency and not to Defra itself.

If you have a complaint regarding Defra’s handling of your personal data, including your rights under data protection law, please contact the core Defra Data Protection Team.

email: data.protection@defra.gov.uk

We aim to respond to all complaints about access to information issues within 20 working days. If for any reason we aren’t to meet that deadline, we will let you know the reason for this and keep you informed of when you may expect to receive a reply.

If, having heard the outcome of your complaint, you are still dissatisfied, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Please note that generally the Information Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have first used Defra’s own complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Office for the Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

Re-use of information

If your complaint relates to a request to re-use information under the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015, you can contact Defra’s Library and Information Services Team at: libraryenquiries@defra.gov.uk. They will arrange for your complaint to be investigated and will let you know the outcome.

If, having heard the outcome of your complaint, you are still dissatisfied, you can refer your case to the Office of Public Sector Information which manages and regulates government information. They can be contacted at:

Email: psi@nationalarchives.gov.uk

Phone: General enquiries - 020 8876 3444 (National Archives)

Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI)
PO Box 3415
Norwich
NR7 7JS

Procurement and contractual matters

If your complaint relates to a request to any procurement or contractual matter, you can write to the Head of Defra Group Commercial, who will arrange for your complaint to be investigated and will let you know the outcome. Their address is:

Head of Defra Group Commercial
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Area 4C,
Nobel House,
17 Smith Square
London
SW1P 3JR

email: network.procurement@defra.gov.uk