Complaints procedure

If you have a complaint about the way we operate or the services we provide, you can tell us by telephone, in writing, by fax, by email, or in person.

Standards of service

If you have a question about Defra policy many can usually be answered quickly and satisfactorily by contacting the Defra Helpline. The helpline can be contacted between 8am and 6pm on 08459 33 55 77 or by email at defra.helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk.

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” and Defra has a formal and transparent complaints process in place to handle them. Please note though 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, you should first tell us by telephone, in writing or via email. We have a 3 stage process designed to deal with complaints quickly, effectively and fairly.

Stage 1

In most cases it is possible to resolve your complaint immediately by informing the person you are dealing with that you are not satisfied. So please make our staff aware of your complaint as soon as possible and we will do all we can to resolve it to your satisfaction. The official will aim to respond to you in writing within 15 working days.

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 relevant official does not resolve your complaint it should be escalated to the Deputy Director for that policy area. The Deputy Director will aim to respond to you in writing within 15 working days.

If you are unhappy with the response you receive at this stage, you can refer your complaint to the Service Standards Complaints Adjudicator.

Stage 3

If you are still unhappy with the way your complaint has been handled, you should write to Defra’s Service Standards Complaints Adjudicator at:

Service Standards Complaints Adjudicator Email: service-standards.adjudicator@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Area 7C, Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London
SW1P 3JR

The adjudicator is responsible for investigating and adjudicating on any complaints about standards of service. They will investigate your complaint and report back 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.

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

OPHSO
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 EC or other 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 him.

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 Mike Kaye, Head of Defra’s Information Services Team, who will arrange for your complaint to be investigated. His address is:

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Area 4D
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London
SW1P 3JR

email: requestforinfo@defra.gsi.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 a request for access to personal information under the Data Protection Act 1998 you should contact Defra’s Data Protection Officer at:

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Area 4D
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London
SW1P 3JR

email: data.protection@defra.gsi.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 2005, you can write to Defra’s Library, Translation Service and Data Sharing Team, who will arrange for your complaint to be investigated and will let you know the outcome. The address is:

Library, Translation Service and Data Sharing Team
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Information Resource Centre, Ergon House
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR

Fax: 020 7238 6609

email: defra.library@defra.gsi.gov.uk

If, having heard the outcome of your complaint, you are still dissatisfied, you can refer your case to the Office of Public Sector Information at:

Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI)
Admiralty Arch (North Side)
The Mall
London SW1A 2WH

email: opsilicensing@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk

If your complaint isn’t fully resolved by the Office of Public Sector Information, it can be referred to the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information

Procurement and contractual matters

If your complaint relates to a request to any procurement or contractual matter, you can write to the Director of Purchasing and Supply, who will arrange for your complaint to be investigated and will let you know the outcome. His address is:

Director of Purchasing and Supply
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Area 4C,
Nobel House,
17 Smith Square
London
SW1P 3JR

email: simon.hewitt@defra.gsi.gov.uk

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