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In some circumstances, it can currently take up to 5 months to conduct an initial assessment for some complaints, particularly if they are complex. We are doing everything we can to reduce this time. You can find average timescales for each stage of complaint handling across all types of complaints here.

Privacy notice for Councillors or board members being complained about

This privacy notice describes how we collect and use your personal information if you, as a Councillor or board member, are the subject of a complaint. It explains how we'll store and handle your data, and keep it safe. 

Further information about how we process personal data is available in our main Privacy Policy.

When someone makes a complaint, we will collect information about you when:

  • They contact us for advice
  • They bring a complaint to us
  • We are looking at their complaint and need more information to make a decision
  • They ask us to change any decision we've made
  • They complain about us

The complainant will be asked to provide:

  • Their name and contact details 
  • The name(s) of the Councillor(s) or board member(s) complained about 
  • A description of the conduct/incident they are complaining about
  • The date the incident happened
  • Whether they've complaint about this behaviour to another organisation 

We may ask them to provide:

  • Evidence supporting their complaint, including audio and video evidence 
  • The names and possibly the contact details of others involved 
  • Details of anyone they have chosen to represent them
  • Details about how we can make our service accessible to them

In assessing their complaint, we will hold your name and contact details and might gather the following which will contain information about you:

  • Evidence from you, as the Councillor(s) or board member(s) complained about, and third parties
  • Internal documentation about the complaint.

We will record and store your information in our electronic filing systems. You can find out more in the Storing your personal information section of our Privacy Policy

All details relating to the complaint are stored in an electronic case file. Any additional material we receive or generate will be stored in this case file. 

In order to obtain and assess evidence we may have to share large electronic files with you and other parties involved in the case. These may be too large to share by email. Where this is the case we use the file sharing platform WeTransfer. You will be advised when we intend to use this service. You can find out more about how WeTransfer manages personal data in their Privacy & Cookie statement. If preferred, alternative transfer methods may be available.

If accepted for investigation, the complaint will always be shared with you as the Councillor(s) or board member(s) complained about and the complainant's name will normally be shared with you. We may need to contact other parties, such as witnesses, during the investigation. We will disclose your identity to these parties to allow them to respond meaningfully. For more information on what we can and cannot investigate, please refer to the Complaint's section of our website. 

Once we have investigated the complaint, we will prepare a report.

  • Where we find there has been a breach, the proposed report will be provided to you and to the relevant local authority or public body for comment. We will also notify the complainant and the Standards Commission for Scotland that a proposed breach report has been issued. The final report will be submitted to the Standards Commission and shared with you, the complainant and the relevant local authority or public body. 
  • Where we find there has not been a breach, the report will be submitted to the Standards Commission and shared with you, the complainant and the relevant local authority or public body. 

Any report will include the following:

  • Your name 
  • The complaint
  • Details of the investigation 
  • The facts found by the Commissioner which may include materials from you, the complainant and third parties
  • The Commissioner's conclusions 
  • Your response to our report, if it is a breach report

The information may be presented in its original format or summarised. Any information provided, including that of third parties, may be included in the report where it is relevant to the investigation and findings. When you choose to provide third party information in support of your position and where this is relevant, the Commissioner is likely to include it in their report.

The Commissioner has a data sharing agreement with the Standards Commission to ensure the safe transfer of personal data. 

The Standards Commission may decide to hold a public hearing at which you may be called to give evidence. If the Standards Commission decides to hold a hearing we will provide your contact details to them. The Standards Commission's conclusions will be published on their website. 

Where the behaviour described may be criminal in nature we may suspend our investigation and submit a report to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. The Standards Commission will be informed if this happens. 

The ESC is covered by Freedom of Information laws. This means that anyone can ask us for the information that we hold. We must release this unless there is a good reason not to. The information requested may include personal data. We are very unlikely to release this without first informing the individual or seeking their opinion. 

The information in the case file will be for retained for three years. Our final decision will be retained permanently. Further details are available in our File Plan and Retention Schedule. Your data will be held in line with our Records Management Policy.

We have powers under the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 to process your personal data in this way.