Skip to main content

In some circumstances, it can currently take up to 4.5 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 those complaining about Councillors or board members

This privacy notice describes how we collect and use your personal information if you make a complaint about the conduct of a Councillor or board member. 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.

We collect information about you when:

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

We will ask you to provide:

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

We may ask you to provide:

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

In assessing your complaint, we might gather the following which may contain information about you:

  • Evidence from the Councillor(s) or board member(s) complained about and third parties
  • Internal documentation about your 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 your 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.

From 3 April 2023, a summary of your complaint will always be shared with the Councillor(s) or board member(s) you have complained about. Your name will normally be shared with them, your contact details will not be shared. If accepted for investigation, your full complaint will always be shared with them. We may need to contact other parties, such as witnesses, during the investigation. We may have to 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 Complaints section of our website. 

You may wish to remain anonymous. If so, we will ask you for information supporting your request for anonymity. Any information you provide will be kept confidential and will not be shared with anyone outside our office. 

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

  • Where we find there has been a breach, the proposed report will be provided to the Councillor(s) or board member(s) complained about for their comments. It will also be shared with the relevant local authority or public body. You, and the Standards Commission for Scotland, will be notified that a proposed breach report has been issued. The final report will be submitted to the Standards Commission and shared with you, the Councillor(s) or board member(s) 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 Councillor(s) or board member(s) complained about and the relevant local authority or public body.

The report may include your name and contact details. The report will include the following:

  • The complaint
  • Details of the investigation
  • The facts found by the Commissioner which may include materials from you, the Councillor(s) or board member(s) complained about and third parties.
  • The Commissioner's conclusions
  • Where a breach has been found, the Councillor(s) or board member(s)' response to our 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 complaint 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. 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.