Submitting a complaint

Find information about the options available for submitting a complaint to the society.

About

Submitting a complaint

The society seeks to deliver the best possible service to its members and the public. In doing so we intend to consider fairly all complaints received about our members, products and services, and all appeals against our decisions, in an open and transparent way.

The society is committed to learning from all complaints and appeals received and using them to identify direct improvements.

Informal resolution

It's best to raise a minor issue with an appropriate society member or BPS staff first because it might be a simple case of misunderstanding or something that can be addressed with an apology, or an explanation, or a different solution. We hope that the vast majority of concerns will be resolved in this way.

Making a complaint

If you think the issue cannot be addressed informally or if your concerns have not been satisfactorily addressed informally, then you are asked to make a formal complaint or appeal.

The contact and process to use depends on what your concern is in relation to:

  • Conduct of someone who is on the Wider Psychological Workforce Register - please consult the Complaints about a WPW registrant tab
  • Conduct of someone who is a member of the society but not on the WPW Register - please consult the Complaints about a member tab

If you are concerned about the conduct of someone who is a Practitioner Psychologist registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), then you should raise your concern with the HCPC first.

If you are concerned about the BPS position on a policy matter, you should contact the Policy team.

Any complaints sent directly to members of BPS staff, including members of the Senior Management Team and Trustees, will be forwarded to the Quality Assurance and Standards team to be formally logged and addressed.

Informal resolution

Where possible, we encourage informal resolution of concerns and ask that if someone has concerns about the conduct of a member that they tell the member first if at all possible.

If they think this option is not appropriate, or if they do not feel comfortable taking that route, or if they cannot reach a satisfactory resolution informally, then they should raise the concern with the society.

Raising a concern

  • If you think someone is in immediate danger, you should call the police
  • If you think a member is acting unprofessionally in their practice as a psychological professional (i.e. they may not be Fit to Practise), then you should first raise this with their employer, if they have one
  • If the member is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a Registered (or Practitioner) Psychologist (i.e. a Clinical Psychologist, Counselling Psychologist, Educational Psychologist, Forensic Psychologist, Health Psychologist, Occupational Psychologist or Sports & Exercise Psychologist), then the concern should be raised directly with the HCPC because they are the body that regulates those professions
  • If the Member is on the Wider Psychological Workforce Register (i.e. as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner, Children's Wellbeing Practitioner, Education Mental Health Wellbeing Practitioner, Clinical Associate in Applied Psychology or Clinical Associate in Psychology), then you should follow our process on the next tab of this page for submitting a complaint about a WPW Registrant

If you are not sure, but you think people might be at risk, it is better to contact us to discuss the situation rather than do nothing.

If none of the situations above apply, and you think a member is in breach of the Member Conduct Rules, then please contact the Quality Assurance and Standards team with your complaint and your evidence.

You can write to:

Quality Assurance and Standards Officer
St Andrews House
48 Princess Road East
Leicester LE1 7DR

Or you can contact us via email.

Society staff are currently working flexibly, so email is the best form of contact to ensure you get through to the right person or team.

Member Conduct Rules

The Member Conduct Rules include the rules, the process that we follow when we received a concern about a member's conduct, what we consider as evidence of a breach of the rules, and how we decide on appropriate sanctions where rules have been breached.

Standing panel members

In accordance with the Society's Member Conduct Rules (MCR) procedure, the purpose of the standing panel is to consider cases brought under the Member Conduct Rules, to decide on whether any Rules have been breached, and if so, what sanction should be applied.

The MCR procedure requires that the standing panel includes "members of the society who have a depth of expertise in their area of activity" and "external panellists with specialist knowledge and skills".

The MCR Panel for each case is comprised of members of the standing panel, whose purpose is to operate in line with the MCR procedure as approved by the Board of Trustees, and to ensure that decisions are fair, transparent, consistent, and explained clearly.

Panel members should not be approached directly.

Please direct any questions to [email protected].

Current members of the Standing Panel are:

  • Peter Branney, Society member
  • Christina Buxton, Society member
  • Alison Clarke, Society member
  • Phil Cox, Society member
  • Roxane Gervais, Society member
  • Hayley Hall, External panellist
  • Cheryl Jones, Society member
  • Joe MacDonagh, Society member
  • Amit Parmar, External panellist
  • Hemisha Patel, External panellist
  • Denham Phipps, Society member
  • Rakesh Sharma, External panellist

Complaints about a WPW registrant

The Wider Psychological Workforce (WPW) Register is a register of individuals in psychological practitioner roles that are not regulated by law.

It is a voluntary register which means that psychological practitioners on the register have chosen to join the register, even though they do not have to, to show their commitment to their area of practice and giving good and safe care.

For the Wider Psychological Workforce Register, the society will investigate issues relating to the fitness to practise of registrants in line with its objective of maintaining public protection.

Informal resolution

Where possible we encourage informal resolution of concerns. We ask that if you have a complaint about a registrant that you tell the registrant first, or their employer. This will give them the chance to put things right and is usually the quickest way to resolve the matter. If you think the matter is too serious for this, or if you do not feel comfortable taking that route, or if you have tried that but your complaint is still not resolved, then you should make your complaint to the Society.

Making a complaint

If you wish to make a complaint against someone who is on the Wider Psychological Workforce Register, please complete the Wider Psychological Workforce (WPW) Register Concerns form.

Anonymous complaints

We can consider an anonymous complaint where we can independently verify that the issue you raise is true – for example the existence of a criminal conviction or outcome from another professional body or regulator, or where the matter that you are complaining about is in the public domain."

We would not normally pursue a complaint against a registrant where the complainant does not disclose their identity to us. ThIs is because the registrant has to be able to respond the complaint, and needs to know who is complaining to be able to do that.

If we decide that it is in the public interest to proceed with an anonymous complaint, then we will do so, but these occasions will be rare. If we do decide to consider your complaint anonymously, you need to know that giving the registrant the detail of the case may mean that they are able to identify who is complaining.

Group complaints

You can submit a complaint as a group of people who are all affected by the same issue. If this is the case, please choose someone from the group to act as a representative for the group, so that we have one consistent person to communicate with during the process, and you should tell us that you are acting on behalf of a group.

Your confidentiality

We will only use this information to investigate your concerns, and we will anonymise it where possible. Depending on the issue, it might not be possible to investigate effectively and maintain confidentiality, or it may not be in your best interests or those of the Society. If this is the case, we will explain the situation to you and tell you who we think we should share the information with.

Your personal data will be protected within the requirements of the current Data Protection laws and regulations and the Society's compliance policy.

Contact details

You can email us at [email protected]

You can write to us at: 

  • The British Psychological Society
    St Andrews House
    48 Princess Road East
    Leicester
    LE1 7DR

Or if these methods don't suit you, you can call us and talk to someone who will be happy to discuss your individual needs. Please use our dedicated complaints line: 0116 252 9919.

Our procedures, information and guidance

Please find further information about our procedures in the WPW Register Complaints Procedure.

If you can't find what you need, please contact the Fitness to Practise Team by emailing us at [email protected] or phoning us on 0116 252 9919.

The society publishes an annual report of complaints and their outcomes to ensure transparency whilst being mindful of the need for confidentiality.

Annual Review of Complaints 2023

(01 Jan 2023 to 31 Dec 2023)

Member Conduct Rules: number of MCR cases and their outcomes

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RuleNot concludedInsufficient evidenceNot upheldUpheldTotals
(2) Code of Ethics and Conduct32401 x Reprimand28
(6) Fitness for membership (inc. HCPC sanctions)512

1.x Reprimand

4 x Suspension

1 x Expulsion

14
Appeals00404
Admission001 declined2 permitted3
Totals8257946
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Society complaints and appeals

In the 2023 calendar year, the complaints team received 44 complaints under the society complaints procedure. These records do not include minor concerns and administrative errors that are resolved informally at an early stage.

Of the complaints, 19 were resolved informally, nine were not eligible for consideration through the complaints process and were addressed by the Chief Executive's Office, three were partially upheld, and eleven were not upheld.

The society received six appeals against decisions into membership, of which one was upheld and five were not upheld.

To preserve confidentiality, a breakdown of complaint and appeal topics is not presented here.

However, the following actions have been taken, or are being taken as a result of lessons learned whether the complaint/appeal was upheld or not:

Qualifications: Improvements were needed to address:

  • Processes on enrolment
  • Communication about the terms and conditions
  • Assessment processes and candidate expectations

Complaints team: Improvements have been made to how we communicate our decisions about whether a complaint is eligible and how it will be handled when referred to the CEO's office.

Journals: A new policy on appealing the decision of a journal editor has been introduced.

Document publishing: Documents now include information about author and revision dates.

Membership: Improvements to information about membership categories and renewal criteria.

Board of Trustees: revised the process for redacting minutes.

Annual Review of Complaints 2022

(01 Jan 2022 to 31 Dec 2022)

Member Conduct Rules: number of MCR cases and their outcomes

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Rule
No case to answer
Not upheld
Upheld
Totals
2 Code of Ethics and Conduct63 9
6 Fitness for membership (inc HCPC sanctions)  

4 x Reprimand

4 x Suspension

1 x Expulsion

9
appeals 3 3
Totals84921
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Society complaints and appeals

In the 2022 calendar year, the complaints team received 15 complaints under the Society complaints procedure. These records do not include minor concerns and administrative errors that are resolved informally at an early stage. Of the complaints, nine were resolved informally, two were not eligible for consideration through the complaints process and were addressed by the Chief Executive's Office, one was upheld, and three were not upheld.

To preserve confidentiality, a breakdown of complaint topics is not presented here. However, the following actions have been taken, or are being taken as a result of lessons learned:

  • Processes for identifying and marking Qualifications submissions are being moved into BPS Learn to remove the possibility of assignments being missed.
  • New information is being added to BPS publications to show who (which Board) was responsible for creating the document, when, and what date it is due for review.
  • Complaints can arise from a failure to address a relatively simple matter early on. Relevant managers are reviewing sample cases to develop more effective processes and communications.

The complaints team and the CEO's office have improved processes to ensure complaints and concerns are addressed and concluded in a timely manner.

Annual Review of Complaints 2021

(01 Jan 2021 to 09 Jan 2022)

Member Conduct Rules - Number of MCR cases and their outcomes

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Rule
Not pursued
Not upheld
Upheld
Ongoing
Totals
1. Reputation
Unethical conduct
1012x suspension
2x expulsion
116
3. HCPC outcome  1x suspension
1x expulsion
 2
6. Misleading titles1  12
Appeals against sanctions 2 24
Totals1136424
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The expulsions and suspensions for unethical conduct arise from the termination of employment for reasons relating to inappropriate conduct with vulnerable people or from members engaging in activity that is outside of their scope of competence and which has potential to cause harm.

Number of Society Complaints and Qualifications Complaints cases and their outcomes

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Subject of complaint
No.
Outcomes
Following procedures1Not upheld
Quality of service52x Upheld
2x Informal resolution
1x Ongoing
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Actions taken in the light of lessons learned from complaints, whether upheld or not:

  • The society is revising the procedure for proposing pieces of policy development work, to ensure that all relevant matters are considered thoroughly and that intended outcomes are clearly defined, before resources are committed to a project
  • We are developing guidance for members who are organising events specifically for students
  • We are improving the communication of our expectations of those who offer services in addition to their conducting of RQTU-entry assessments
  • The Qualifications team is revising its procedures to ensure that marking criteria are made available to candidates, as is appropriate for fair and transparent assessment

Complaints about the society

The BPS is committed to providing high quality services. We are open to feedback at any time and we seek to listen to and respond to views about the services we provide.

If anyone is dissatisfied with the services we provide we aim to resolve this quickly, fairly and effectively. We will address complaints positively and respond with an explanation, an apology or a suggestion on how to put things right. We will learn from each case and use lessons to improve our services.

Where possible, we encourage informal resolution of concerns. Concerns of a minor nature should be raised immediately with a member of staff who has responsibility for the service, with the aim of resolving the problem directly and informally. We hope that the majority of concerns will be resolved in this way.

If concerns cannot be satisfactorily resolved informally, or if the matter is serious and informal resolution would be inappropriate, then the formal complaints procedure should be followed.

The society's Complaints Policy and Procedure sets out what is eligible for consideration under the policy, how to raise a concern, and the procedure we will follow when we receive a complaint.