‘Zero tolerance’ policy
This policy applies to all members of the general public who contact the offices of Suella Fernandes MP via letter, email, telephone or in person.
1. Aggressive or abusive behaviour
We understand that people can become angry when they feel that matters about which they feel strongly are not being dealt with as they wish. If that anger escalates into aggression towards our staff, we consider that unacceptable.
Any aggression or abuse directed towards our staff will not be tolerated.
i. Aggressive or abusive behaviour includes language (whether verbal or written) that may cause staff to feel afraid, threatened or abused and may include threats, personal verbal abuse, derogatory remarks and rudeness. Swearing at members of staff will not be tolerated.
ii. We also consider inflammatory statements, remarks of a racial or discriminatory nature and unsubstantiated allegations, to be abusive behaviour.
2. Unreasonable demands
A demand becomes unacceptable when it starts to, or when complying with the demand would, impact excessively on the work of our staff. Or when dealing with the matter takes up an excessive amount of staff time and in so doing, disadvantages other members of the public.
i. Repeatedly demanding responses within an unreasonable timescale
ii. Demanding responses from several members of staff on the same subject;
iii. Insisting on seeing or speaking to a particular member of staff when that is not possible;
iv. Repeatedly changing the substance of an enquiry or complaint or raising unrelated concerns;
v. Repeatedly posing a question time and again, when a response has already been given, because the individual may not like the answer they have received.
3. Unreasonable levels of contact
Sometimes the volume and duration of contact made to our staff by an individual causes problems.
This can occur over a short period, for example, when a large number of calls or emails are received from the same person in one day.
i. When we are dealing with a complaint or enquiry, this may occur when a person repeatedly makes long telephone calls to us or;
ii. Inundates us with emails or;
iii. Copies of information that have been already sent or that are irrelevant to the substance of the complaint or enquiry.
We consider that the level of contact has become unacceptable when the amount of time spent talking to an individual on the telephone, or responding to, reviewing and filing emails or written correspondence, impacts on our ability to deal with the matter, or on our responsibility for carrying out tasks relating to other constituents.
How we manage abusive or aggressive behaviour
Any member of staff who directly experiences aggressive or abusive behaviour from a constituent or member of the public, has the authority to deal immediately with that behaviour in a manner they consider appropriate to the situation and which is in line with this policy.
Staff will end telephone calls if they consider the caller aggressive, abusive or offensive. Our staff have the right to make this decision, to tell the caller that their behaviour is unacceptable and to end the call if the behaviour then persists.
If behaviour persists in future correspondence, we will tell the person in writing that we will not permit any further contact from them.
How we deal with other categories of unreasonable behaviour
Where a member of the public repeatedly phones, visits our offices, raises the same issue repeatedly, or sends us large numbers of documents about which the relevance is not clear, we may decide to:
• Limit contact to telephone calls from the person at set times on set days;
• Restrict contact to a nominated member of staff who will deal with future calls or correspondence;
• See the person by appointment only;
• Restrict contact to written correspondence only;
• Refuse to deal with further correspondence and return any documents or, in extreme cases;
• Advise the person that further irrelevant documentation will be destroyed;
• Take any other action that we consider appropriate to the circumstances.
Where we consider continued correspondence on a wide range of issues to be excessive, we may tell the person that only a certain number of issues will be considered in a given period and ask them to limit or focus their requests accordingly.
Where someone repeatedly demands a response on an issue on which they have already been a given a clear answer, we may refuse to respond to further enquiries from the person.
We will always tell the person in writing the action we are taking and the reasons why.