It has been a year since Alison Stanley wrote her 18 month independent review of the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS), and 28 of her 33 recommendations have now been implemented. This is in large part due to the hard work of the ICGS team. We have created the new ICGS Hub, we are recruiting more investigators, and we have made the complaints process more streamlined and accessible.
An important recommendation implemented in April 2021 was the agreed time limit for non-recent cases of bullying and harassment. Up until 28 April 2022, there will be no time limit on lodging non-recent cases (this has applied since non-recent cases were eligible under the scheme in October 2019). This has ensured that long-standing complaints that had not previously been addressed, such as the case of John Bercow, could be investigated.
However, as agreed in both Houses, from 28 April 2022, there will be a time limit of one year from when the bullying and harassment incident (or the latest of those incidents) happened. This is to ensure investigations are conducted in a timely manner, and that evidence can be collected efficiently. After the ICGS opened to non-recent complaints, colleagues did come forward to have their non-recent complaints addressed through the ICGS. Almost three years later, this has naturally tapered off. In the past six months, all complaints were about recent experiences.
It is extremely important that, if you want to make a complaint concerning bullying and harassment that happened more than one year ago, you should phone the helpline before 28 April 2022.
For anyone experiencing sexual misconduct, it can take a long time to come to process that behaviour, and so there will continue to be no time limit placed on complaints of sexual misconduct.
These changes do not apply in respect of complaints about the behaviour of members of the House of Lords or their staff. These complaints are dealt with under the Lords Code of Conduct, which states that complaints must usually be made within six years of the conduct complained of.
You can call the independent ICGS helpline anonymously and as many times as you need, to ask for advice and information. You can also make a formal complaint about behaviour that you have experienced. Your calls will be treated confidentially and empathetically. For more information please visit the ICGS hub. Former members of the parliamentary community can visit the UK Parliament website for further information.
The helpline is there for all of us. Please use it.