Complaints Policy and Procedure

1. Complaints Policy Statement

Colchester Mercury Theatre Ltd:

  • is committed to providing a good standard of quality services to its audience’s, users, other agencies and partner organisations.
  • will take seriously any concern or complaint and will look into it promptly, for resolution as quickly as possible.
  • recognises that all audiences, users, agencies and organisations
    • have the right to raise concerns or complaints about our services.
    • have access to clear information on how to voice complaints and concerns.
  • concerns and complaints procedure are open to everyone who visits or engages with the activities of the Mercury Theatre either at its base in Colchester City Centre or within the community and people acting on their behalf.
  • will ensure this information is available on the website.
  • will deal with complaints in line with Colchester Mercury Theatre Ltd ‘s Privacy and General Data Protection policy.
  • will keep a register of all complaints, which will be reviewed regularly by the Board of Trustees.
  • complaints procedure will be part of the process of monitoring the quality, effectiveness and nature of its programme and activities.
  • All staff, volunteers and Board Members are required to read, understand and comply with this policy and its procedures.

2. Introduction

2.1 Colchester Mercury Theatre Ltd strives for high standards in delivery and welcomes feedback from individuals, audiences and users, stakeholders, funding bodies and anyone who works with us, on all aspects of our work. Such feedback is invaluable in helping us evaluate and improve our programme.

2.2 The objectives of Colchester Mercury Theatre Ltd’s complaints policy and procedures are to:

  • Ensure everyone knows how to make a complaint and how a complaint will be handled.
  • Ensure that complaints are dealt with consistently, fairly and sensitively within clear time frames.
  • Provide individuals with a fair and effective way to complain about our work.
  • Ensure that complaints are monitored to improve our services.

2.3 Colchester Mercury Theatre Ltd will ensure that we:

  • Listen carefully to complaints and treat complaints as confidential, where possible.
  • Record, store and manage all complaints accurately and in accordance with GDPR and the Data Protection legislation.
  • Investigate the complaint fully, objectively and within the stated time frame.
  • Notify the complainant of the results of the investigation and any right of appeal.
  • Inform the complainant of any action that will be implemented in order to ensure that there is no re-occurrence.
  • Report to the Board of Trustees, on an annual basis, the number of complaints received, the outcomes and any actions taken.

3. Definition of a Complaint

3.1 A complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction by an individual, whether justified or not.

3.2 An individual may make a complaint if they feel that the Colchester Mercury Theatre Ltd has:

  • Failed to provide a service or an acceptable standard of service or made a mistake in the way the service was provided.
  • Failed to act in a proper way. Provided an unfair service.

3.3 This policy and procedure relates only to complaints received about Colchester Mercury Theatre Ltd, its programme or activities.

4. Concern or Complaint

4.1 It is important to establish the difference between a concern and a complaint. Taking informal concerns seriously at the earliest stage will reduce the likelihood of their developing into formal complaints.

4.2 If you have any concerns about our work please tell a member of staff that you are engaged with (such as a Workshop leader) or our Customer Experience Supervisors responsible for the smooth running of all performances and events as soon as possible, so they can quickly understand your concerns and try to put things right.

4.3 If you are not happy with the response to your concern and/or you want to make a formal complaint please follow the procedure below.

5. Complaints Procedure

5.1 Colchester Mercury Theatre Ltd aims to settle the majority of complaints quickly and satisfactorily by the member of staff who provides the service. The complaint may be resolved quickly by way of an apology or by an acceptable explanation to the individual.

5.2 There are three stages to the complaint’s procedure:

  • Stage One – the complaint
  • Stage Two – investigation
  • Stage Three – appeal

6. Stage One – Complaint

6.1 The complaint can be written (either in hard copy or via email) or if the individual prefers they can tell someone at the Mercury, or someone else, who will write it down for them. The complainant will need to sign it.

6.2 Individuals wishing to make a complaint should address their complaint to the

Operations Director at [email protected] or the Mercury Theatre, Balkerne Gate Colchester CO1 1PT

6.3 The complaint should include the complainants name and address, the nature and date of the complaint and how they want to see it resolved.

6.4 On receipt, each complaint will be allocated a reference number and logged on the complaints register. Complainants will receive an acknowledgement within 3 working days of receipt of a signed complaint.

7. Stage Two – Investigation

7.1 All complaints at this stage will be dealt with by a Head of Department. If they need to meet with the complainant, they will do so within seven working days of receiving the written complaint.

7.2 Complaints will be fully investigated, and a written response provided to the complainant within ten working days by the investigator.

7.3 The complainant will receive written confirmation of the outcome of any investigation any recommendations/remedies made, such as reviewing of policies, staff development and training or appropriate improvement to our programme or activities.

7.4 Where the complaint is upheld an apology will be offered.

7.5 Occasionally investigations may take longer, particularly if the complaint is complex. Should this be the case a holding letter will be sent after ten working days and a final date given for a conclusion to be reached.

7.6 If an individual remains dissatisfied with the outcome from Stage Two they can appeal within fourteen working days of the date of the outcome and progress to Stage Three.

7.7 The complaints register will be updated, and any pending complaints flagged so they are followed up.

8. Stage Three – Appeal

8.1 If the complaint cannot be resolved to the complainants satisfaction at stage two, or if the Head of Department feels that the complaint is of a very serious nature, or concerns a service leader then it will be referred to one of the CoChief Executives.

8.2 If the complaint is about one of the Chief Executive’s then the matter will be referred to the Chair of the Mercury’s Board of Trustees.

8.3 The Chief Executive and/or Board Member will acknowledge receipt within three working days, they will review the Stage Two investigation and recommend one of the following actions within ten working days (from the date the complainant stated they wanted to take the complaint to stage 3):

  • Uphold the action taken at Stage Two
  • Make changes to the Stage Two recommendation/actions.
    • The complainant should be informed in writing of the outcome of stage three, the decision reached about this complaint will then be final but other options available to the complainant (as listed below) should be detailed in the letter.
    • If after Colchester Mercury Theatre Ltd has been through the three stages and the complainant is still not satisfied with the result, they should be advised that there is no further right of appeal with the Colchester Mercury Theatre Ltd but they could approach any of the following agencies for advice:
  • A solicitor
  • Citizens Advice Bureau

This should be done within one month of receiving the outcome from the appeal.

9. Anonymous Complaints

9.1 Complaints received anonymously will be recorded and considered, but action may be limited if further information is required to ensure a full and fair investigation.

10. Data Protection

10.1 To process a complaint Colchester Mercury Theatre Ltd will hold personal data about the complainant, which the individual provides, and which other people give in response to the complaint. We will hold this data securely and only use it to address the complaint. The identity of the person making the complaint will only be known to those who need to consider the complaint and will not be revealed to other people or made public. However, it may not be possible to preserve confidentiality in some circumstances, for example, where relevant legislation applied, or allegations are made which involve the conduct of third parties.

10.2 Colchester Mercury Theatre Ltd will destroy complaints files in a secure manner six years after the complaint has been closed.

11. Monitoring

11.1 Complaints are an important tool which, alongside data provided by exit surveys, stakeholder surveys, user feedback and focus groups, will allow us to learn about the programme and activities we provide. They provide a useful source of information about how our audiences and users view our work and how we are serving them. To ensure we can learn from complaints the following data will be collected:

  • Name and address
  • Name of person dealing with the complaint
  • Date of complaint and response
  • Nature of complaint
  • Action(s) taken/recommendations made in response to the complaint lessons learnt.

11.2 Complaints information will be considered on a regular basis by the Co-Chief

Executives and Senior Management Team and reported annually to the Mercury Theatre’s Board of Directors. Wherever possible the data will be used to improve and develop the service.

September 2023