*Parliament will be dissolved on Thursday 30th May until the General Election. At this point, there will be no Members of Parliament. Any reference to me being a Member of Parliament on this website will be historical. I am the Labour candidate for the Selby constituency.*

Office Standards 

I appreciate that people might act out of character in times of trouble or distress. There may have been upsetting or distressing circumstances leading up to a constituent approaching my office – and many of those who do contact me do so as a last resort. 

 However, I cannot tolerate unacceptable behaviour nor actions that result in unacceptable or excessive demands on my staff in that it prevents them from carrying out their duties effectively. 

 It is those behaviours and actions that I aim to manage under this policy. 

  Aggressive or abusive behaviour 

 I understand that some constituents might often be upset or angry about the issues they have raised in their correspondence. It is not acceptable if that anger escalates to aggression towards my staff. Any violence or abuse towards staff will not be tolerated. 

 Violence includes acts of aggression that may result in physical harm, as well as behaviour or language (whether verbal or written) that may cause staff to feel threatened.   

 Unacceptable language is that which: 

  • is offensive, derogatory, or patronising, 
  • is discriminatory in any way, including racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic comments. 

 I may decide that comments aimed not at my staff but at third parties are unacceptable because of the effect that listening to or reading them may have on my staff. Examples include rudeness, offensive comments, derogatory remarks, making inflammatory statements, or raising unsubstantiated allegations against these third parties. 

 All threats against my staff will be taken very seriously and if staff feel scared or threatened at any point during a conversation with a constituent, the interaction may be ended at any time. 

 Unreasonable demands 

 A demand becomes unacceptable when it starts to (or when complying with the demand would) impact substantially on the work my staff carry out on my behalf. 

Examples of this behaviour include: 

  • repeatedly demanding a response within an unreasonable timescale, 
  • insisting on seeing or speaking to a particular member of staff, when that is not possible, 
  • repeatedly changing the substance of a complaint or raising unrelated concerns. 
  • Making repeated and unnecessary contact during the course of us dealing with a complaint or carrying out an investigation,
  • Refusing to accept a decision where explanations for the decision have been provided. 

 Unreasonable levels of contact 

 Sometimes the volume and duration of contact made to my office by an individual can make it difficult for my team and I to process their case. This can occur over a short period, for example, a number of calls in one day or hour. 

 It may occur over the lifespan of a complaint when a constituent repeatedly makes long telephone calls to us or inundates us with copies of information that has been sent already or that is not relevant to the complaint. 

 I consider that the level of contact has become unacceptable when the amount of time spent talking to a constituent on the telephone, or responding to, reviewing, and filing emails or written correspondence impacts on my ability to deal with that complaint, or with the concerns of other constituents. 

 Harassment  

 My staff have the right to carry out their duties free from harassment or threats of harassment. I ask everyone to respect that my staff are delivering a service on my behalf and therefore this may not reflect their own views or preferences. 

 Examples of behaviours I consider to be harassment against my office include: 

  • recording telephone discussions and publishing the information online such as through YouTube or Twitter; 
  • contacting staff using their personal details or social media presence such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn; 
  • publishing personal, sensitive, or private information about staff online or other public domains such as noticeboards or newsletters. 

 Refusal to co-operate 

 When looking at a complaint, my office will need to ask the individual who has contacted us to work with us. This can include agreeing with us: 

  • the complaint we will look at, 
  • providing us with further information, evidence, or comments on request, or 
  • helping us by summarising their concerns. 

 Sometimes, an individual repeatedly refuses to co-operate and this makes it difficult for us to proceed. My office will always seek to assist someone if they have a specific, genuine difficulty complying with a request. 

 However, it is not acceptable to bring a complaint to my office and then not respond to clear and appropriate requests by staff. 

 Actions I may take 

 When my office experiences behaviour or demands which are unacceptable, I may consider taking more formal action. The actions I will consider can include the following: 

  • Warning the constituent about their behaviour and requesting that the constituent modifies their behaviour in future contact with us. 
  • Appointing a specific point of contact for the constituent 
  • Communicating only in writing or via a representative. 
  • Deciding not to investigate a complaint on the basis that it has been pursued in a way that is unacceptable. 
  • Restricting or limiting contact. 
  • Stop all communication with a constituent. 

 Where it is decided that formal action must be taken to manage someone’s interaction with my office I, or my office, will inform them of the decision in writing.  A note will be placed on our records to this effect. 

Confidentiality 

 I process data in line with data protection regulations, and will always give constituents the option of remaining anonymous where it remains possible for me to assist them while that is the case. There are certain circumstances in which I will be required to share information regardless of consent, including: 

  • If a constituent informs me or a member of my team that they have a plan to hurt themselves or any other person. 
  • If a constituent informs me or a member of my team that they have committed or intend to commit an illegal act.  

 In such cases, the appropriate authorities may be informed without consent. 

I take my responsibilities as a constituency MP very seriously and aim to do all in my power to assist any person who seeks my support. The above standards are set out to allow my team to discharge their duties effectively. If you have any questions, please email keir.mather.mp@parliament.uk. 

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