Supporting Victims of Unfounded Allegations of Abuse

Innocent and accused?

We’re here to help

Helpline 0333 335 5827

Writing effective letters of complaint

Home » Resources and Support » FACTsheets » Writing effective letters of complaint

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

logo for our FACT sheet

Writing effective letters of complaint to local authority staff, officials or other politicians.

Local authority staff and elected officials receive a great deal of correspondence and are usually very busy. You will increase your chances of getting your letter noticed if you follow some simple rules.

  • Address your letter to the relevant manager/official but do not expect them to necessarily reply in person. As in business matters often have to be delegated to more experienced or less busy people.
  • Be respectful. If you want the reader to be responsive to your ideas, write in a friendly and non-threatening manner.
  • Identify who you are and what the purpose of  your letter is. Make it clear whether you are just making a comment, a criticism, or a complaint.
  • Keep your letter Short. It should be 1-2 pages long when single-spaced, dated and signed. Always keep an exact copy.
  • Be assertive (and not aggressive) in your thesis. Explain what the issue is. Identify the problem. Suggest a remedy if you have one in mind
  • Utilise power positions. Readers tend to skim letters, make your most important points in the first and last paragraphs.
  • Establish credibility. Do your research and get your facts right. Don’t let the fact that you are not an expert prevent you from expressing your opinion.
  • Establish commonality.  To establish commonality you can mention something that you both agree on. Establish yourself as an ally working towards the same goal.
  • Request that the official take a particular course of action.  This may be a to carry out an investigation, change a decision, find a solution, suggest a remedy etc.
  • Ask for a reply/remedy within a reasonable stated time-span. Consider if your letter should be forwarded to anyone else.

What type of correspondence carries the most weight?

Simply put, the more effort that went into the letter, the more value is attached to it.

  • A hard copy letter carries more weight than an email.
  • An original letter carries more weight than a copied one.
  • A letter carries more weight than a postcard or a signature on a petition.

See also

Lobbying your politicians