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Complaints procedure

How to make a complaint or report something on the website

Autism West Midlands Connect is a safe place for people to talk and share their ideas and questions. We have a Code of Conduct that explains what behaviour is acceptable. This protects users of the site and their privacy. It is possible though; that you might see something on the site that you think breaks the Code of Conduct. If you see something like this, you should report it to AWM.

The best way to report something on the site is to use the report button next to that comment or question. Anything added to the site by a user, has a small arrow on a grey button next to it. If you click on this button you will see a drop down menu, click on “Report to AWM”. This will send us a message telling us what item you are reporting and we will be able to check it very quickly and contact you with a response as soon as possible.

If you would like to make a complaint about something on the site, which has not been added by a user, please click on the purple tab that says “Contact”, at the top of the site and complete the contact form on that page. We will aim to contact you about your complaint within 2 days. This will usually be a confirmation that we have received your complaint, resolving the issue may take longer.

Please include as much information as possible to explain to us what was written, why there is a problem and what you would like us to do about it, all of this will be considered when we decide what to do about your complaint.

What sorts of things should I report?

The Code of Conduct has a full list of do’s and don’ts that everything on the website should follow. You should report anything that you think has broken one of these rules.

You should also report to us if anyone writes anything that upsets, scares or offends you.This can be anywhere on the site, including private inbox messages.

What we will do when we receive a complaint or report

When someone makes a report or complaint, we will investigate as quickly as possible. We will contact you to confirm we have received your report or complaint and we aim to do this within 2 days. We will then decide what we want to do about your report or complaint. How long this will take depends upon the situation but we aim to have made a decision within a week.

We will not act on every report or complaint. There will be times when we do not think there is a need to act on the report or complaint that has been made. This is entirely at our discretion.

If we do decide to proceed with your report or complaint then we may take one of three actions. The first action would be for situations that we do not consider to be very serious, this may be a misunderstanding or a poor choice of words that can be easily edited. In this case we will speak to the person who has been reported, explain the situation to them and ask them to edit their post to make it comply with our rules and the general atmosphere of the site.

For more serious situations - for example when somebody has made a rude comment about another user but it is the first time they have done so – we will delete the post and then contact the person who has been reported, explaining to them what was wrong about what they posted.

Finally, for serious cases of users repeatedly abusing the site and its rules, we reserve the right to block or ban users. Blocked users may be allowed to return to the site after a period of time decided by us. Banned users will be permanently banned.

If you would like to make a complaint about something that has been posted by another user on the site, because you think it is defamatory, then the procedure is slightly different. Defamatory means that they have posted something about you that is untrue and you think is damaging to the way other people see you. Simply saying mean things is not usually considered defamatory because it is unlikely that others will take it seriously and therefore is unlikely to seriously damage your reputation in society.

You must not make these kinds of statements on the site. Making defamatory statements in writing and onlineis called libel and this is a serious crime.

If you think someone has written a defamatory statement about you, you need to contact Autism West Midlands in writing with a notice of complaint.

In this notice of complaint, you must:

  • specify your email address at whichyou can be contacted;
  • tell us exactly what statement you are complaining about; and
  • tell us where it is posted and what exactly you think the statement means.

You must also tell us the parts of the statement that you think are either:

Factually inaccurate
Or

Opinions not supported by fact

We will endeavour to contact you within 24 hours to confirm that we have received your complaint. We will confirm with you that you do not have sufficient information about the poster to bring proceedings against that poster yourself. We will also confirm with you that you consent to us providing the poster with your name and email address. We may need to pass these details onto the poster, to pursue your complaint, but we will not do this without your consent.

We will pass on a copy of your notice of complaint to the poster within 48 hours of receiving it. The poster will then have 5 days to respond to the complaint. If you have not consented for us to pass on your contact details then we will conceal these in the copy of the notice of complaint that we send to the poster. The poster will have 5 days after we contact them, to respond.

If the poster wishes for the statement to be removed, then we will remove the statement within 48 hours of receiving this response and send you notice in writing that the statement has been removed.

If the poster does not wish for the statement to be removed then we will inform you in writing within 48 hours of receiving the poster's response to inform you of this and will provide to you the poster's name and/or address where the poster has consented to providing these details.

If you are the poster and you receive an email from us informing you that we have received a notice of complaint alleging that you have made a defamatory statement, your response must include whether or not you consent to having the post removed, your full name, postal address and whether or not consent for us to pass this information to the person who has complained. If we are ordered to pass this on by a court then we will not require your consent.

If we cannot contact you, you do not respond or you do not provide all necessary information then we will remove the statement within 48 hours. If we remove the statement, then the person who complained will be informed within 48 hours of the removal.

If you do not consent to having the statement removed, we will tell the person who has complained and pass on your contact details, where you have consented to this, or tell them that you have not consented for us to pass on your details.

We will also remove the statement within 48 hours of receiving the notice of complaint if:

  • we receive a notice of complaint from the same poster in relation to a statement that conveys the same or substantially the same imputation on two or more previous occasions;
  • on each occasion we have removed the statement;
  • the statement on each occasion was posted by the same poster; and
  • we receive a further notice of complaint in relation to it.

The process is outlined here:

I have made a complaint or report but I haven’t heard from you, why?

We aim to notify you that we have received your complaint within 2 days. If it has been more than 2 days since you made your report or complaint, please contact AWM and we will try to help. If it has been less than 2 days then please allow the full 2 days for us to get back to you.

We aim to answer all reports and complaints within 1 week. If you have received the notification email but are yet to hear from us about the outcome of your report or complaint, please ensure that you have waited at least 1 week. If it has been over a week since you contacted us, please contact AWM and we will try to help.

What will be the outcome of a complaint or report?

The outcome of a report or complaint depends totally on what has been reported and in what context it was posted. We will investigate all reports thoroughly and it will be entirely our decision as to what we do about any report or complaint.

Why haven’t you acted on my complaint or report?

There will be some reports and complaints that we will not act upon. Some complaints and reports may be done deliberately to upset a particular user and these will not be tolerated.

However, it is more likely that a report is made by mistake or about something that we do not feel needs us to act upon it. For example, if a user posts a comment that offends other users of the site but in a way that does not break any of our rules and brings a new point of view to an open discussion, then we will not act in any way.

Why have I been blocked/banned?

If you find that you have been blocked or banned from the site then you should have received an email from us about the reasons that led us to block or ban you. If you have not received this email then please contact us and we can tell you what cause you to be blocked or banned from the site. If you have been blocked, we can also tell you when you will be able to use the site again.

How do I get my account unblocked?

If your account has been blocked then you should have had an email explaining to you why your account was blocked and what you can do to get it unblocked. This may just be a matter of waiting for a period of time specified by us. If you did not receive this email or do not remember what it said, please contact us and we will let you know what it said.

If you have been banned from the site, you cannot get your account unblocked. We have decided that your behaviour is bad enough to mean that you can no longer use the site. You should have received an email explaining why you have been banned. Please contact us if you do not know why you have been banned or if you think that there has been a mistake.

What if I disagree with your decision?

Users have the right to appeal any decision made against them. The appeal must be made in writing to the Head of Marketing and Communications (HMC) of Autism West Midlands. The HMC will review your appeal, and the original complaint and outcome. If they think it is appropriate, they may change the decision or sanction. The decision of the HMC is final and no further correspondence will be entered into regarding the first decision, or the appeal outcome.