Making A Complaint

The British Polling Council (BPC) promotes transparency in the conduct and reporting of polls that enter the public domain. In so doing its aim is to enable users of polls to make an informed judgement for themselves about its merits and interpretation. To that end, the Council requires its member companies to adhere to various rules of disclosure, as specified at Section 2 of its Objects and Rules, and in particular at section 2.3.

The British Polling Council is an organisation whose main aim is to promote transparency in polling. We do not have a remit to police polling methodology, and for this reason members are not allowed to use BPC membership as any form of quality accreditation.

So long as members give the required details of the methodology they have used, and the full wording of questions asked, in any published polls, they are meeting the BPC Rules.

We are thus not in a position to respond to complaints about question wording, or about sampling or data collection methods. Some, though not all, of our members are also members of the Market Research Society, and/or ESOMAR, and both these organisations do have a remit to police survey quality, and complaints should therefore be directed to them.

Should you think that details of a poll that has entered the public domain and was conducted by a BPC member have not been released in accordance with the BPC’s Objects and Rules, please raise the issue in the first instance with the company concerned. Those companies that belong to the BPC together with details of who may be contacted in the first instance are available here.

In the event that this does not resolve the issue to your satisfaction, you may submit a complaint to the Council by writing to the Secretary, Nick Moon.

Any complaint should specify which particular BPC rule or rules you believe has been broken and why. All complaints are judged against these rules.

The procedure for dealing with complaints is detailed at Section 4 of the Council’s Objects and Rules. In brief, an initial determination will be made by the officers of the BPC, the outcome of which will be made known to the complainant. In the event that that determination requires that further information should be released and that judgement is not accepted by the member organisation in question, the issue will be referred to a sub-committee on disclosure, whose decision is final.

It should be noted that the following issues do not fall within the remit of the Council:

  1. The merits or ethics of how a poll has been conducted, including the wording of the questions that have been asked. Any complaints about such matters may be referred to the Market Research Society(MRS), which upholds a professional code of conduct to which all of its members are required to adhere. Many BPC members are also members of the MRS.
  2. How a poll has been reported or interpreted by a news organisation. In the case of a newspaper that belongs to one or other of that industry’s regulatory bodies, IMPRESS and IPSO, a complaint may be made to the relevant regulator. Any complaint about a broadcast by the BBC should be made in the first instance to the BBC itself, while a complaint about any other regulated broadcaster may be referred to OfCom.