Updated Terms of Reference for Complaints
Published on July 27 2022
NOTIFICATION OF END OF EXCEPTIONAL COMPLAINTS ASSESSMENT AND INVESTIGATIONS PROCESS AND UPDATED TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR COMPLAINTS
This notice has been issued to inform stakeholders that the Exceptional Complaints Assessment and Investigative Process initiated in July 2020 to manage a significant backlog of complaints will formally end on 31 July 2022 with normal business resuming thereafter on 1 August 2022.
The introduction of the Exceptional Complaints Assessment and Investigative Process provided an opportunity for review and improvement and has led to the current Terms of Reference for complaints and supporting documents being updated to support best practice. The following suite of documents will be available to access on the Prisoner Ombudsman website from 1 August 2022:
- Updated Terms of Reference for Complaints
- Guidance: for early resolution of complaints based on remedy
- Guidance: for handling complaints under Prison Rule 79N
- Guidance: for handling unacceptable behaviour from complainants or their representatives
For the avoidance of doubt this process does not relate to the investigation of deaths in custody.
A separate Notice outlining the above arrangements and updated documentation will shortly issue to individuals in custody (Annex A).
Dr Lesley Carroll
Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland
NOTICE TO ALL INDIVIDUALS IN CUSTODY
PRISONER OMBUDSMAN COMPLAINTS INVESTIGATOINS
In July 2020 an Exceptional Assessment and Investigations Process was introduced to address a backlog of complaints investigations. We committed to learning from the Exceptional Process and returning to normal business as soon as possible. The time has now come for normal business to return therefore:
Updated Terms of Reference will apply from 01 August 2022, and The Exceptional Assessment and Investigations Process will be discontinued
As has always been the case, the Ombudsman considers complaints relating to how you are treated by those employed in the Prison Service, the facilities available to you and the cleanliness and adequacy of prison premises and applies standards as set out in Prison Rules.
Key changes for you to know about:
All complaints will be subject to investigation. Investigation now includes a formal and robust preliminary investigation stage to ensure all eligible complaints are dealt with appropriately and proportionately.
During Preliminary Investigation the Ombudsman may decide not to accept a complaint or continue any investigation where the complaint is:
· raises no substantial issue,
Guidance is in place, setting a standard for each of these categories.
Complaints will continue to be investigated in chronological order except where preliminary investigation results in the complaint being considered a priority.
Should you wish to obtain a hard copy of the new Terms of Reference please contact our office on 08007 836317.
Dr Lesley Carroll
Prisoner Ombudsman for NI