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Prisoner Complaints

Independent,
Impartial
Investigation

The Prisoner Ombudsman investigates complaints submitted to the Office by individual prisoners, and in certain circumstances former prisoners, who have failed to resolve their problem or concern through the Prison Service Internal Complaints Process.

The Prisoner Ombudsman also investigates complaints submitted to the Office by Visitors who have been unable to resolve their problem or concern through the Visits Manager of the prison they attended.

For prisoners, the Prison Service internal complaints process has two stages, described below, and both stages must be completed before the prisoner can bring their complaint to the Prisoner Ombudsman.

DownloadPrisoner Complaint Form

Stage 1

  • A prisoner should submit their complaint within 21 days of the event that took place to cause the complaint.
  • Complete a Prison Complaint Form. Forms should always be available from Prison Service staff and should be easily obtained by prisoners.
  • If help is needed to complete a form, a friend, the Independent Monitoring Board or Prison Service staff can assist.
  • When complete, put the complaints form into the residential Complaints Post-Box.
  • The Prison Service should interview the prisoner within 24 hours.
  • The Prison Service should also provide a written response to the prisoner within 14 days.
  • If the prisoner is unhappy with the response, they can move the complaint to Stage 2. This must be done within 10 days of receiving the response. The response will have a Stage 2 section for the prisoner to explain their reasons for remaining unsatisfied. Complete the Stage 2 section and put the complaints form into the residential Complaints Post-Box.
  • If the prisoner does not receive a response to their complaint within 14 days, they can also move the complaint to Stage 2. Complete a complaint form explaining no reply has been received to Stage 1. Also explain the wish to progress the complaint to Stage 2. Then put the form into the residential Complaints Post-Box.

Stage 2

  • Stage 2 is a second opportunity for everyone to resolve the complaint and also has a 14 day deadline.
  • Again, the Prison Service should provide a Stage 2 written response to the prisoner within 14 days.
  • If a prisoner is unhappy with the Stage 2 response, they can call or write to the Prisoner Ombudsman’s Office and register their complaint – 0800 783 6317.
  • If a prisoner does not receive a response within 14 days, they can also call or write to the Prisoner Ombudsman’s Office and register their complaint – 0800 783 6317.

Former Prisoner Complaints

For former prisoners, the Prison Service internal complaints process has one stage which must be completed before the former prisoner can bring their complaint to the Prisoner Ombudsman. The process is as follows:

  • A former prisoner should submit their complaint within 21 days of the event that took place to cause the complaint.
  • A former prisoner must send a written complaint to the Governor of the prison about which the complaint is being made. Prison addresses can be found on our Visitor Complaints page.
  • The Prison Service should provide a written response within 14 days.
  • If the former prisoner is unhappy with the response, they can call or write to the Prisoner Ombudsman’s Office and register their complaint – 0800 783 6317.
  • If the former prisoner does not receive a response within 14 days, they can also call or write to the Prisoner Ombudsman’s Office and register their complaint – 0800 783 6317.

Complaints Received by the Prisoner Ombudsman

Complaints from prisoners and former prisoners are normally only accepted by the Prisoner Ombudsman if received within 30 days of the final Prison Service response being received by them, or deadlines having been reached. However, the Prisoner Ombudsman has discretion to consider complaints where there is a good reason for a delay or the issues raised are so serious as to override the time factor.

Within 3 days of receiving a complaint, the Prisoner Ombudsman will write to a prisoner explaining what will happen next.

If someone is unsure of which stage their complaint has reached, we can advise. Simply contact us.

The Terms of Reference for the Investigation of Complaints explains the Prisoner Ombudsman’s investigative process.