How to make a complaint

NORTHERN IRELAND POLICING BOARD

POLICY FOR DEALING WITH COMPLAINTS AGAINST THE POLICING BOARD

Introduction

1. This policy is intended for use by anyone who is not satisfied with any aspect of the Northern Ireland Policing Board’s (NIPB) services or actions. This may relate to the actions of a NIPB Member or staff in relation to the implementation of a NIPB policy.   

 2. This policy does not cover;

  • Complaints against PSNI officers – in line with the provisions of Section 52 (1) (b) of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998, all such complaints must be directed to the Police Ombudsman’s Office for consideration.  Details on how to make a complaint to the Police Ombudsman can be found on its website.
  •  Complaints concerning a decision taken by PSNI Pensions Branch (as Pensions Administrator) or taken by the NIPB (as Scheme Manager and/or Injury Benefits Administrator) concerning the handling of a Police Pension or Injury on Duty Award – all such complaints should be raised under the appropriate Internal Dispute Resolution procedure stated below:

PSNI Pensions Branch Administration – Internal Dispute Resolution Procedure

NIPB – Internal Dispute Resolution Procedure (PDF 93 KB)

 

Part One

Raising A Concern

3. Anyone who is not satisfied with any aspect of the NIPB’s services or actions has the right to have their concerns addressed. This can be done by contacting the Chief Executive of the NIPB either verbally (by telephone, text phone, or by calling in to the NIPB’s offices) or in writing (by letter, e-mail or fax) at:

 

Northern Ireland Policing Board
Waterside Tower
31 Clarendon Road
Clarendon Dock
Belfast
BT1 3BG

 

Telephone: 028 9040 8500
Email: information@nipolicingboard.org.uk
 
4. Depending on the nature of the concerns raised the Chief Executive may then nominate a relevant Director to deal with the concerns and act as the main point of contact.
 

5. Every effort will be made to deal with concerns raised in an informal way to the satisfaction of all concerned. If it is not possible to do this, the complainant can subsequently request that the formal complaints procedure be invoked. A complainant may also request that their complaint is dealt with through the same formal process which is detailed in Parts 2, 3 and 4 below.

 

Part Two
 
Making a Formal Complaint to the Chief Executive

6. If a complaint cannot be resolved satisfactorily though informal means, or if the complainant does not wish to seek an informal resolution at the outset, then formal complaint procedures can be invoked.

7. In order to effectively deal with a formal complaint, the complainant must put into writing the specific issues they wish to complain about.  The complaint should be addressed to: 

 

The Chief Executive
Northern Ireland Policing Board
Waterside Tower
31 Clarendon Road
Clarendon Dock
Belfast
BT1 3BG
 
8. In the first instance all complaints should be addressed to the Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Policing Board. Depending on the nature of the complaint the Chief Executive will then nominate a Director to deal with the complaint and act as the main point of contact for the complainant. Where the complaint is in relation to the actions or conduct of the Chief Executive, the NIPB Chair would assume responsibility for the investigation. 
 

Registering and acknowledging a complaint:

 9. The complaint will be registered on the NIPB’s Complaints Register and acknowledged within three working days, and the complainant will be provided with a copy of the NIPB’s complaints policy.  We will treat all complaints impartially and with appropriate sensitivity.

10. If the complaint is against a specific member of staff rather than a policy, it will be investigated by the person’s line manager, who will report to the relevant Director. If the complaint is made against the Chief Executive it will be investigated by the NIPB Chair.

 11. If the complaint is about a general service, policy or procedure of the NIPB, it will be investigated the relevant Director appointed by the Chief Executive.

Responding to the complainant:

12. In either case, the relevant Director, or the NIPB Chair if the complaint is against the Chief Executive, will respond to the complainant within 20 working days of receiving the complaint. If there are any delays in the investigation of the complaint, the complainant will be informed of this and provided with a further date for a response.

If the complainant remains dissatisfied:

13. If, after receiving the response to their complaint from the relevant Director or the NIPB Chair, the complainant remains dissatisfied they may complain directly to the NIPB’s Performance Committee, in accordance with the procedures set out in part three of this policy.

Part Three:

Making a formal complaint to the Performance Committee:

14. A complaint to the Performance Committee must be made in writing to the Committee Chair (by letter, e-mail or fax). A complainant may only submit a complaint under this part of the policy after making a formal complaint to the Chief Executive as outlined in Part Two. The complaint must also be received by the NIPB within 30 days of the date of the relevant Director or NIPB Chair’s response to the original complaint under Part Two of this policy.

Procedure for dealing with the complaint:

15. Officials who support the Performance Committee will:

  •  ensure that the complaint is registered again on the NIPB’s Complaints Register and is acknowledged within three working days of receipt;
  •  ensure that all relevant paperwork is compiled by the appropriate Branch;
  •  bearing in mind the date of the next meeting of the Committee, if appropriate, liaise with NIPB Support Branch to convene a special meeting to consider the complaint;
  •  within 20 working days of the date of receiving the complaint, inform the complainant when their complaint will be considered by the Committee;
  •  prepare a paper for the Committee analysing the nature of the complaint and setting out the process, procedure or action that has given rise to the complaint;
  •  suggest remedial action, if any, that could be taken to ensure that the NIPB’s processes, procedures or actions do not give rise to similar complaints in the future.

16.  Members of the Performance Committee will consider the complaint and agree how best it can be dealt with.  It may be that:

  • the policy, process or procedure complained about has been analysed and found to be appropriate and/or in line with existing legislation and/or best practice; or
  •  the policy, process or procedure complained about has been analysed and is flawed in some way, or could be improved, and consideration should be given to changing it accordingly; or
  •  the complaint is about the way in which an officer of the NIPB has administered a policy, process or procedure or has conducted themselves and, as a result, a management or training issue has been identified and needs to be addressed.

 17. The Committee’s recommendations regarding the complaint should be referred to the Chairs Advisory Group in accordance with the NIPB’s Standing Orders.

18. Within 10 working days of the Performance Committee meeting, the complainant should be advised of the considerations of that Committee in respect of their complaint.

Conflict of interest:

 26. Complaints about the NIPB are likely to be about policies, processes and procedures, or about NIPB staff, and as such it is unlikely that conflict of interest issues will arise.  However, should any Member of the Performance Committee feel that there is a conflict of interest, they should advise the Chair of the Performance Committee of the nature of that conflict.  The Member will then be asked to exempt themselves from any involvement in considering the complaint.

27. Where a number of Members from the Committee are exempt from considering a complaint (as defined above) so that less than three Members remain, the Chair of the Committee must make arrangements for one or more Board Members, who are able to consider the complaint, to attend the Committee for the purposes of considering the complaint only.

Remedial action:

19. Where it is concluded that a flawed policy, process or procedure has given rise to the complaint, the Performance Committee should bring this to the attention of the Chief Executive of the NIPB, and/or the Chair of the Committee responsible for the policy, process or procedure.

20. The Performance Committee will monitor all complaints received by the NIPB, both those dealt with informally in accordance with Part One of this policy and those dealt with by either of the formal routes in accordance with Parts Two and Three of this policy. The Chief Executive of the NIPB will supply the Committee with a six monthly report on the issues raised/complaints made, how these have been addressed or progress being made in dealing with them.  This report will include details of, where appropriate, how, and within what time-scale, the flawed policy, process or procedure will be changed.

21. It will be the responsibility of the Performance Committee to make sure that the policy, process or procedure is satisfactorily changed.

22. All Directors should establish adequate processes within their Directorates to ensure that their staff are fully aware of the details of this policy and that the Chief Executive is provided with the information to enable them to provide comprehensive reports to the Performance Committee.

Compensation/financial recompense:

25. The NIPB and its committees do not have any power to pay compensation or make any other financial recompense in respect of any complaint which is upheld. Instead, the NIPB will focus its efforts into rectifying any processes or procedures found to be at fault, to make sure they do not give rise to any future complaints.

Responding to the complainant:

28. It is important that complainants are kept informed of the progress of their complaint through the Performance Committee.  Officials supporting the Performance Committee must:

  • make sure that the formal complaint is registered and acknowledged within three working days of receiving the complaint, and that the complainant is provided with the NIPB’s complaints policy;
  • within 20 working days of receiving the complaint, inform the complainant of the date on which their complaint will be considered by the .They should make sure that the complainant has a minimum of 14 days’ notice of the date of the meeting in case they wish to make any further written representations. If so, the complainant must do so at least seven days in advance of the meeting;
  • Within 10 working days of the meeting inform the complainant of the outcome and what remedial action if any, the Committee has recommended. Complainants should be advised that if they remain dissatisfied with the outcome they may apply to the Office of the Northern Ireland Ombudsman to investigate their complaint using the following details:

 

Northern Ireland Ombudsman
33 Wellington Place
Belfast
BT1 6HN

Tel: (028) 9023 3821  Fax: (028) 9023 4912

Email:  ombudsman@ni-ombudsman.org.uk  web: www.ni-ombudsman.org.uk

Office of the Northern Ireland Ombudsman:

23. If the complainant remains dissatisfied they may complain to the Office of the Northern Ireland Ombudsman, in accordance with its complaints procedures.

24. When informing the complainant of the outcome, following consideration of their complaint by the Performance Committee, the NIPB will direct the complainant to the Office of the Northern Ireland Ombudsman to consider if they remain dissatisfied.  Officials supporting the Performance Committee will be responsible for liaising with the Northern Ireland Ombudsman where information and documentation in relation to the complaint is requested. 

Review of this policy:

29. This policy will be reviewed every 12 months alongside a summary of the concerns raised/complaints made arising in the 12 months, the outcomes and the remedial action taken.

Screening the policy for section 75 issues:

30. This policy has been screened in relation to section 75 issues, and it was concluded that an equality impact assessment was not required.  This will be reviewed as above in the light of complaints received.