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After a complaint

After a complaint is sent to us, we’ll complete the following steps:

The first thing we do is to look at your complaint to see if we can accept it. This is known as an eligibility assessment.

We’ll write to you within 10 working days telling you if we can accept your complaint. If we do not accept your complaint, we will explain why. If we accept your complaint, we will begin the investigation.

Some reasons we may not accept your complaint are:

Your complaint will be looked into by an investigator. They may contact you to gather further information about your complaint.

The investigator will gather evidence about the events raised in the complaint. This may include:

  • telephoning or visiting the person complaining
  • interviewing, by telephone or in person, the staff involved, or any other relevant witnesses for further information
  • a site visit to see the situation for themselves
  • researching relevant laws, policies, procedures and guidelines
  • looking at relevant papers produced by the prison, probation or immigration service

After gathering all the information about your complaint, we’ll try to resolve it in one of the following ways:

Mediation – this means trying to find a solution that you and the organisation can agree on. This is often the best and quickest way to resolve the complaint.

A letter or report explaining our decision on the issue. This will include information on whether we agree with your complaint or not and the reasons for our decision. We may also include actions we recommend take place to resolve your complaint and prevent the issue from happening again.

A senior manager within the PPO or IPCI makes the final decision.

If we write a full report, we’ll send a draft copy to you, and to the organisation you are complaining about, to check that we have accurately described the details of the complaint. We’ll then send you the final copy of the report.

The recommendations we make in the report can require the organisation you are are complaining about to take action to resolve your complaint. They could also be aimed at preventing the issue from happening again in the future.

Some of the actions we can recommend are:

  • compensation for the loss or damage of property due to the negligence of the relevant organisation
  • an apology from the organisation at fault
  • cancelling an unfair punishment
  • a change of or a review of a HMPPS or Home Office policy

The organisation must tell us whether they accept our recommendations and let us know when they will put them in place. We will also ask them to provide evidence that this has happened.

Learning lessons from investigations

To make things better for people in detention and on probation, we look at learning from all our investigations together. This helps us to make services better by identifying issues that may help to prevent complaints in the future.

Find out more about Learning Lessons.