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How to use an ombudsman in England

What is an ombudsman

An ombudsman is a person who has been appointed to look into complaints about an organisation. Using an ombudsman is a way of trying to resolve a complaint without going to court.

There are a number of ombudsmen:

An ombudsman should be a member of the British and Irish Ombudsman Association (BIOA). To check whether an ombudsman is a member of the BIOA, visit the BIOA website at: www.bioa.org.uk.

Ombudsmen are independent, free of charge and impartial – that is, they don't take sides with either the person who is complaining or the organisation being complained about.

In most cases, you must complain to the organisation first, before you make a complaint to the ombudsman.

If you need to spend money making a complaint to an ombudsman, for example travel expenses to an ombudsman's office, you may be able to claim this back. You should check with the ombudsman first before you spend any money that you want to claim back.

If an ombudsman finds that your complaint is justified, they will recommend what the organisation should do to put things right. An ombudsman can't force an organisation to go along with their recommendations, but organisations almost always do.

Investigations by an ombudsman sometimes take a long time.

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What type of complaint can the ombudsman investigate

The ombudsman’s job is to investigate cases of maladministration. This means the way in which an organisation has dealt with a situation or reached a decision. Examples of maladministration include:

  • an organisation not following its own policies or procedures
  • rudeness
  • delay in taking action or failing to take action
  • treating someone unfairly compared to others
  • giving wrong or misleading information.

The ombudsman will only look into a case where an individual (or in some cases group of individuals) has suffered personal injustice, hardship or financial loss because of the action or lack of action of a particular organisation.

In most cases, an ombudsman cannot look into a decision made by an organisation, just because you disagree with it.

You should complain to the ombudsman only if you have given the relevant organisation an opportunity to comment on the complaint and resolve any problems.

The ombudsman will not investigate a case if it is about to go to court or if court action has been started. In some cases, the ombudsman will not look into cases which could be dealt with by a court or tribunal.

You can find out more about which types of complaints an ombudsman can take up and what you must do before complaining to the ombudsman in the information that follows.

If you want to find out more about whether an ombudsman can take on a particular complaint, you should seek advice from an experienced advice worker, for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

You can also find more information about ombudsmen on the Advice Services Alliance website, at: www.asauk.org.uk.

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How to complain to the ombudsman

The procedure for starting the investigation by the ombudsman depends on which ombudsman the complaint is being made to. Most of the offices of the ombudsmen provide an application form for making a complaint However, you do not need to use an application form. You can contact them with the following information:

  • the name and address of the person making the complaint
  • the name and address of the organisation the complaint is being made about
  • details of what the complaint is about, that is, what did the organisation do wrong or fail to do
  • what personal injustice, financial loss or hardship was suffered
  • what the organisation should do to put the situation right
  • details of how the complaint has been followed up before you contacted the ombudsman
  • the date when you first identified the event you are complaining about.

Copies of any paperwork relevant to the complaint should also be sent.

You can seek help in contacting the ombudsman and starting the complaint procedure from an experienced adviser, for example, at Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

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Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

What sort of complaint can the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman deal with

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman investigates complaints about individuals who have been treated unfairly or have received poor service from a government department, a government agency, the National Health Service, NHS-funded services or other public body.

These are examples of the type of complain the ombudsman deals with:

  • slow or unsatisfactory responses to letters, and other unnecessary delays
  • incorrect or misleading information and advice given by government officials
  • refusal by government officials to give information to which a person is entitled
  • rudeness, discrimination or unhelpfulness by staff
  • failure to follow reasonable rules in procedures and administration
  • failure to acknowledge mistakes or apologise
  • failures in the quality of service. In the NHS, this could be the care and treatment provided by a doctor, nurse, dentist or other professional, such as a long wait for treatment or an operation. Within other government departments or agencies, it could be failure to treat people fairly and with dignity.

The ombudsman cannot usually look into the following types of complaint:

  • complaints about consumer issues, including gas, electricity and water
  • problems which can usually be taken to court
  • complaints about the police
  • complaints about government policies
  • complaints about services relating to a non-NHS hospital or nursing home (unless the services are paid for by the NHS)
  • complaints about services funded by local authorities such as care homes. The Local Government Ombudsman deals with these complaints.

The ombudsman does not have to look into a complaint. The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s office will be able to advise on whether or not the ombudsman can take up a complaint.

What to do first

You must complain first to the government department, public body or health service provider concerned, as they should be given an opportunity to look into the problem and try to resolve it. Details of the complaints procedure must be provided by the organisation you are complaining about.

For more information on how to make a complaint about an NHS service and the procedures involved, see NHS and local authority social services complaints.

You should always keep copies of any correspondence you send and any replies received. If the government department, public body or health services provider does not make a satisfactory response, consider making a complaint to the ombudsman.

How to complain

There are two main ways to refer a complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

For complaints about a government department, government agency or public body, you need to contact your MP after you have completed the complaints procedure. This is a legal requirement.You must set out the problem in writing and ask them to refer the case to the ombudsman. The MP should be sent all relevant correspondence. The MP may wish to look into the problem before referring it to the ombudsman, and may decide not to pass on your complaint. A form which you can use to send to your MP is available on the ombudsman's website at www.ombudsman.org.uk.

For complaints about the NHS in England, it is not necessary to involve an MP. You can contact the ombudsman direct once you have been through the normal complaints procedure. You can download a form for making a complaint about the health service at www.ombudsman.org.uk.

There is a time limit for making a complaint to the ombudsman. This is no later than a year from the date when you first became aware of the problem. If it was more than a year ago, the ombudsman may still be able to help if there are good reasons for the delay.

You can contact the office of the ombudsman directly to get advice about whether the case is one which they could take up.

The address of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is:

Millbank Tower
Millbank
London
SW1P 4QP

Helpline: 0345 015 4033
Textphone (minicom): 0300 061 4298
Fax: 0300 061 4000
E-mail: phso.enquiries@ombudsman.org.uk
Website: www.ombudsman.org.uk

What can the ombudsman do

The ombudsman will look at whether the complaint is one that they can deal with and that they have the legal power to investigate. If they decide they cannot help, they may be able to offer the following advice:

  • suggest another organisation that may be able to help with the complaint
  • give you advice on taking the complaint forward with the organisation concerned
  • explain how you can contact your MP so they can send your complaint to the ombudsman.

If the ombudsman decides to investigate your complaint, they will look at the facts, gather evidence and may seek expert advice as well. They might decide that the organisation (or individual in some cases) has acted correctly, or that there was a problem but they’ve already done enough to put things right. Or they may decide that the organisation has done something wrong.

If the ombudsman agrees that the complaint is justified and that you, or your relative or friend, have suffered injustice or hardship, they will normally investigate the complaint and produce a report which will be sent to you. The report will also be sent to the relevant government department, health authority and regulator.

The ombudsman can ask for:

  • an apology
  • financial compensation or repayment of money due (such as tax paid or benefits owed).

The ombudsman can also recommend improvements to the organisation. These may involve changes in the way services are provided, better administrative procedures and record keeping, improvements in communication, extra training for staff or changes to the way they handle complaints.

Although the ombudsman’s recommendations cannot be legally enforced, the findings or investigations are passed on to regulators who can enforce them.

In some cases the ombudsman can reopen cases and review them if the complainant shows that important pieces of evidence were missed or that there are aspects of the case that have not been fully considered. If you are unhappy with the final decision, you should contact the ombudsman review team who can provide advice.

There is no appeal against the ombudsman’s decision. The ombudsman will only start a new investigation into a complaint if completely new information is received which could not reasonably have been known about before. It is very rare for a new investigation to be started.

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Local Government Ombudsman

What sort of complaint can the Local Government Ombudsman deal with

The Local Government Ombudsman can deal with complaints of maladministration or poor service in the following organisations:

  • local authorities (but not town or parish councils). If you are a local authority tenant or leaseholder and you want to complain about your landlord, you need to contact the Housing Ombudsman
  • joint boards of local authorities
  • police and fire authorities (not complaints about individual police officers)
  • national park authorities
  • the Environment Agency (flood defence and land drainage matters only)
  • Education Appeal Panels
  • the Greater London Authority
  • school governing bodies (admission matters only)
  • adult social care providers, such as care homes and home care agencies.

The Local Government Ombudsman can only investigate complaints of maladministration which cause injustice, suffering or hardship. This means that they can only take up complaints about the way an organisation has done something, or not done something it should have done. Examples of the type of complaint they can investigate are:

  • delay or neglect in responding to enquiries or providing a service
  • failure to follow the agreed policies, rules or procedures of the organisation
  • rudeness, discrimination or unhelpfulness of officials
  • incorrect and/or misleading information and advice given by officials
  • failure of officials to provide advice and information.

The ombudsman cannot deal with the following types of complaints:

  • a complaint which could go, or has already gone, to a court or tribunal or where a government minister is involved
  • a complaint about something which affects all or most of the inhabitants in a local area, for example, a complaint that the council has wasted public money
  • court proceedings
  • contracts for the supply of goods and services to the council
  • personnel policies and practices of an organisation within the remit of the Local Government Ombudsman.

What to do first

Complain first to the organisation concerned. Contact the relevant department, setting out the problem. If you do not get a satisfactory response or you do not get an answer within a reasonable time, ask the Local Government Ombudsman to look into the complaint.

How to complain

You can send your complaint directly to the Local Government Ombudsman or you can ask a local councillor to do this for you.

To find out how to contact the Local Government Ombudsman, go to the Local Government Ombudsman's website at www.lgo.org.uk/making-a-complaint.

What the Local Government Ombudsman can do

If the Local Government Ombudsman thinks it is appropriate, they will investigate your complaint. Someone from the ombudsman's office may visit you. In some cases, the ombudsman may be able to help you come to an informal agreement with the organisation you have complained about. In other cases, the ombudsman may have to issue a report. You will not be named in the report. The organisation you have complained about will usually have to make the report available to the public.

If the ombudsman finds your complaint is justified, they will give recommendations on how to sort out the problem. The actions the Ombudsman might ask for include:

  • an apology
  • compensation
  • improved administrative procedures
  • putting the problem right.

The ombudsman has no power to force the organisation to take any of these steps, but organisations do usually agree with the recommendations.

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European Ombudsman

What sort of complaint can the European Ombudsman deal with

The European Ombudsman can investigate maladministration in the activities of the European community institutions and bodies. These bodies include the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the Court of Justice.

Examples of the problems that can be investigated by the European Ombudsman include administrative delay, refusing to give information, discrimination and abuse of power.

What to do first

Before you can make a complaint to the European Ombudsman, the European institution should be given the opportunity to look into the problem and try to sort it out.

How to complain

There is a time limit for making a complaint. You have two years from the date when you first knew about the problem. The complaint does not need to be referred to the European Ombudsman by a Member of European Parliament (MEP). There is no fee for making a complaint to the European Ombudsman. You should put the complaint in writing. There is a form that you can download from the European Ombudsman website. You can fill it in and send it in by e-mail. However, you do not need to use the form to make your complaint.

The address of the European Ombudsman is:

1, Avenue du President Robert Schuman
CS 30403
F-67001 Strasbourg Cedex
France

Tel: 00 33 388 172313
Fax: 00 33 388 179062
E-mail: eo@ombudsman.europa.eu
Website: www.ombudsman.europa.eu

What can the European Ombudsman do

The European Ombudsman will look into the complaint. Complaints are not usually handled confidentially, but if you ask for your complaint to be treated confidentially, this will be respected if at all possible.

The ombudsman will try to find a solution through conciliation to put matters right and satisfy the person making the complaint. If the attempt at conciliation fails, the European Ombudsman can make recommendations to the organisation to put the problem right. If the organisation does not accept the ombudsman's recommendations, the ombudsman can make a special report on the matter to the European Parliament.

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Financial Ombudsman Service

What can the Financial Ombudsman Service deal with

The Financial Ombudsman Service can deal with consumer complaints about most personal financial matters including:

  • financial advice
  • banking services
  • endowment policies
  • mortgages
  • personal pension plans
  • building society services
  • insurance.

The Financial Ombudsman Service is impartial and is free of charge. It can mainly deal with consumer complaints about companies which are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, although it can also deal with some unauthorised companies. You should contact the Financial Ombudsman Service consumer helpline directly to find out if it can deal with your complaint.

How to complain

Before you complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service, you must complain to the company using its formal complaints procedure. If you are not happy with the outcome, a complaint can be made to the Financial Ombudsman Service. There is a time limit for making the complaint. This is six months from when you get a final decision from the company about how it is going to deal with the matter. You can get a complaint form from the Financial Ombudsman Service website or from the consumer helpline. You should contact the Financial Ombudsman Service directly for information on how to make a complaint.

The address of the Financial Ombudsman Service is:

Financial Ombudsman Service
Exchange Tower
London
E14 9SR

Consumer helpline: 0800 023 4567 (free for people phoning from a landline) or 0300 123 9123 (free for mobile-phone users who pay a monthly charge for calls to numbers starting 01 or 02) (Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 8.00pm; Saturday from 9.00am to 1.00pm)
Email: complaint.info@financial-ombudsman.org.uk
Website: www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk

What the Financial Ombudsman can do

The Financial Ombudsman Service will look at the complaint and advise how it could be sorted out. If a satisfactory outcome is not achieved, the Financial Ombudsman Service will start a formal investigation. The final decision given at the end of this investigation is binding on the company. However, if you do not agree with it, you can take the complaint to court.

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What can the Legal Ombudsman deal with

The Legal Ombudsman deals with complaints about services provided by legal advisers. Legal advisers include:-

  • solicitors
  • barristers
  • legal executives
  • licensed conveyancers
  • law costs draftsmen
  • notaries
  • patent attorneys
  • probate practitioners
  • registered European lawyers
  • trade mark attorneys
  • any business responsible for these people.

What to do first

You must first try to resolve the complaint by discussing it with your legal adviser. All legal firms must have a written complaints procedure and the firm will tell you who to contact if you have a problem with the legal adviser handling the case. The legal adviser must give you a copy of the complaints procedure if you ask for it.

How to contact the Legal Ombudsman

If this does not resolve the matter, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman. The Legal Ombudsman has a telephone helpline which can advise you about whether they can deal with your complaint.

You must contact the Legal Ombudsman within six months of the last contact with your legal adviser. You must provide:

  • details of the name and address of your legal adviser
  • the date you told your legal adviser about your complaint
  • details of the response you received.

What can the Legal Ombudsman do

The Legal Ombudsman will first try to resolve your complaint informally. If this is not possible, they will investigate your complaint formally and you will have a chance to put your case in writing.

If you accept the Legal Ombudsman's decision, it will be final and binding on you.

If the Legal Ombudsman agrees that your legal adviser's service has been unsatisfactory, they can ask your law firm to do any of the following:-

  • apologise to you
  • give you back any documents you might need
  • pay you compensation for loss, inconvenience or distress (up to £50,000)
  • put things right if possible
  • refund or reduce legal fees.

If the legal adviser has broken any rules of professional conduct, the Legal Ombudsman may refer your complaint to the appropriate regulatory body. In extreme cases, the legal adviser could be disciplined or struck off which would mean they could no longer work as a legal adviser.

If your legal adviser has discriminated against you, you may be able to take legal action against them as well as complaining to the Legal Ombudsman. You will need to get legal advice. You may be able to get legal aid for this.

For more information about legal aid, see Help with legal costs.

You can contact the Legal Ombudsman at:

Legal Ombudsman
PO Box 6806
Wolverhampton
WV1 9WJ

Tel: 0300 555 0333 (Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm)
Minicom: 0300 555 1777
E-mail: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk
Website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk

You can find more information about how to make a complaint on the Legal Ombudsman's website at www.legalombudsman.org.uk.

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The Property Ombudsman

The Property Ombudsman deals with disputes involving estate agents, letting agents, residential managing agents, valuers, auctioneers and other property professionals.

All estate agents must belong to an approved redress scheme for dealing with complaints about the buying and selling of residential property. There are two approved schemes, one of which is run by The Property Ombudsman. You should check if your estate agent is a member of this scheme. If it isn't, you should check if it's a member of the other approved scheme which is run by the Ombudsman Services: Property.

If an estate agent has not joined one of these schemes, it can be fined. You can report an estate agent who hasn't joined a scheme to the local trading standards office.

There is currently no requirement for letting agents, residential managing agents, and other property professionals to register as members of a redress scheme.

What complaints can The Property Ombudsman deal with

The Property Ombudsman will investigate complaints about registered firms (scheme members) if you have lost money or suffered inconvenience because that firm has:

  • gone against your legal rights
  • treated you unfairly
  • been guilty of maladministration (including inefficiency and delay).

What complaints is The Property Ombudsman unable to deal with

The Property Ombudsman cannot deal with complaints if:

  • the complaint is not against a registered firm (scheme member)
  • the complaint is being or has been dealt with by a court
  • the complaint has not been raised in writing with the registered firm
  • the event you are complaining about happened more than twelve months before you formally complained to the firm or before the firm registered as a member of the scheme.

What to do first

You should first make a formal written complaint to the registered firm to start their internal complaints procedure.

If, at the end of this procedure, you are still not satisfied, you can contact The Property Ombudsman giving details of your complaint. You must do this within six months of the firm completing their internal complaints procedure.

How to complain

You can contact The Property Ombudsman giving full details of the complaint. The address of the Property Ombudsman is:

Milford House
43-55 Milford Street
Salisbury
Wiltshire
SP1 2BP

Tel: 01722 333 306
Fax: 01722 332 296
E-mail: admin@tpos.co.uk
Website: www.tpos.co.uk

What can The Property Ombudsman do

After considering the information provided by you and the registered firm, the Ombudsman will send a decision to both sides. The Ombudsman can grant compensation of up to £25,000. You can accept or reject the decision. If you accept it, legally the registered firm has to accept the decision.

If you decide to reject the Ombudsman’s decision, you can decide what other action (including legal action) you may wish to take.

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Ombudsman Services: Property

The Ombudsman Services: Property deals with complaints from consumers about estate agents, letting agents, residential managing agents, chartered surveying firms, surveyors and other property professionals.

All estate agents must belong to an approved redress scheme for dealing with complaints about the buying and selling of residential property. There are two approved schemes, one of which is run by the Ombudsman Services: Property. You should check if your estate agent is a member of this scheme. If it isn't, you should check if it's a member of the other approved scheme which is run by The Property Ombudsman.

If an estate agent has not joined one of these schemes, it can be fined. You can report an estate agent who hasn't joined a scheme to the local trading standards office.

There is currently no requirement for letting agents, residential managing agents, and other property professionals to register as members of a redress scheme.

What complaints can the Ombudsman Services: Property deal with

The Ombudsman Services: Property deals with complaints about unfair treatment, avoidable delays, failures to follow proper procedures, poor or incompetent service amongst other things. It can only look at your problem if one of its members is involved so it is important that you check this first. A list of its members is available on its website at: www.os-property.org.

What complaints is the Ombudsman Services: Property unable to deal with

The Ombudsman Services: Property will not deal with complaints that:

  • are not against a member firm
  • would be better dealt with by the courts or a dispute resolution scheme
  • involve a claim for more than £25,000
  • have been made more than six months after the company complained about has made its final offer
  • happened more than nine months before you complained to the company
  • are about a chartered surveyor or firm in England, Wales or Northern Ireland if the problem occurred before 1 June 2007
  • are about a chartered surveying firm or surveyor that provided a service to you in Scotland before1 October 2003
  • are about an estate agent if the problem occurred before 1 October 2008
  • are about a residential managing agent if the problem occurred before 1 November 2009.

What to do first

You should first use the internal complaints procedure of the member firm. There is a time limit to make the complaint. This is nine months from the event about which you are complaining.

If, at the end of this procedure, you are still not satisfied, you can complain to the Ombudsman Services: Property giving details of your complaint.

How to complain

You can contact the Ombudsman Services: Property at:  

Ombudsman Services: Property
PO Box 1021
Warrington
WA4 9FE

Tel: 0330 440 1634 (Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 5.00pm)
Textphone: 0330 440 1600
Email: enquiries@os-property.org
Website: www.ombudsman-services.org

What can the Ombudsman Services: Property do

After considering the information provided by you and the member firm, the Ombudsman Services: Property will send a decision to both sides. The Ombudsman can grant compensation of up to £25,000. You can accept or reject the decision. If you accept it, the member firm will keep to the final decision and take the action that the Ombudsman has asked for.

If you decide to reject the Ombudsman’s decision, you can decide what other action (including legal action) you may want to take.

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Housing Ombudsman

What complaints can the Housing Ombudsman deal with

The Housing Ombudsman can deal with complaints about maladministration by social housing landlords such as local authorities, housing associations, arms length management organisations (ALMOs), housing trusts and housing co-operatives. It can also deal with some larger private landlords who have joined the scheme voluntarily.

If you think your landlord has provided a poor service or managed your home badly, the Housing Ombudsman can look at your complaint.

What complaints can the Housing Ombudsman not deal with

The Housing Ombudsman will not normally deal with complaints which involve matters that have gone to court or which the Ombudsman decides are better dealt with by a court.

Also, if you completed your landlord’s complaints procedure more than six months before it reached the Ombudsman, they probably won’t be able to help with your complaint.

If the Housing Ombudsman does not have the power to consider the complaint, they will let you know and explain why.

What to do first

You should first go through your landlord's complaints procedure. If you are still unhappy when you have exhausted that procedure, you can refer your complaint to a 'designated person'. A designated person is an MP, local councillor (except county or parish councillors) or a designated tenant panel. If the designated person cannot help resolve the complaint, they can refer it to the Housing Ombudsman.

You can only complain directly to the Housing Ombudsman if:

  • you wait eight weeks after exhausting your landlord's complaints procedure, or
  • the Housing Ombudsman is satisfied that a designated person either refused to refer your complaint, or agreed for you to complain to them directly.

More information about designated persons and tenant panels is available from the Housing Ombudsman service website at www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk.

What can the Housing Ombudsman do

If the Housing Ombudsman agrees that there are grounds for complaint, they may ask for more information from you.

The Housing Ombudsman will look at what the landlord did about a problem after you told them about it. They will consider, for example, whether the landlord followed the law, their own policies and procedures and good practice. All decisions are based on evidence of what happened and what the landlord did.

The Ombudsman’s decision in a case is called a ‘determination’. They may order the landlord to do something to put things right. The Ombudsman can order your landlord to pay compensation for anything that has been lost because of what the landlord has done wrong. They can also order the landlord to take a particular action to put things right, so that the same problems will not happen again, or so that the landlord will manage things better in the future.

Landlords generally carry out what the Ombudsman orders or recommends.

More information about the Housing Ombudsman is available from its website at www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk.

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Prisons and Probation Ombudsman

What complaints can the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman deal with

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman can consider complaints about most aspects of a prisoner’s treatment in prison, including disciplinary hearings. They also deal with complaints by people on probation. The ombudsman can consider whether a decision taken by the Prison Service or National Probation Service was correct and whether the proper procedures were followed in making the decision. This includes action taken by prison staff employed by private companies, probation officers and members of the Independent Monitoring Board. The ombudsman is also responsible for investigating the deaths of all prisoners and residents of probation hostels and immigration detention accommodation.

What complaints is the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman unable to deal with

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman cannot consider complaints about the actions of other agencies, for example, the police, courts or the Immigration Department.

What to do first

Before you make a complaint to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, you must first have used the internal complaints procedures. If you are not satisfied with the reply or if the Prison Service Headquarters or Area Probation Board has not replied within six weeks, a complaint can be made to the ombudsman.

How to complain

There is a time limit for making a complaint. This is one month from getting a reply from the Prison Service Headquarters or Area Probation Board. If you have not received a reply, you can make a complaint any time after six weeks. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has discretion to investigate complaints made outside the time limit, for example, if you were ill and unable to make the complaint earlier.

To complain, send a letter to the ombudsman. If you are a prisoner, you should send the letter in a sealed envelope marked ‘Prisoners' confidential access’. A prisoner should include their prison number in the letter of complaint. Help and support can be given by a friend, relative or adviser. The complaint should be sent to:

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman
Ashley House
2 Monck Street
London
SW1P 2BQ

Tel: 020 7276 2876 or 08450 0107938
Fax: 020 7276 2860
E-mail: mail@ppo.gsi.gov.uk
Website: www.ppo.gov.uk

What the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will do

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will usually get copies of any relevant papers from the Prison Service or National Probation Service. They will treat the complaint as confidential as far as is possible. However, in some cases, they will interview you and the other people involved.

The ombudsman will send the decision and the reasons for it in writing to both you and the Prison Service or National Probation Service. You will usually get a reply from the ombudsman within eight weeks from when you made the complaint. If the investigation takes longer than twelve weeks, you will get monthly progress reports from the ombudsman.

If the ombudsman upholds your complaint, they will recommend action that the Prison Service or National Probation Service should take.

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Citizens Advice

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