The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (the Commission) works to ensure that the human rights of everyone in Northern Ireland are fully protected in law, policy and practice.
We want to treat everyone fairly and properly, but things can sometimes go wrong.
If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of the customer services provided by us, we want to hear from you straight away. We welcome this is an important aid to improving what we do and may help us to deal with something we would otherwise overlook.
You can be expected to be treated with courtesy, respect and fairness at all times. We expect that you will also treat our staff dealing with your complaint with the same courtesy, respect and fairness. As a first step you may want to discuss the issue with the person responsible. If you do not want to do that, or if that does not sort out the problem, you have the right to complain.
The Complaints procedure covers everyone who works for the Commission (such as staff, volunteers, interns and contractors).
What is a Complaint?
A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction, whether justified or not.
This Complaints Procedure is designed to address any specific concerns individuals have that relate to the quality of customer service provided by the Commission staff.
This procedure covers complaints about:
- The standard of service provided by the Commission; and
- The behaviour of the Commission or staff.
- This could include:-
- Delays in reviewing information and providing responses within acceptable or reasonable timeframes;
- Difficulty in contacting the correct staff member;
- The attitude displayed and conduct of Commission staff;
- The lack of appropriate action by Commission staff;
- Incorrect information or guidance given by Commission staff.
This Procedure does not cover all dissatisfaction with the Commission and its work:-
- Dissatisfaction with Commission Policy;
- Decisions relating to the statutory discretion of the Commission in the use of its powers – for example those relating to applications for legal assistance or relating the exercise of the Commission’s statutory discretion to initiate investigations – these can be challenged legally in other ways;
- Matters that have already been fully investigated through the Complaints Procedure;
- Anonymous complaints.
Please note this Procedure does not cover complaints regarding responses to Subject Access or Freedom of Information Requests. These are dealt with separately following the Information Commissioner’s Office guidance.
Time limits for Raising Complaints
To help us resolve your complaint or concern you can either complete the attached Complaint Form, or write to the Commission clearly stating that it is a complaint. The normal time limits we apply for raising complaints are:
- Within 3 months of the last action causing the complaint
If you require a reasonable adjustment because you are a disabled person and unable to contact us in writing please contact the Chief Executive who will arrange for your complaint to be registered and investigated. The Chief Executive will also arrange for this leaflet to be produced in other formats as required.
All complaints received will be dealt with confidentially and in accordance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998. Any personal information given by you will be used only for the purposes of your complaint, subject to the need to disclose information as required for lawful purposes and/or as a result of and statutory, legal or parliamentary obligations placed on the Commission.
We publish information on the numbers of complaints we receive in the Commission’s Annual Report and Accounts.
Principles and Standards
When dealing with a complaint, the Commission will ensure that it follows the principles that have been developed by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman ‘Principles of Good Complaint Handling’.
How will my complaint be dealt with?
We will write within five working days to let you know that we are dealing with your complaint. It will be investigated by the Chief Executive, who may need to write to you or call you, or meet you, to get more information. We welcome comments as an opportunity to review and, where possible, improve our services. If we have got something wrong, we will try to put it right. We will try to give you a full response within three weeks. If it takes longer, we will let you know within that period what action has been taken and tell you when we expect to provide you with a full response.
What if I am not satisfied?
If you are not satisfied with the Chief Executive’s response, let us know within three weeks. Your complaint will then be passed to the Chair of the Commission’s Audit and Risk Management Committee, who will look again at all the information, and get back to you within a further three weeks.
Is there anyone else I can complain to?
Please give us a chance to put things right first. But if we can’t help or you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of your complaint, you have the right to complain about us to:
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
47 -51 Mosley Street
Telephone 0345 015 4033 (Monday – Thursday 8.30am–5.00pm and Friday 8.30am – 12noon)