The Northern Ireland Court Service

Quarterly Review of the Complaints Process for the Northern Ireland Court Service April 2006 – June 2006

Introduction

The purpose of this report is to provide an overview on the complaints received throughout the Court Service for the period April – June 2006.

During the period April – June 2006, there were a total of 48 complaints received throughout the Court Service.  Of the 48 received, 4 related to an organisation other than the Court Service reducing the total number to 44. For the purpose of this report our statistical analysis will only include those complaints which relate directly to the Court Service.

There are 5 main groups from which we receive quarterly complaints returns for statistical  analysis (Annex A). The 44 recorded complaints were received across 3 groups, Corporate Complaints, Courthouses and the EJO.  The Information Centre and Court Funds Office both recorded a nil return for this period.  A breakdown of the number of complaints received by location can be seen below.  Note: HRU no longer wish to contribute to this analysis as they do not directly receive complaints from the public.

Breakdown by location of the number of complaints received in the Northern Ireland court service between April-June 2006

In the 3 month period from April – June 2006, 95% of the complaints were answered within the 15 day turnaround time.

Number of complaints answered within the 15 day turnaround time

Complaints can be made by various methods, a breakdown of which can be seen in the chart below.

Breakdown of how complaints were received in the Court Service between April-June 2006

Complaints received relate to a variety of issues.  A breakdown of the categories of complaints received can be seen below.

Category of complaints received in the Court Service during the period April-June 2006

Courthouses

There are 21 courthouses throughout Northern Ireland.  In the 3 month period from April – June 2006, there was a total of 34 complaints received at 13 courthouses throughout the Court Service.  The remaining 8 courthouses provided a “Nil Return” within this period.  (A list of these courthouses can be found at Annex B).

Number of complaints received in each courthouse between April-June 2006

One of the 34 complaints was not answered within the 15-day timescale.  This was as a result of the original complaint being misplaced.

The most frequently used method of making a complaint was in person (29%) followed by writing a letter (26%). A full breakdown of the methods used to make a complaint can be seen below.

Method of making a complaint at courthouses during the period April-June 2006

Breakdown of complaints received in courthouses by category

The total amount of complaints received at courthouses was 34 complaints.  The court office that received the most complaints during this period was Newtownards, which received 8 complaints in total, followed by the RCJ which received 5. (A full breakdown can be found at Annex B).

The category which received the highest number of complaints in courthouses was regarding administrative errors – 8 complaints in total were received at courthouses.  These were broken down as follows: 3 Craigavon, 2 each in Belfast Combined Courts and Newtownards and finally the RCJ received 1.

There were 8 complaints received in this quarter relating to Court Service staff.  These were broken down as follows Omagh 3, Enniskillen 2, Belfast Combined Courts, Banbridge; RCJ all received 1 complaint each.

There were 7 complaints received in this quarter relating to accommodation.  Newtownards courthouse received 6 of these complaints with Bangor courthouse receiving 1.

There were 4 complaints received in this quarter relating to delays, each of the following courthouse received one complaint each; Coleraine, Belfast Combined Courts, RCJ and Londonderry.

There were 2 complaints received that were in the category of “other”, one of these was regarding foul odours in the staff areas of the RCJ.  The remaining complaint was received in Dungannon and was regarding the union flag not being raised on a designated flag flying day.

Corporate Complaints

During the period April – June 2006 there were a total of 7 complaints received centrally in the Information Centre: 6 of these were answered within the target time of 15 working days.  The remaining complaint was not answered within the target time due to additional background information being required.

4 of the complaints were received via letter, 2 were made using the complaints form and 1 was made via email.

The breakdown of the categories of corporate complaints received in the Information Centre can be seen below.

Category of corporate complaints received in the Information Centre during the period April-June 2006

Enforcement of Judgments

The EJO received 3 complaints during this period.   All of the complaints were answered within the 15 day turnaround time.  All 3 complaints were made via letter.

Two of the complaints concerned administrative errors and the remaining complaint was regarding delays.

Court Funds Office

This office recorded a “Nil Return” within this period.

Information Centre

This office recorded “Nil Return” within this period.

Quarterly comparison

The following section shows a comparison of complaints received this quarter (April – June) with the previous quarter (Jan – Mar).

Comparison of total amount of complaints received by quarter

 

Comparison of complaints that are answered within the target time of 15 days

 

Comparison of complaints received by category per quarter

 

Comparison of the total amount of complaints received at the courthouse per quarter

 

Comparison of the complaints received in the EJO per quarter

 

Comparison of the complaints received corporately by quarter

 

Annex A

The 5 main groups from which we receive complaints returns for statistical analysis are listed below.

Enforcement of Judgments Office
Court Funds Office
Corporate Complaints
Information Centre
21 Courthouses:

 

Annex B

The following courthouses provided a “Nil Return”

Armagh
Downpatrick
Larne
Lisburn
Limavady
Magherafelt
Newry
Strabane

 

Number of complaints received by courthouse

Antrim: 1
Ballymena: 1
Banbridge: 1
Coleraine: 1
Craigavon: 3
Enniskillen: 2
Belfast: 4
Newtownards: 9
Omagh: 3
RCJ: 5
Londonderry: 1
Dungannon: 1
Bangor: 2