The Northern Ireland Court Service

Quarterly Review of the Complaints Process for the Northern Ireland Court Service October 2005 – December 2005

Complaints statistics

Introduction

The Purpose of this report is to provide information on the complaints received throughout the Court Service for the period October – December 2005.

Throughout the Court Service there was a total of 40 complaints received during the period October – December 2005

Breakdown by location of the number of complaints received in the Northern Ireland Court Service During the period October - December 2005

Breakdown of how complaints were received in the Northern Ireland Court Service During the period October - December 2005

 

Courthouses

In the three-month period from October – December 2005 there were a total of 25 complaints received at 11 courthouses throughout the Court Service.  The  remaining 10 courthouses recorded no complaints within this time period. 

All of the complaints received during this quarter were answered within the 15-day timescale.

The four most frequently used method of making a complaint was by putting it in writing (28%) followed by making a complaint in person  (24%). The least frequent methods of making a complaint were as follows: making a complaint over the telephone (20%) and filling out a complaint form (20%) or comment card (20%) in the Courthouse.

 

Breakdown of How Complaints were received in the Northern Ireland Court Service

The court office that received the most complaints during the period was Coleraine court office, which received 6 complaints in total, the RCJ which received 5, then Laganside Courts where 3 were received, followed by Enniskillen, Ballymena and Newry court offices which each received 2 complaints during the period October - December 2005.

 

Breakdown of complaints by category

The category that received the highest number of complaints was regarding accommodation, 6 complaints in total were received in this category.  These were broken down as follows:
2 relating to Ballymena court office, 2 relating to Coleraine and one relating to Antrim and Dungannon court offices.

There were 4 complaints received in this quarter relating to catering (Belfast 2 & Coleraine 2).  These ranged from poor tea/coffee facilities to vending machines not working properly. 
There were also 4 complaints which were the result of administration errors.  Each of the following courthouses received 1 complaint each which fell into this category: Craigavon, Coleraine, Enniskillen and the RCJ.  The 4 complaints received ranged from: the incorrect number of Penalty points noted on an order book sheet, too many small claims forms were sent out (considered a waste of public funds), the wording on a fine card in Coleraine.

3 complaints received in this quarter were regarding both delays and court service staff.     There were 2 complaints received in Newry relating to the waiting time for jury panel members and 1 received in Coleraine relating to the length of time waiting prior to the case actually being called.
2 complaints were received in the RCJ relating to Court Service staff and their attitude; the third received in Lisburn which referred to incorrect advice given on court practice.

From the 25 complaints received, 1 fell into the ‘Other’ Category. 
This entailed a complaint from a Solicitor who thought it would be better to have the Youth Court and the Domestic Court at Enniskillen split into 2 completely separate sittings.

 

Central Complaints

During the period October - December there were 8 complaints received centrally in the Information Centre: 75% of these were answered within the target time of 15 working days. 

5 of the complaints were received in the form of a letter, 2 via the email system and one was received over the telephone.

1 of the complaints referred to another organisation’ (Office of the Industrial Tribunal and Fair Employment Tribunal), 1 relating to an administrative error, 2 referring to Court Service Staff and 4 fell into the ‘other’ category.  These ranged from:

 

Court Funds Office

There were 2 complaints received in the Court Funds Office during the period October – December 2005.  Both complaints were the result of administration errors.   One complaint was received via the email system and the other by letter - both were answered within the 15 day timescale.

 

Enforcement of Judgments Office

The Enforcement of Judgments Office received 5 complaints during the period    October – December 2005.   2 of these related to the delays in enforcement action being taken, 2 were the result of administration errors and one referring to information available. All 5 complaints were made in writing; 2 were answered within the 15 day timescale and 3 are still currently ongoing.

 

Annex A

Number of complaints Received by Courthouse

The following courthouses provided “Nil” returns:

 

Annex B

Category of Complaints received in the Northern Ireland Court Service during the period October - December 2005