Quarterly Complaints Bulletin July – September 2010

Introduction

The purpose of this report is to provide an analysis of complaints recorded across the Courts and Tribunals Service (NICTS) during the quarter July - September 2010.  For comparison purposes, data from the previous 12 months is also provided.  The NICTS has assumed administrative responsibility for a number of NI departmental tribunals, these tribunals have been identified with an asterisk in Table 1.  This report includes complaints for those tribunals, whereas reports prior to April 2010 did not.

Summary

A total of 52 complaints were recorded, however 4 relating to a judicial decision [the Courts and Tribunals Service cannot deal with complaints against judicial decisions] and 3 relating to other organisations fall outside the scope of this report.

The table below shows that 45 complaints were received during this quarter. The number of complaints received has decreased by 44% when compared with the quarter ending June 2010 [80] and has decreased by 13% when compared with the same quarter last year [52].

Total Complaints Received

Jul-Sep 09 Oct-Dec 09 Jan-Mar 10 Apr-Jun 10 Jul-Sep 10
52 62 47 80 45

Following investigation 17 complaints (38%) were upheld.

Breakdown by venue

A breakdown of the complaints recorded by venue is illustrated in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Breakdown of complaints received by venue

Location Jul-Sep 09 Oct-Dec 09 Jan-Mar 10 Apr-Jun 10 Jul-Sep 10
Antrim 0 1 0 0 1
Armagh 3 0 0 0 1
Ballymena 0 0 0 0 0
Bangor 8 4 1 0 0
Care Tribunal*       0 0
Central Complaints 21 26 11 5 4
Civil Processing Centre 0 0 1 0 0
Coleraine 0 0 1 1 0
Communications Group 0 0 0 0 0
Coroners Service 1 0 2 3 0
Court Funds Office 0 0 1 3 1
Craigavon 4 0 1 2 0
CICAP*       1 0
Customer Services Centre 0 3 3 23 11
Downpatrick 2 4 4 2 2
Dungannon 0 1 2 1 1
Enforcement of Judgments Office 6 7 5 8 4
Enniskillen 0 0 1 1 0
Human Resource Unit 0 0 0 1 0
Laganside Courts 3 4 3 8 5
Lands Tribunal*       0 0
Larne 0 0 0 0 0
Limavady 0 0 0 0 0
Lisburn 0 0 0 0 1
Londonderry 1 4 2 1 4
Magherafelt 0 0 0 1 1
Mental Health Review Tribunal*       0 1
Newry 1 2 0 1 2
Newtownards 0 2 5 4 3
Northern Ireland Traffic Penalty Tribunal*       0 0
Northern Ireland Valuation Tribunal*       0 0
OSSC*       0 0
Omagh 0 0 1 2 0
Pensions Appeal Commissioners*       0 0
Pensions Appeal Tribunals*       1 0
Royal Courts of Justice 2 4 3 11 2
SENDIST*       0 1
Strabane 0 0 0 0 0
Total number of complaints 52 62 47 80 45

* denotes a NI departmental tribunal for which NICTS has assumed administrative responsibility.

Complaints received centrally through Communications Group, where possible, have now been broken down and allocated to the relevant office or courthouse.

Most complaints related to the following venues:

Breakdown by Category of Complaint

A breakdown of complaints received by category over the last 12 months is illustrated in Table 2 below.

Table 2:Breakdown of complaints by category

  Jul-Sep 09 Oct-Dec 09 Jan-Mar 10 Apr-Jun 10 Jul-Sep 10
Accommodation 10 12 10 7 6
Administration Error 6 4 5 4 4
Catering 0 3 3 3 0
Court Service Staff 3 5 6 3 3
Delays 6 7 6 11 4
Driving Licence 0 0 0 11 4
Fees 0 0 0 1 0
ICOS 0 0 0 0 0
Information Available 1 2 3 0 1
Jury Expenses 0 0 0 7 0
Jury Service 2 2 1 4 3
Juryline 0 0 0 1 0
Online Services 5 1 0 2 3
Post Mortem 0 0 0 2 0
Resource Staff 1 1 0 3 0
Summons Servers 1 2 0 1 2
Telephone Manner 0 0 0 0 1
TV Licensing 0 0 0 2 0
Website 2 9 0 0 2
Other 15 14 13 18 12
Total 52 62 47 80 45

The following 5 categories account for the majority [67%] of complaints recorded.

A breakdown of the 5 main categories recorded by venue is illustrated in Table 3 below.

Table 3: Breakdown of main categories of complaints received

Business Area Category of Complaint
Accommodation Administration Error Delays Driving Licence Other
Antrim 0 1 0 0 0
Court Funds Office 0 0 0 0 1
Customer Services Centre 0 0 0 1 6
Dungannon 0 0 0 0 1
Enforcement of Judgments Office 0 1 3 0 0
Laganside Courts 1 1 0 2 0
Lisburn 0 0 0 0 1
Londonderry 1 0 0 0 2
Magherafelt 0 0 0 1 0
Mental Health Review Tribunal 0 0 0 0 1
Newry 1 0 0 0 0
Newtownards 2 1 0 0 0
Royal Courts of Justice 0 0 1 0 0
SENDIST 1 0 0 0 0
Total 6 4 4 4 12

The nature of the complaints included in the ‘Other’ category are as follows:

Complaints Upheld

Of the 45 complaints received a total of 17 (38%) were upheld.  The NICTS were not at fault for the remaining 28 complaints.

The main categories of upheld complaints related to:

Follow Up Action

The follow up action taken in respect of complaints upheld has been categorised into the three areas below:

As a result of the complaints received these are the actions we have taken:

Follow Up Questionnaires

The NICTS issues a follow up questionnaire to find out how satisfied our customers are with the way in which their complaint was handled.

During this quarter one follow up questionnaire was returned, with the customer expressing satisfaction with the way their complaint was handled.

How Complaints are Received

During this quarter, registering a complaint by telephone (36%) was the most popular method used by customers, followed by letter (33%).  The increase in complaints made by telephone may be due to new recording methods for registering both formal and informal complaints.

Table 4: Breakdown of how complaints were received

  Jul-Sep 09 Oct-Dec 09 Jan-Mar 10 Apr-Jun 10 Jul-Sep 10
Comment Card 3 8 5 0 1
Complaints Form 1 2 4 2 1
Email 12 19 9 14 9
Fax 0 0 2 0 0
In Person 12 5 2 12 3
Letter 16 21 20 25 15
Telephone 8 7 5 27 16
Total 52 62 47 80 45

Response Time

During this quarter 82% (37) of complaints were answered within the 15 working day turnaround with 8 complaints falling outside the timescale.

Communications Group
January 2011


Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service
Laganside House
23-27 Oxford Street
Belfast
BT1 3LA
www.courtsni.gov.uk