Quarterly Complaints Bulletin October – December 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 October - December 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 asterisks in Table 1. This report includes complaints for those tribunals, whereas reports prior to April 2010 did not.

Summary

A total of 37 complaints were recorded, however 4 relating to a judicial decision [the Courts and Tribunals Service cannot deal with complaints against judicial decisions] and 2 relating to other organisations fall outside the scope of this report.

The graph below illustrates that 31 complaints were received during this quarter. The number of complaints received has decreased by 31% when compared with the quarter ending September 2010 [45] and has decreased by 50% when compared with the same quarter last year [62].

Total Complaints Received

Oct-Dec 09 Jan-Mar 10 Apr-Jun 10 Jul-Sep 10 Oct-Dec 10
62 47 80 45 31

Following investigation 18 complaints (58%) 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 Oct-Dec 09 Jan-Mar 10 Apr-Jun 10 Jul-Sep 10 Oct-Dec 10
Antrim 1 0 0 1 0
Armagh 0 0 0 1 0
Ballymena 0 0 0 0 0
Bangor 4 1 0 0 0
Care Tribunal*     0 0 0
Central Complaints 26 11 5 4 2
Civil Processing Centre 0 1 0 0 0
Coleraine 0 1 1 0 3
Communications Group 0 0 0 0 2
Coroners Service 0 2 3 0 1
Court Funds Office 0 1 3 1 1
Craigavon 0 1 2 0 2
CICAP*     1 0 0
Customer Services Centre 3 3 23 11 1
Downpatrick 4 4 2 2 0
Dungannon 1 2 1 1 1
Enforcement of Judgments Office 7 5 8 4 3
Enniskillen 0 1 1 0 0
Human Resource Unit 0 0 1 0 0
Laganside Courts 4 3 8 5 5
Lands Tribunal*     0 0 0
Larne 0 0 0 0 0
Limavady 0 0 0 0 1
Lisburn 0 0 0 1 0
Londonderry 4 2 1 4 1
Magherafelt 0 0 1 1 0
Mental Health Review Tribunal*     0 1 0
Newry 2 0 1 2 0
Newtownards 2 5 4 3 2
Northern Ireland Traffic Penalty Tribunal*     0 0 0
Northern Ireland Valuation Tribunal*     0 0 0
OSSC*     0 0 0
Omagh 0 1 2 0 2
Pensions Appeal Commissioners*     0 0 0
Pensions Appeal Tribunals*     1 0 0
Royal Courts of Justice 4 3 11 2 3
SENDIST*     0 1 1
Strabane 0 0 0 0 0
Total number of complaints 62 47 80 45 31

* 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

  Oct-Dec 09 Jan-Mar 10 Apr-Jun 10 Jul-Sep 10 Oct-Dec 10
Accommodation 12 10 7 6 2
Administration Error 4 5 4 4 6
Catering 3 3 3 0 1
Court Service Staff 5 6 3 3 3
Delays 7 6 11 4 6
Driving Licence 0 0 11 4 1
Fees 0 0 1 0 0
ICOS 0 0 0 0 0
Information Available 2 3 0 1 1
Jury Expenses 0 0 7 0 0
Jury Service 2 1 4 3 0
Juryline 0 0 1 0 0
Online Services 1 0 2 3 1
Post Mortem 0 0 2 0 0
Resource Staff 1 0 3 0 0
Summons Servers 2 0 1 2 2
Telephone Manner 0 0 0 1 0
TV Licensing 0 0 2 0 0
Website 9 0 0 2 2
Other 14 13 18 12 6
Total 62 47 80 45 31

The following 4 categories account for the majority [68%] of complaints recorded.

A breakdown of the 4 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
Administration Error Delays Court Service Staff Other
Central Complaints 0 0 0 1
Coleraine 1 1 1 0
Communications Group 1 0 0 0
Coroners Service 0 0 0 1
Court Funds Office 0 1 0 0
Craigavon 0 2 0 0
Customer Services Centre 0 0 0 1
Dungannon 0 0 1 0
Enforcement of Judgments Office 1 1 0 1
Laganside Courts 1 1 0 0
Limavady 1 0 0 0
Newtownards 0 0 0 1
Royal Courts of Justice 1 0 1 1
Total 6 6 3 6

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

Complaints Upheld

Of the 31 complaints received a total of 18 (58%) were upheld.  The NICTS were not at fault for the remaining 13 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 letter (35%) was the most popular method used by customers, followed by email (23%).

Table 4: Breakdown of how complaints were received

  Oct-Dec 09 Jan-Mar 10 Apr-Jun 10 Jul-Sep 10 Oct-Dec 10
Comment Card 8 5 0 1 1
Complaints Form 2 4 2 1 3
Email 19 9 14 9 7
Fax 0 2 0 0 0
In Person 5 2 12 3 3
Letter 21 20 25 15 11
Telephone 7 5 27 16 6
Total 62 47 80 45 31

Response Time

During this quarter all the complaints were answered within the 15 working day turnaround.

Communications Group
February 2011

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