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Complaints Procedure

How to make a complaint

The Department of Justice is committed to providing a high standard of service at all times. However, if you are not happy with the service you receive from staff in the Department of Justice, we will try to address your complaint in a professional and timely manner.

Making a Complaint

The Department’s Complaints Procedure is designed to address any specific concerns you may have that relate to the quality of customer service provided by our staff. For example, these may include:

  • Maladministration;
  • Delays in receiving information/responses within accepted timeframes;
  • Difficulty in contacting the correct office, branch or person;
  • Incorrect information or guidance issued by the Department; or
  • Attitude and conduct of staff.

The procedure set out below explains how you can make a formal complaint about the quality of our services. Some complaints can be resolved informally and you may wish to contact the relevant business area in the first instance to discuss your complaint.

Please note there are separate complaints procedures in place for Northern Ireland Courts & Tribunals Service, Youth Justice Agency, Forensic Science NI, Access NI,  Legal Profession and for Prisoners and Operational issues within the NI Prison Service. If you wish to contact any of them directly you can use the following links:

Formal Procedures – Step 1

If you wish to make a formal complaint about the service provided by the Department of Justice, you should write to us giving full details of the complaint. We will arrange for your complaint to be investigated and provide you with a full written reply within 15 working days of receipt. If a full reply cannot be given within this timescale, you will be advised of progress and told when you can expect a full response.

When making a complaint please provide as much information as possible along with contact details, such as your name, telephone number, email address and / or postal address.

You can contact us by:

  • E-mail: standardsunit@dojni.x.gsi.gov.uk
  • Writing to Standards Unit, Information Services Division, Block 5, Knockview Buildings, Stormont Estate, Belfast BT4 3SL.

Formal Procedures – Step 2

If you are not satisfied with our response to your complaint, you may contact the Department’s Complaints Officer and ask for your complaint to be escalated.  The matter will be reviewed by a Line Manager of higher rank than the investigating officer, within the relevant business area who was not involved in the previous investigation.  The line manager will investigate the complaint fully; taking note of any additional comments raised by the complainant, and will provide a full response within the timescales set out in Step 1.

Formal Procedures – Step 3

If you are still dissatisfied with the response to your complaint, you can ask that your complaint be escalated to the final stage.  At that point your complaint will be reviewed by the Head of the Division / business area concerned with your complaint, or if they have been involved with the handling of your complaint then the matter will be dealt with by the responsible Director. If a conflict of interest arises within the investigating Division an alternative Head of Division will take over the investigation. Once again a full response will be provided within the timescales set out in Steps 1 and 2.

The Assembly Ombudsman

If you remain dissatisfied with the Department’s final response to your complaint, you can ask your MLA to refer your case to the Northern Ireland Assembly Ombudsman, in any of the following ways;

  • In Writing:
The Ombudsman
Freepost BEL 1478
Belfast BT1 6BR
The Ombudsman’s Office
Progressive House
33 Wellington Place
Belfast BT1 6HN

The Northern Ireland Assembly Ombudsman provides a free and independent service and it is generally expected that you will have exhausted the full extent of the Department’s complaints procedure before your case would be considered.

Please remember that your case must be referred to the Ombudsman by your MLA, before it can be investigated.