Independent Assessor of Complaints
The Independent Assessor of Complaints (IAC) operates independently from the CPS and is responsible for the handling and investigation of complaints from members of the public in relation to the quality of the service provided by the CPS and its adherence to its published complaints procedure.
Who is the Independent Assessor of Complaints (IAC) and what do they do?
The current IAC is Moi Ali, who has a background in complaints and independent review. Her role is to:
- Investigate service complaints about the CPS following conclusion of its internal complaints process (see below for definition of a service complaint)
- Look at whether the CPS properly followed the Victims’ Code guidance on the services that must be provided to victims, and
- Check that the CPS has followed its complaints procedure.
If you have already complained to the CPS and remain dissatisfied with the outcome of your service complaint following Stages 1 and 2 of the complaints procedure, you can ask the IAC to investigate.
The IAC is completely independent of the CPS, providing an impartial service you can have confidence in. This means that she does not take the CPS’s side, but instead looks at the facts and reaches a fair, independent decision based on the merits of the case.
The IAC’s aim is to:
- right individual wrongs and;
- drive improvements in the service provided by the CPS to reduce the likelihood of similar complaints arising in the future.
You can read the IAC’s Terms of Reference below.
What the IAC can and cannot help with
The IAC can only consider service complaints, not legal ones.
Service complaints concern the service standards and conduct of CPS staff. Here are some examples of service complaints:
- The way you were treated by CPS staff
- You were given wrong information by the CPS
- The CPS breached its obligations under the Victims’ Code
- There were unnecessary delays in responding to your complaints, or the CPS did not answer all of your complaint
Legal complaints are complaints relating to legal decisions made by the CPS. Here are some examples of legal decisions:
- How the CPS applied the Code for Crown Prosecutors in deciding whether to prosecute
- Which witnesses were called at the trial
- What evidence was used during a trial
Sometimes it can be difficult to work out the difference between a service and a legal complaint, and quite often they can be part-service and part-legal. For example, the CPS may fail to follow the proper procedure when taking a legal decision. The failure to follow the procedure would be a service complaint, but the legal decision taken would be a legal complaint. In those circumstances, the IAC could only investigate the service elements (the failure to follow the correct procedure).
The IAC cannot consider service complaints relating to live or ongoing criminal or civil proceedings. You can escalate your complaint to the IAC once those proceedings are completed.
What to do before you contact the IAC
As this is the final stage in the CPS process for unresolved service complaints, the IAC usually expects you to complain to the CPS first. This is so that the CPS has the chance to look into your concerns and, where needed, put things right for you. However, if you have contacted the CPS and have not received any response within its stated timescales, you may come to the IAC with a service complaint about how the CPS failed to handle your original complaint.
Before sending your complaint to the IAC, please make sure that you are able to tick all of the following boxes. If you can’t, the IAC may be unable to accept your complaint.
- I have already completed Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the CPS complaints procedure, and I am still not satisfied with the response
- I am referring my complaint to the IAC within one month of the Stage 2 letter from the CPS (or there is a very good reason why I have been unable to do so within that timescale and I have explained this to the IAC)
- My complaint is a service complaint and not a legal one (see above for definitions)
- I have explained to the IAC why I am dissatisfied with the response from the CPS
- I have explained to the IAC what outcome I would like (for example, an apology; an explanation as to why the CPS took so long to look at my complaint; to get answers to my unanswered questions; for the CPS to review its policies or procedures, guidance or standards to avoid the same things happening again.)
How do I contact the IAC?
Simply write or email explaining why you are dissatisfied with the response from the CPS and what you would like the IAC to do about it. Please don’t just state that you are unhappy: explain why you remain unhappy. For example, it may be that the CPS has misunderstood what you were complaining about; has made an important mistake when replying to your complaint; or has not followed its own procedure when handling your complaint. Your explanations help the IAC to understand what is important to you and what you would like her to do about it.
There is no need to send copies of the complaints correspondence. The IAC’s office will request that from the CPS and will contact you if the IAC needs anything more from you.
Independent Assessor of Complaints
c/o Crown Prosecution Service
102 Petty France
What happens next?
- The IAC’s office will acknowledge receipt of your complaint and explain the next steps.
- If the IAC carries out an investigation, she will send you a copy of her report within 40 days of accepting your complaint.
- If there are any further steps that you can take, she will explain them.
- She will share her report with the Director of Public Prosecutions, as well as the Chief Crown Prosecutor of the CPS Area that is the subject of the complaint. This means that your complaint will be known about at the very top of the CPS.