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

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

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.

Checklist

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.

By post

Moi Ali
Independent Assessor of Complaints
c/o Crown Prosecution Service
102 Petty France
London
SW1H 9EA

By email

Email: IAComplaints@cps.gov.uk

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.

Independent Assessor of Complaints - Terms of Reference Toggle accordion

1. Introduction

1.1    The Independent Assessor of Complaints for the CPS (IAC) reviews complaints in respect of the quality of service provided by the CPS and its adherence to its published complaints procedure and the complaints aspects of the Victims' Code.

2. Role and Remit

2.1    The remit of the IAC is to consider service complaints at Stage 3 of the CPS Feedback and Complaints procedure. Service complaints can be defined as 'any complaint relating to the service standards and conduct of CPS staff'. Examples of service complaints include being treated rudely or unfairly by staff members, failure to provide the correct information, or unnecessary delays in either the service provided or in responding to complaints.

2.2    The IAC cannot review complaints that are solely about prosecution decisions. Legal complaints are only considered at Stages 1 and 2 of the procedure. Victims who wish to exercise their right to request a review of decisions not to bring charges, discontinue proceedings, or offer no evidence in cases, should use the Victims' Right to Review scheme (VRR).

2.3    The IAC will not consider service complaints relating to live or ongoing proceedings (whether criminal or civil) until those proceedings are completed. This includes cases that qualify under VRR but have not yet exhausted all stages of the scheme.

2.4    The IAC can consider the service elements of 'hybrid' complaints: for example, those that embrace both legal and service aspects.

2.5    Complaints must be referred to the IAC for review following the completion of Stages 1 and 2 of the complaints procedure, if the complainant remains dissatisfied. Complaints that are linked to ongoing civil proceedings must be deferred until the conclusion of all civil proceedings.

2.6    Complainants can also refer complaints to the IAC directly where the CPS has not adhered to its complaints procedure although Stages 1 and 2 may not have been completed. This could include circumstances where complaints handling at Stages 1 and 2 gives rise to further complaint.

2.7    Complaints must be submitted within one calendar month of the Stage 2 response. However, the IAC has discretion in relation to this time limit where there are exceptional factors.

2.8    The IAC also acts as the guardian of the CPS Feedback and Complaints policy, overseeing the process and supporting the CPS to develop best practice and improved service standards for victims and witnesses. In that capacity, the IAC will review samples of cases that have not reached Stage 3 to assess the quality and timeliness of Stage 1 and 2 responses. The audit will involve a dip sample of all complaints to provide an annual update to the CPS Board, and to further develop internal guidance, protocols and training materials.

2.9    The Victims' Code outlines victims' entitlements to ensure that services recognise and treat victims in a respectful, sensitive and professional manner without discrimination of any kind. Victims are entitled to make a complaint if their entitlements under the Code have not been met.

2.10    The Attorney General may commission the IAC to undertake bespoke investigations on behalf of the Attorney General's Office or the CPS. The nature of these investigations may fall outside the usual IAC remit; in such cases specific terms of reference for the review will be drawn up.

3. Review Process and Time Standards

3.1    As an independent post holder with quasi-judicial functions, the IAC sets their own procedure. However, in general an IAC review will consist of an examination of the papers at Stages 1 and 2 of the complaints procedure. The CPS Area/Central Casework Division will submit and prepare the relevant paperwork and a background note for consideration by the IAC.

3.2    The IAC will consider the information provided and where appropriate request further reports and statements.

3.3    The IAC will decide the extent to which any part of a complaint within the IAC jurisdiction should be reviewed after taking into consideration the information and documents supplied by the CPS Area/Central Casework Division and any other information judged relevant. In so doing the IAC will keep in mind the public interest. Factors against a detailed review include:

  • The CPS Area/Central Casework Division has conducted a proportionate and reasonable investigation of the complaint and has found no administrative failure or mistake;
  • The essence of the complaint is the complainant’s objection to the content and/or the outcome of CPS policy or legislation;  
  • It would be disproportionate for the IAC to review a complaint in detail, given its nature, seriousness and the potential outcome of a review.

3.4    Where a detailed review is required, the IAC will develop a draft response within 30 working days of the matter being referred to them, which will be sent to the relevant CPS Area/Central Casework Division to allow for fact-checking in advance of the final response and recommendations being concluded. The timescales will begin once the complaint has been submitted to the IAC by the CPS Parliamentary & Complaints Unit.

3.5   The CPS will have a maximum of 10 working days to respond to the draft report.

3.6    A full response will be provided to the complainant within 40 working days. If it is not possible to complete the review and reply within that timeframe, the IAC will contact the complainant to explain why there is a delay and provide a date by which a response can be expected.

3.7    The IAC will acknowledge receipt of complaints within five working days.

3.8    The IAC will normally conclude the review with a formal report. However, the IAC will be at liberty to complete a review in whatever means they judge most appropriate.

3.9    The review process will be supported by CPS staff who will provide a back office function and advise the IAC on the eligibility of complaints under these terms of reference.

3.10    Final reports will be sent on behalf of the IAC to the complainant and the Director of Public Prosecutions. They may also be sent to the relevant Chief Crown Prosecutor / Head of Division.

4. Remedies and Compensation

4.1   The normal form of redress recommended by the IAC will be a formal apology on behalf of the CPS.

4.2    The IAC may also recommend changes to CPS policies and practices that could help prevent a recurrence of the circumstances giving rise to the complaint.

4.3    The IAC may not recommend disciplinary action against CPS staff but may recommend that the case for disciplinary action is considered under the CPS's HR procedures.

4.4    The IAC can recommend that the CPS consider making a compensatory or modest consolatory payment where there is clear evidence of uninsured material loss or severe distress cause by maladministration or poor service by the CPS.

4.5    Recommendations will be made to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The IAC's recommendations are not binding, but if the CPS decides not to accept a recommendation it will explain its decision in writing to both the complainant and the IAC.

4.6    Victims have the opportunity to refer their complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), via an MP, following the IAC review where they remain of the view that the Service has failed to meet its obligations under the Victims' Code. The IAC will notify complainants of their right to consideration by the PHSO when appropriate.

4.7    Complainants who are not victims of crime do not have a right of access to the PHSO; the IAC review is the final stage of the complaints process in these cases.

5. CPS Responsibilities

5.1    The CPS will provide:

  • In-year data to the IAC to inform the complaints reporting process
  • Open access to complaints and feedback systems and records
  • Unrestricted access to such information as the IAC requests for the purpose of conducting a review
  • Executive support for the office of the IAC.

5.2    The CPS will ensure that the referral process for the IAC is clear and accessible for complainants and that the executive support arrangements are robust. Fact-checking of draft IAC reports will be undertaken in a timely manner no longer than the timetable in paragraph 3.5 above. Where the CPS is unable to meet that timetable it will inform the IAC immediately.

5.3    The CPS will formally acknowledge IAC reports and recommendations and provide confirmation by letter whether the recommendations have been accepted and implemented.

6. Reporting Arrangements

6.1   The IAC will report biannually to the Director of Public Prosecutions and the CPS Board. The CPS will publish the IAC's annual report on its website.

7. Contact Details

Independent Assessor of Complaints for the CPS
c/o CPS, 102 Petty France, London SW1H 9EA

Email: IAComplaints@cps.gsi.gov.uk

8. Review Period

8.1    The IAC terms of reference will be reviewed annually.

8.2    Supporting FAQ will be updated on a biannual basis.

Crown Prosecution Service
July 2018

Independent Assessor of Complaints - Reports Toggle accordion

Reports to the CPS Board

Independent Assessor of Complaints' annual report to the CPS board for 2018-2019, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF

Independent Assessor of Complaints' biannual report to the CPS board for April-September 2018, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF

Independent Assessor of Complaints' annual report to the CPS board for 2017-2018, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF

Independent Assessor of Complaints' annual report to the CPS board for 2016-2017, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF

Independent Assessor of Complaints' biannual report to the CPS board for April-September 2016, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF

Independent Assessor of Complaints' annual report to the CPS board for 2015-2016, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF

Independent Assessor of Complaints' biannual report to the CPS board for April-September 2015, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF

Independent Assessor of Complaints' annual report to the CPS board for 2014-2015, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF

Independent Assessor of Complaints' biannual report to the CPS board for April-September 2014, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF

Independent Assessor of Complaints' annual report to the CPS board for 2013-2014, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF

Complaints Audits

Independent Assessor of Complaints - Complaints Audit 2017-2018: This paper summarises an audit of CPS complaints in 2017-2018 that did not progress beyond stages 1 or 2. Available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF

Independent Assessor of Complaints - Complaints Audit 2016-2017: This paper summarises an audit of CPS complaints in 2016-2017 that did not progress beyond stages 1 or 2. Available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF

Independent Assessor of Complaints - Complaints Audit 2015-2016: This paper summarises an audit of CPS complaints in 2015-2016 that did not progress beyond stages 1 or 2. Available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF

Independent Assessor of Complaints - Complaints Audit 2014-2015: This paper summarises an audit of CPS complaints in 2014-2015 that did not progress beyond stages 1 or 2. Available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF

Independent Assessor of Complaints - Complaints Audit 2013-2014: This paper summarises an audit of CPS complaints in 2013-2014 that did not progress beyond stages 1 or 2. Available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF