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Principles of Good Complaint Handling

Being open and accountable

Public bodies should do the following:

  • Ensure that information about how to complain is easily available. They should provide clear, accurate and complete information to their customers about the scope of complaints the organisation can consider; what customers can and cannot expect from the complaint handling arrangements, including timescales and likely remedies; and how, when and where to take things further.
  • Be open and honest when accounting for their decisions and actions. They should give clear, evidence-based explanations, and reasons for their decisions. When things have gone wrong, public bodies should explain fully and say what they will do to put matters right as quickly as possible.
  • Create and maintain reliable and usable records as evidence of their activities. These records should include the evidence considered and the reasons for decisions. Public bodies should manage complaint records in line with recognised standards to ensure they are kept and can be retrieved for as long as there is a statutory duty or business need. This can include the need to respond to complaints or to provide relevant information to the Ombudsman.
  • Handle and process information properly and appropriately, in line with the law and relevant guidance. So while their policies and procedures should be transparent, public bodies should also respect the privacy of personal and confidential information, as the law requires.
  • Take responsibility for the actions of their staff and those acting on behalf of the public body.