DPP welcomes report by Independent Assessor of Complaints

Publication date:

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Stephen Herron has welcomed a report into the organisation’s complaints system which concluded it was well structured and enabled the voice of the complainant to be heard.

The most recent report by the Independent Assessor of Complaints into how the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) manages and handles complaints concluded that it “has demonstrated an honest and brave institutional attitude to learning” and that it “promotes a courageous culture in its approach to feedback coming from stakeholders through its complaints system”.

Sarah Havlin was appointed to the role of Independent Assessor of Complaints for the PPS in June 2019. Independent from the prosecuting authority, Ms Havlin’s role is to investigate and report on complaints once they have been responded to fully under the internal stages of the PPS complaints process. Her latest Annual Report (LINK HERE) covers the 2020/21 financial year and examines the internal handling of the 43 complaints dealt with by the PPS in this period. Of the 43 complaints concluded, 17 were upheld or partially upheld.

Among the conclusions recorded by the Assessor were that:

  • the PPS demonstrated an honest and brave institutional attitude to learning and the organisation promotes a courageous culture in its approach to feedback coming from stakeholders through its complaints system;
  • the PPS actively listened to complaints equally and provides a complaint system that is well structured and enables the voice of the complainant to be heard;
  • complaints are taken very seriously at the top of the organisation, and are handled in a constructive, reflective and sympathetic way;
  • the DPP has demonstrated an openness to direct engagement in cases where complaints have been upheld and changes to policy and process have been implemented as a direct result of learning from complaints;
  • no complaint was caused by intentional disrespect, under-performance or lack of professionalism on the part of PPS staff;
  • PPS staff are open to feedback and learning in the quest for continuous improvement in their service to others.

The Independent Assessor also outlined a number of suggestions for improvement. These included the gathering of feedback from key stakeholders to better understand the frequent themes of complaints and to reinforce learning.

DPP Stephen Herron said the report "provides an extremely thorough and insightful analysis of our complaint handling arrangements".

"I welcome the overall conclusions regarding the efficacy of the PPS arrangements and the culture of accountability promoted across the organisation, where complaints are seen by many as an opportunity for learning through meaningful engagement with those who can provide valuable insight into how we provide our services," he said.

“The Independent Assessor of Complaints acknowledges that many of those who come into contact with the PPS will be going through the worst experience of their lives at that time. With this in mind, PPS staff strive to provide a high quality service to those we engage with which has respect and sensitivity at its heart.

“I accept that among the more than 40,000 cases the PPS handles each year, there are occasions on which we get it wrong. I thank the Assessor’s detailed analysis of our complaints system which reflects the organisation’s approach that when we should have done better, we want to know about it and we want to learn from it.”


Notes to Editors

1. The full report can be found on the PPS website. 

2. For further information on how to make a complaint about the service provided, please read the guidance and key information booklet in the complaints section of our website