The Office of Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO) was established in April 2016. It replaced and expanded the functions of the former offices of Assembly Ombudsman and Commissioner for Complaints, bringing them together into a single statutory office.
NIPSO provides a professional, independent, impartial and free service to the people of Northern Ireland. We:
(1) provide for the public an independent review of their complaints where they believe that they have sustained an injustice or hardship as a result of the action or inaction of a public service provider (we call this “maladministration”).
(2) ensure that public services improve as a result of the complaints that people bring to them and to this Office.
We consider the grounds for complaint by reference to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s “Principles of Good Administration”. These principles may be viewed here.
If we find maladministration we may make recommendations to address it. Our recommendations usually focus on providing remedy and redress for the complainant and on improving public services. We are an office of last resort and will generally only consider complaints after the public service provider has considered the issues of complaint through their formal complaints procedure.
The Ombudsman also has ‘own initiative’ investigation powers. These allow her to conduct an investigation if she has a reasonable suspicion that there is systemic maladministration, even if no complaint has been received.
The criteria for selecting subjects for potential Own Initiative investigations are –
One or more of the following:
- The issue of concern has been identified by the Ombudsman to be one of public interest.
- The issue of concern affects a number of individuals or a particular group of people.
- The investigation has the potential to improve public services.
- The Ombudsman considers the investigation of the chosen issue is the best and most proportionate use of investigative resources.
Therefore, selection criterion 4 must always be applied with at least one other.
In all of our work you can expect us to:
(1) be thorough and efficient
(2) be fair and impartial
(3) consider all complaints independently and in confidence
(4) be professional and to behave with integrity
(5) communicate clearly and effectively
(6) treat people with respect and with regard to their human rights
The organisations that are within our jurisdiction are listed in Schedule 3 to the Public Services Ombudsman Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 (the 2016 Act). Click here for a copy of the 2016 Act.
Information for Complainants
A short animated video guide