What we do

We are an independent body providing an impartial and free examination of complaints about a range of public services.


If you believe that you have been treated unfairly by a public service provider we may be able to help you.

We can generally only look at complaints if you have exhausted the internal complaints process of the public body in question. Under the Public Services Ombudsman Act (Northern Ireland) 2016, we have the powers to investigate cases across various sectors including education, housing, health and social care, local authorities, government departments and more. View a full list of the public bodies within our remit.

All complaints are assessed by our ASSIST team to determine if we have the authority to investigate and whether it is appropriate to do so. Find out more about how we investigate your complaints.

Through our investigations, we may make recommendations to address failings. This can involve providing remedy and redress for the complainant, and guidance to the public service body in improving the delivery of public services. If it is in the public interest we may publish reports on our investigations whilst taking the appropriate steps to protect the identity of the complainant.

We can also conduct investigations even without receiving complaints from members of the public.  We do this if we believe that there is reasonable suspicion of service failure. We call these ‘Own initiative’ investigations.

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.