Scrutiny Panel publish report on complaints processes and accountability
13th December 2021
The Care of Children in Jersey Review Panel has published its report examining the current systems in place across the four areas of public administration in respect of complaints processes, redress available and disciplinary procedures. The Panel's report includes 54 findings and 18 recommendations aimed at producing specific improvements across those four areas, which encompass:
- Government of Jersey
- Jersey Court Service
- Parish Administrations
- States Assembly
The Review Panel, which was originally formed to examine the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry (IJCI) and to hold Government to account accordingly, has produced its third report as a follow up to work completed in 2019. At that time, the Panel identified that key points raised through submissions pointed to ineffective complaints processes, a lack of redress for those raising what were considered injustices and officials not being held to account for serious issues.
The Panel has collected substantial evidence throughout this review, including holding public hearings with the Chief Minister, Bailiff of Jersey, Judicial Greffier, Chair of the Comité des Connétables and the Attorney General. Furthermore, a public call for evidence was undertaken in order to gather views on the systems currently in place and people's experience of them.
Key findings and recommendations focus on:
- Training Government staff. The Panel has been unable to identify any training in relation to handling complaints within the Government of Jersey on its online virtual college training portal. As such, the Panel has recommended that, as a matter of urgency, this training is made available to all States of Jersey Employees.
- Public consultation. The Panel recommends the Chief Minister needs to revisit the response to the 'Jersey Way' and consult with members of the public about how to deal with that negative perception.
- Ensuring the new customer feedback policy records outcomes are actioned.
- Implementing the Public Service Ombudsman. The Panel has heard evidence for the need of a fully resourced Public Service Ombudsman.
- Improving access to justice and costs associated with taking a case through the court system. The Panel has recommended a more accessible version of the complaints processes should be produced explaining how members of the public can make a complaint about a member of the judiciary in line with best practice in other jurisdictions.
- Further Public Inquiry. The Panel has found that there is a need to conduct a further public inquiry to deal with historic complaints and cases which have not been addressed sufficiently.
- Parish Administration. The Panel proposes that the Comité des Connétables bring forward a code of conduct for all elected parish officials and employees which sets out the expectations of behaviour within a parish role and also provides further details of the current codes and policies.
Deputy Rob Ward, Chair of the Care of Children in Jersey Scrutiny Review Panel, said: "It is clear from our work that failures to support complainants and confused processes lead to inadequate outcomes and longer-term escalation of issues. Too often this seriously and negatively impacts on people's lives. The Panel are aware of many individuals who have approached the Panel about the subject of the review, but who were unwilling to engage formally with the Panel due to an apparent mistrust and fear. I would like to thank all of those who gave evidence to the review and for the courage and dignity demonstrated.
We have concerns that there is still a reluctance to bring forward complaints and raise issues due to a likelihood of not receiving positive outcomes and this must be addressed."
A digital version of this report can be read here.
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