Complaints Children's Hearings Scotland's (CHS’) Complaints Handling Procedure (CHP) follows best practice advice given to public bodies by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO). A copy of our CHP can be found to the right of this page. What is a complaint? CHS’ definition of a complaint is: ‘An expression of dissatisfaction by one or more members of the public about the CHS Community’s action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by or on behalf of the CHS Community.’ A member of the public is not: a member of the CHS Community (i.e. panel member, AST member, member of the CHS National team, or CHS Board member) a member of an organisation carrying out functions or duties as set out in a Partnership Agreement If you do not agree with a decision made at a children’s hearing, you have the right to appeal against the decision within 21 days of the hearing taking place. CHS cannot deal with this type of situation through its CHP. More information about how to appeal is available in the information for children, young people and families sections. A complaint may relate to: failure to provide a service inadequate standard of service dissatisfaction with policy treatment by, or attitude of, a member of the CHS Community towards a member of the public disagreement with an action where no other external procedure or appeals process exists (for example an appeal or review), regardless of any time limits which may apply failure to follow the appropriate administrative process Who can make a complaint? Members of the public, as defined above, can make a complaint. Sometimes a member of the public may be unable or reluctant to make a complaint on their own. Complaints brought by third parties are accepted as long as a member of the public has given their personal consent. Complaints raised by a member of the CHS Community or member of a local authority carrying out functions as set out in a Partnership Agreement* in relation to the actions or services provided by or on behalf of CHS by another member of the CHS Community are to be handled under the CHS Community Concerns Procedure. *(This includes Clerks to the AST and their teams as well as individuals carrying our functions that have been set out in a local authority Partnership Agreement, e.g. finance staff processing expenses. It does not include individuals working within a social work department or in schools.) Complaints in relation to Clerks to the AST about a service that they provide for the AST cannot be handled under the CHP. Clerks are local authority employees and accordingly, complaints against them should be handled under the local authority’s own complaints handling procedure. Complaints solely against local authority members of the AST should not be handled under the CHP. These should be handled by The Standards Commission for Scotland. How do I make a complaint? You can make a complaint to CHS in the following ways: by completing this electronic complaints form by writing to CHS Complaints, Area 2/1/1 Ladywell House, Ladywell Road, Edinburgh EH12 7TB by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by telephoning CHS on 0131 244 3696 If you wish to make a complaint about: a Children’s Reporter, please contact SCRA - more information is available on their website a social worker, please contact the relevant local authority a Safeguarder, please contact CHILDREN 1st What information do I need to include in my complaint? It would be helpful if you could include the following information: what you think has gone wrong what you would like us to do about it details of any previous contacts or correspondence with us about your complaint the address and postcode to which we should send a reply whether or not you are happy for the details of the complaint to be shared with individuals you are making the complaint about We strongly urge you not to submit any sensitive information, such as the name of a child involved in the Children’s Hearings System or any case details relating to a child, young person or family involved in the Children’s Hearings System. When we receive your complaint, if we feel it is necessary to obtain this information from you in order to investigate your complaint, we will contact you. If I make a complaint, what will CHS do with my information? We will only use the information you provide to process your complaint and to check on our performance responding to complaints. We do compile and publish statistics showing information like the number of complaints we receive, but not in a form which identifies anyone. Complaints records will be retained for 10 years from the complaint closure. CHS is a data controller and processes personal data in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. For further information, please see our Privacy Statement on the CHS website. How long will it take for my complaint to be investigated? CHS will always try to resolve a complaint at the initial point of contact if possible. If a complaint is complex or requires a detailed investigation, it may take longer to resolve. If this is the case, your complaint will be acknowledged within three working days and we will aim to issue a response to your complaint within 20 working days. However, please note it may not be possible to meet the timescales in every case but we will keep you updated throughout the process. Why are complaints so important to CHS? Complaints provide valuable feedback. By recording and using complaints information, we can identify and address the causes of complaints and, where appropriate, identify training opportunities and introduce service improvements. We also report on our performance in handling complaints annually in line with SPSO requirements. This includes performance statistics showing the volumes and types of complaints and key performance details, for example on the time taken and the stage at which complaints were resolved. What if I am not happy with the outcome of my complaint? If you remain dissatisfied with CHS at the end of our complaints process, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to look at your complaint. The SPSO cannot normally look at complaints: where you have not gone all the way through our complaints handling procedure more than 12 months after you became aware of the matter you want to complain about that have been or are being considered in court More information about how to complain to the SPSO can be found on their website. The SPSO’s contact details are: SPSOFreepost EH641 Edinburgh EH3 0BR Freephone: 0800 377 7330 Website: http://www.spso.org.uk Managing unacceptable behaviour We believe that an individual’s complaints and concerns have a right to be heard, understood and respected. We work hard to be open and accessible. Occasionally, the behaviour or actions of individuals using our service makes it very difficult for us to deal with their complaints or concerns. In a small number of cases the actions become unacceptable because they involve abuse of members of the CHS Community or our process. When this happens we have to take action to protect members of the CHS Community. We consider the impact of the behaviour on our ability to do our work and provide a service to others. CHS’ Unacceptable Actions Policy (UAP) sets out examples of behaviour that we would consider to be unacceptable and how we will manage this type of behaviour. Please see the UAP on the right of this page for further information.