PC.01 Prisoner complaints
Prison complaints criteria
This process applies whenever a prisoner, or other person acting in the interests of a prisoner, formally draws attention, either orally or in writing, to any action which the complainant wishes to have investigated or reviewed.
PC.01.01 Initial notification of prisoner complaint
- On being advised of a prisoner’s complaint, unit staff should immediately attempt to resolve the issue informally before the prisoner lodges a formal complaint.
- If the prisoner’s concerns cannot be addressed informally, unit staff must:
- advise the prisoner of the internal complaint process
- advise the prisoners that they have the right to seek assistance from official agencies (e.g. Inspector of Corrections or the Office of the Ombudsmen) for the purpose of resolving complaints, and that the prisoner:
- can contact the Inspector of Corrections or the Office of the Ombudsmen directly using the 0800 number or writing a letter
- can request an interview with these agencies by completing PC.01.Form.01 Prisoner complaint
- does not have to tell any prison staff member why they want to have an interview with an Inspector of Corrections.
- advise the prisoner that they may have a support person who can:
- assist in completing the complaint form
- act as an interpreter
- assist in responding and presenting the prisoner’s complaint, but
- not act in any legal capacity or be legally qualified.
PC.01.02 Internal complaint
- If the officer's attempt to resolve the issue with the prisoner is not to the prisoner's satisfaction, the prisoner is to be given a PC.01.Form.01 Prisoner complaint.
- If the prisoner appears to have difficulties with oral or written communication, or has difficulty communicating in English, the officer should provide assistance with completing form.
- The prisoner must return the completed form to the officer. The prisoner can record any information on the application outlining the complaint. Where a prisoner believes that the complaint concerns a person that the complaint will be forwarded to, and the prisoner writes the name of the person or persons who are the subject of the complaint on the form, the prisoner does not need to disclose the nature of the complaint, and staff should not ask the prisoner about it.
- Upon receipt of the completed form, the officer must complete the “receipt” part of the form and hand it to the prisoner.
- The interviewing officer must update IOMS (Interviews and Complaints) and provide copies of the (numbered) IOMS generated complaint form within 24 hours from receiving the completed form to:
- the prisoner, and
- the person who will interview the prisoner.
- Complaints under the category of Staff Conduct and Attitude, must be referred to the prison manager. (IOMS Complaint screen should include the rank and unit but not the name of the staff involved.)
Note: Any allegation of the following are managed as per the instructions set out in IR.07 Staff related incident report and investigation:
- assault by staff on prisoner
- assault by staff on other person
- criminal offence by staff (other than assault) while on duty
- misconduct by staff while on duty, or
- accident to a staff member while on duty.
- All other complaints categories are to be referred to the PCO.
- Where the complaint concerns the prison manager, the prison manager must forward the complaint to their regional manager.
- If the complaint relates to Health Services or Health staff, the complaint must be forwarded to the Health Centre Manager once:
- the prisoner has completed PC.01.Form.01 Prisoner complaint, and
- the PCO has completed the receipt section of this section of the form.
- If the complaint relates to either CIE activities or CIE staff, the complaint must be forwarded to the CIE Area Operations Manager, once:
- the prisoner has completed PC.01.Form.01 Prisoner complaint, and
- the PCO has completed the receipt section of this section of this form.
- For CIE complaints, instructions referring to prison manager (or other prison staff) are to be read as referring to CIE Area Operations Manager, or other delegated staff.
Note: CIE staff can link to the Managing Prisoner Complaints about CIE Employment or Training (National Policy) under Related Links.
PC.01.03 Complaint interview
- The interviewing officer may require the prisoner to provide details of the complaint in writing.
- Interviews before a unit PCO, must occur within three working days of the receipt of the PC.01.Form.01 Prisoner complaint. Interviews by the prison manager or another person in the prison who is able to resolve the issue must occur within seven working days of the prison manager or other person being advised of the complaint.
- At the interview, the prisoner may be accompanied by a support person as long as that support person is not the prisoner's legal adviser.
- The interviewing officer should attempt to resolve prisoner concerns promptly where possible.
PC.01.04 Complaint resolution
- The interviewer is responsible for recording “agreed action” information into IOMS, including any action that the Department has taken in response to the complaint or any decisions made as a consequence of the complaint, and must provide a copy of the IOMS form to the prisoner.
- Where the “action agreed” is a referral to a person at the next level of delegated authority, the interviewing officer needs to ensure that this person is informed.
- The interviewer must refer unresolved prisoner complaints to the next delegated level of authority, who is responsible for investigating these unresolved complaints within 14 days of referral and ensuring that the prisoner is kept informed of progress.
- If there is no “action agreed”, or the prisoner is not happy with the outcome of the complaint, the interviewing officer must advise the prisoner that they may seek assistance from external agencies through the external “Complaints” process (including the contact details for external agencies).
- Where the complaint is ongoing, the interviewer should ensure that at monthly intervals the prisoner is notified in writing (using an update on the IOMS form and a copy given to the prisoner), and if practicable, orally, on the progress of the complaint.
- A complaint is resolved internally when any one of the following has occurred:
- all legal and reasonable steps have been taken to address the substance of the complaint
- the complainant withdraws a complaint
- it is referred on to an appropriate external complaint official agency
- it is referred back to an appropriate lower level and "agreed action" is taken.
PC.01.05 Frivolous or vexatious complaints
- If the interviewing officer considers that the complaint is frivolous or vexatious, they must refer the matter to the prison manager. The prison manager must consider each complaint on a case by case basis, and determine if the complaint:
- is an abuse of the complaint process
- is not made in good faith
- attempts to re-open an issue that has been properly resolved.
- The prison manager must consult with the regional operations advisor before determining whether or not to investigate a frivolous or vexatious complaint.
- If the prison manager decides that the complaint is frivolous or vexatious, the prison manager must ensure that the prisoner is promptly notified in writing (by completing the “agreed action” section on the IOMS form and providing the prisoner with a copy of this form) and, if practicable also orally, of the decision not to investigate the complaint.
- The prison manager must advise the prisoner about their right to complain to an official agency (e.g. the Office of the Ombudsmen or Inspector of Corrections).
- Prison managers are responsible for maintaining a register of all complaints not investigated because they are considered to be frivolous or vexatious (made up of completed IOMS forms (CP. Form 1) with evidence that this decision was made in consultation with the regional operations advisor).
PC.01.06 Complaints to official agencies
- Serious complaints must be referred to a suitably qualified and independent person to investigate, in a way that enables a prompt resolution to the allegation. An Inspector of Corrections will monitor the conduct and outcome of any such investigation.
- Unit staff must update IOMS if the prisoner has filed a PC.01.Form.01 Prisoner complaint requesting an interview with an official agency, then forward the form to the prison manager.
- The prison manager records the names of prisoners who wish to have an interview with an external agency and forwards the list of names to the appropriate regional Office of the Ombudsmen (first week of each month), or Inspector of Corrections.
- The Ombudsman and Inspector of Corrections should, if practicable, provide the prison manager with at least 48 hours notice of an impending visit, and advise who they intend to interview.
- Notices of upcoming visits by an Inspector of Corrections or Office of the Ombudsmen's representative must be prominently displayed.
- The prison manager must take reasonable steps to facilitate these interviews and ensure that the prisoner is given at least 24 hours notice of an upcoming interview.
- If required, the prison manager will provide an oral briefing to the Inspector of Corrections or Office of the Ombudsmen's representative.
- An Inspector of Corrections must be given access to any person in a prison at which the complainant is / was detained and have access to any records that are relevant to the complaint for the purpose of investigating a complaint.
- An Inspector of Corrections may at any time enter a prison and have access to all parts of the prison (including any vehicle used for the transportation of any prisoner during the complainant's period of detention) and any other prisoners for the purpose of investigating a complaint.
PC.01.07 Official agencies recommendations
- The prison manager must ensure that the recommendations of the official agency are responded to in an appropriate manner.
- Where a complaint to an Inspector of Corrections requires the Inspector's intervention in order to bring about the correct outcome, that complaint will be deemed to be justified. Any of the following conditions may apply:
- The action or outcome being complained of did not comply with the applicable legislation, operating standards or lawful local instructions.
- The action or outcome being complained of was not safe, fair or reasonable in the circumstances.
- The matter was not dealt with in a timely fashion upon being drawn to attention in the first instance.
- A complaint is unjustified if, upon being referred back to a lower level from a higher level where it has been received in the first instance, the matter is acknowledged at the lower level and resolved without requiring intervention by an Inspector of Corrections.
PC.01.08 Request for information or to initiate specified application
- Prisoners may request a complaint interview from any member of staff for the purposes of obtaining information or when making the following applications:
- F.11.01 Application for special religious service
- F.14.01 Application for fundraising
- F.07.01 Application for access to facilities to assist in litigation
- F.08.01 Application for access to facilities for study
- F.09.01 Application for wedding / civil union.
- The same process for complaints is followed but the category selected on IOMS under complaints will be “Request for Information”.