As of 26 June 2019, we had 95 unallocated substance and maladministration cases, a decrease of 21 cases since 30 May. As outlined in our update from last month, this reduction has been assisted by a new assessment process for all new cases. This assessment process has been introduced to ensure that cases that cannot be taken forward are identified as quickly as possible.
While this reduction is a positive step, unfortunately, there is still a long wait for cases to be allocated to an investigator, currently 16 months. We continue to work on finding ways to reduce the time taken to allocate cases to an investigator without impacting on the quality and integrity of our investigations. We are very aware that this delay causes complainants additional distress and as such this is something we wish to avoid.
Despite our backlog, we encourage you to make an application to us if you believe there was something wrong with the way one of the Services handled your complaint and/or you believe an incorrect decision was made. We will complete the initial assessment of your application within 10 working days. If we are unable to take your case further at that time, you will receive a decision letter explaining the reasons for this. If we can take your case further, that is when your case will go into the allocation queue. While we appreciate that this wait is far from ideal, if you do not make your application within the 6 week limit the Ombudsman may not be able to review your case at all.
The backlog only applies to substance and maladministration cases. Applications for review of admissibility decisions and investigations into undue delay are not impacted and are being handled in accordance with the published timeframes.
We will continue to update you on the steps taken to improve our processes and increase our resources where needed in order to reduce the backlog and provide you with a quality service in a timely manner.