Home Office launches new
Independent Examiner of
Complaints service

This week, the Home Office has launched a new independent complaint investigation service for customers of its immigration services. The Independent Examiner of Complaints (IEC) service will provide customers with an opportunity to have their case reviewed independently if they are unhappy with the Home Office’s final response to a complaint.

In launching the IEC service, the Home Office has fulfilled another of the recommendations put forward in Wendy Williams’ Windrush Lessons Learned Review, published in March 2020. It also brings the Department in line with several other public service delivery departments such as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Although the IEC will not have any remit over immigration decisions, which remain subject to existing appeal processes, they will apply greater scrutiny and ultimately increase public confidence in the customer services delivered by the Home Office, as well as helping to manage reputational risk.

About the IEC

The Independent Examiner of Complaints is not a civil servant or Home Office employee. They are an independent post holder, appointed under contract. This allows them to make fully independent decisions based on the merits of each complaint on a case-by-case basis.

Following a fair and open recruitment process, the Home Office announced yesterday that Moi Ali has been appointed as the new IEC. She will be supported by an Office for the IEC, based in Stoke-on-Trent. Her approach will be to understand the complainant journey and perspective whilst supporting staff to provide a complainant-centric service.

Ms Ali has a background in independent complaints review, having overseen complaints about senior police officers in her current role as the Independent Assessor of Complaints for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), a role which she will continue in on a part-time basis.

Types of complaints the IEC can look at

The Office for the IEC reviews complaints about the Home Office for people who are unhappy with how their complaint has been handled. The service will look at whether the Home Office has worked in-line with its own procedures and guidance.

The IEC can examine complaints about the following business areas:

  • UK Visas and Immigration
  • Immigration Enforcement
  • Border Force
  • Detention and Escorting Service
  • HM Passport Office.

Complaints may be about a delay or error, poor service, poor advice or information, or a failure to follow the correct procedures.

The IEC can only review your complaint if:

  • you have received a final response to your complaint, that explains you can bring it to the Office for the IEC if you are unhappy with the outcome
  • you contact us within three months of receiving the final complaint response.

Types of complaints the IEC cannot look at

The IEC is unable to look at complaints:

  • about Home Office decisions that carry review or appeal rights
  • about Home Office policy or legislation
  • that are, or have been investigated by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
  • about how the Home Office has acted as an employer
  • that are, or have been the subject of judicial review or other court proceedings
  • which fall under the remit of the Windrush Compensation Scheme
  • about serious misconduct which are being reviewed by the Professional Standards Unit
  • about the Home Office’s compliance with data protection regulations.

How to make a complaint

To submit a complaint to the Office for the IEC, you can fill out the online form or contact the service in writing or by phone using the contact details below.

Email: iec@homeoffice.gov.uk

Home Office
Office for the Independent Examiner of Complaints
PO Box
S2 9JD

Telephone: 0300 071 5679 between the hours of 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

The complaints handling process

The IEC has a clear process in place for handling your complaint. When each complaint is received, the Business Support Team will register it and decide if it can be looked at. You may be asked to provide more information. If the IEC cannot look at your complaint, you will be told why within 5 working days.

If the IEC agrees to look at your complaint, the actions they make take include:

  • Resolving your complaint (asking the business to take action to put matters right)
  • Settling your complaint (this may include the business giving you an apology or financial redress)
  • Carrying out an investigation report (you will receive an investigation report which explains the outcome of your complaint).

To find out more about the new service, please visit the GOV.UK guidance page here.

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