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Investigation Manual

20 Enquiries of the BinJ

  • There is no such thing as an ‘informal’ enquiry in Investigation. There should be a record of every enquiry we make, either in writing or in Notes & Analysis.
  • We should always address our letters to the Chief Executive or equivalent, as the appropriate representative of the BinJ. The letter can be emailed to the Link Officer. 
  • Enquiries should be proportionate and tightly focussed on establishing the facts necessary to make a robust decision as soon as possible. We should positively discourage unnecessary information. There is a standard template letter in ECHO.
  • First enquiries should generally be by letter which includes a statement of the complaint and the invitation to comment, attached to an email. Investigators should include a copy of the complaint form or complaint letter if it has not already been sent to the BinJ. 
  • Simple requests for comments and one or two documents or to check a minor matter may be sent by email without letter attachment. However, if this is the first enquiry it should include a statement of the complaint and the invitation to comment. 
  • Investigators should never use first names when corresponding with BinJ officers. While it is natural to become accustomed to speaking to some link officers in particular, we should always remain professional and demonstrate our impartiality in everything we do. We do this by using their title and surname in all correspondence – “Dear Mr King”. The only exception to this is where we are not sure of the gender of the BinJ officer, in which case it is appropriate to use their full name instead - “Dear Michael King”.
  • A (noted) telephone call may also be used for simple requests. The necessary BinJ notification must accompany the subsequent draft decision where we have not made detailed enquiries. There is a specific letter template for this. Chasing may be done by telephone or by email.
  • Investigators should normally give 20 working days for a response to first enquiries. With urgent cases, such as children out of school, Investigators should ask for a quicker response. The timescale for follow up enquiries may be shorter.
  • ECHO will measure the BinJ response time to first enquiries (day one is the day after the enquiry is recorded as sent). Enquires by email sent after 17:00 or by letter after the post has gone, and responses received after 17:00, should be recorded sent, or received, the next day.
  • It is important to complete the ECHO workflow correctly upon receipt of a BinJ response to enquiries or when allowing extra time for a response. The ECHO Manual explains what you should do.
  • If the BinJ does not meet our time target and fails to respond to a chasing letter without good cause (normally within a further 10 working days), the matter should be referred promptly to an Assistant Ombudsman.