It is an integral part of the role for Investigators to contribute to public value and learning.
The BinJ Information screen is where we record details relating to our relationship with the BinJ, up to implementation of any remedy. It enables us to help identify any systemic or thematic issues concerning the BinJ’s handling of the complaint – either at the local resolution stage and/or once we begin our investigation (for example, poor complaint handling).
The screen comes with pre-defined drop downs that you can select. These are currently:
- Complaint handling failure
- Delay responding to enquiries
- Extension requested
- Inadequate enquiry response
- LGSCO not signposted
- Threat of witness summons issued
- Witness summons issued
The above list represents some of the most frequent issues identified by investigators during casework. The items in the list can be changed easily depending on current themes and specific issues we may wish to track for a focus report.
Investigators can type more individual comments about the BinJ’s conduct in the “BinJ Handling Comments” box.
The ‘Other Comments’ box should be used for situations where an Investigator identifies the BinJ may benefit from LGSCO external training courses or to record general concerns, but not for issues directly to do with the complaint.
ECHO will also prompt investigators to complete the BinJ Information Screen when saving a workflow. If you do not have any BinJ Information comments you can simply click continue and the workflow will save.
Details of remedies must be recorded, with tasks set for the Team Coordinator to chase, in accordance with the guidance in the Compliance Manual.
It is particularly important to ensure remedies recorded in ECHO are sufficiently SMART to ensure the Team Coordinator has a clear, unambiguous basis to decide if a remedy has been complied with.
If you provide details about what action you expect the BinJ to take to remedy the injustice in the main body of the decision statement, this should be repeated in the recommendations section of the decision statement and must be recorded on ECHO. Team Coordinators rely on the ECHO screen to know what they should be checking. This means it must accurately reflect what is said about the remedy in the decision statement as a whole, as this will be what the complainant is expecting.
Any problems with the BinJ at the remedy stage should be recorded here by the Team Coordinator. If the BinJ decides to go further than our recommendation, this should be recorded under BinJ Information, and not here.
Some of our cases are likely to be of particular interest to the media. This might be cases where we want to encourage coverage of particularly interesting decisions or where we expect media interest because the complainant actively invites it. In either scenario we want to be as prepared and proactive as possible.
Ticking the ‘Public Value and Communications’ box in ECHO results in the case being flagged to the Policy and Communications team. Although we tend to think most about using this for public reports, this function can also be used to highlight statements of reasons that could be particularly significant, interesting, unusual or risky (from a publicity perspective).
It is hard to define what type of case will be of interest to the media. Some suggestions to think about ticking the box for are:
- Cases that are relevant to current areas of our priorities for campaigns and publicity that year – as set out in the Reports manual record of The Ombudsman’s annual priorities for reports
- Cases where there is potential for significant media interest. This may be hard to predict but consider cases which touch on themes that have high national or regional profile or involve particularly contentious or unusual local issues. It may include cases where there is a linked local campaign/support group or where there is a strong human interest or where we have identified an unusual remedy.
- Where councils or providers go above and beyond our recommendations (e.g. where they have used our investigation as prompt for system-wide review and improvement of a service area). This might only become apparent when carrying out a remedy check and Investigators can still tick the box at that point.
- Where our investigation has made a particular significant impact from the perspective of the complainant.
Consider calling the Communications Manager or Communications Officer (External) to have an early conversation about potentially interesting cases. They can help with advice on suggesting to the complainant whether they would be prepared to talk to the media and what that could involve.