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How the Ombudsman chooses what to investigate

The Ombudsman follows clear criteria when choosing which issues to look into. 

What does systemic improvement mean?

Systemic improvement means focusing on significant or wide-ranging issues to bring about an overall improvement in the way government agencies act and make decisions. The Ombudsman has made a particular commitment to focus on issues to do with prisons, disabled people and children in care.

How does the Ombudsman choose what to investigate?

A systemic issue may come to the Ombudsman's attention because they have received complaints from the public. They also hear about issues in other ways, such as media reporting.

A systemic improvement investigation might be suitable where:

  • The Ombudsman has received a pattern of similar complaints
  • a large number of people are directly and substantially affected by the issue
  • there’s significant public interest in the issue
  • an investigation has the potential to improve practices across the public sector or broadly in one particular agency
  • a practical and enduring outcome may be achievable for agencies and the public
  • an investigation is the best and most efficient use of resources in this area.

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