How the Ombudsman chooses what to investigate

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

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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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