Our Customer Charter

Until the OEP is fully established as an independent legal body, the Interim OEP will receive and validate complaints about public authorities failing to comply with environmental law, as provided for under the Environment Bill.  As the Interim OEP, we do not have statutory powers to investigate or make enforcement decisions.  However, once the OEP has been legally established, it will consider all the complaints received by the Interim OEP. This will allow the OEP to determine which complaints to investigate using its legal powers where appropriate.

This charter explains what you can expect from the Interim OEP when you ask us to look at your complaint and what we need from you in return.

How we look at your complaint

Please read our external complaint procedure. It explains what will happen when you contact us, and how we will validate your complaint.

Our commitments

Giving you the information, you need

When we communicate with you, we will:

  •  be prompt in responding to your phone calls and correspondence
  •  acknowledge written correspondence as soon as practical and normally within 10 working days
  •  return calls as soon as we reasonably can
  •  explain our role and what we can and cannot do as the Interim OEP
  •  explain how we handle complaints and what information we need from you
  •  direct you to someone who can help with your complaint if we are unable to, where possible
  •  keep you updated on our progress with your complaint
  •  write to you in simple and clear language and avoid using technical terms as far as possible.

Following an open and fair process

We will:

  • carefully read through your complaint to make sure we fully understand it and may contact you if we need further details or clarification 
  • gather all the information we need, including from you and the public authority you have complained about 
  • evaluate the information we've gathered and make an initial, impartial assessment on the validity of your complaint to determine if we think it will fall within the remit of the OEP
  • inform you of the outcome of our initial assessment and next steps including future consideration of your complaint by the OEP once it has been established as a statutory body.

Giving you a good service

We will:

  • treat you with courtesy and respect
  • be open and transparent in providing an outcome of our initial assessment on your complaint as soon as we reasonably can
  • try to give you support and help if you need it
  • look after the information you give us, within our guidelines.

Equality / Diversity / Disability

  • We commit to dealing with you without discrimination or prejudice.
  • We will respect equality and human rights in accordance with Public Sector Duty principles.
  • We will aim to have our services easily available and as accessible to you as reasonably possible.

Living up to our commitments

We will:

  • listen to your feedback and use it to improve our service
  • apologise if we make mistakes and aim to put things right as far as reasonably possible.

What we expect from you when you complain to us

We need you to:

  • Before you contact us, please complain directly to the public authority you believe has breached environmental law first. This gives the public authority the chance to consider the issue and put things right if it agrees there has been a failure
    • explain your complaint to us as clearly as you can
    • quote the ID number we assign to your complaint in all communications with us about it
    • treat our staff with courtesy and respect
    • respond to our requests for information in a reasonable amount of time
  • Let us know if you have any special requirements (for example, if you require information in a different format) 

Improving our Customer Charter and Service

We will listen to people who have used our service and to public authorities in considering improvements to this charter and our service.

Confidentiality

Usually, we need your name and contact details when you submit a complaint. This is so we can keep you informed about the progress of your complaint.  We will not share your contact details with the public authority that you are complaining about.

Before you submit a complaint to us, we ask that you first contact the public authority and follow their own internal complaints process. After you’ve submitted your complaint to us, we will need to check that the internal complaints process has been completed. This means that we will need to share your name with the public authority in question, so that they can check their records.

We cannot accept anonymous complaints.  However, in exceptional circumstances we can agree to keep a complainant's identity confidential where there is a very good reason to do so.  If you wish to keep your identity confidential, please contact us by email, phone, or post so that we can discuss your needs and agree the best approach.

Data Protection

We are committed to keeping any personal data you submit to us secure. Please see our Data Privacy Notice for details of how we will handle your personal data in line with Data Protection Legislation.

Reasonable Adjustments

Our service should not place anyone with a disability at a disadvantage.  We have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to meet individual needs.  If you have specific requirements, please contact us and tell us what you need.  We will do our best to communicate with you in the way that you have asked.

Before making an adjustment, we may sometimes need to consider your request in more detail, for example by working with you to consider what adjustment would be most helpful and possible. There may be circumstances where we decide not to meet the request, for example if it would be very difficult to provide it.