The Legal and Investigations team provide both casework and investigation services:
The term ‘relevant authority’ is defined in legislation, but in simple terms it means a public body. This includes schools, the Education Authority, Health and Social Care Trusts, hospitals, and many others.
Each year we deal with hundreds of individual enquiries about many different issues which affect children and young people. Some recent examples include issues such as bullying, school transport, special educational needs provision, post primary places, health provision and difficulties at school.
All enquiries are dealt with on a confidential basis, unless information is given which raises child protection concerns. In these circumstances NICCY has a duty to report the matter to the relevant authorities.
We provide assistance, advice, support, or signposting whichever is most suitable depending on the individual circumstances of the enquiry.
We can help with enquiries regarding children and young people up to age 18 and in some circumstances 21 years of age.
To ask for assistance with a complaint, please complete our Referral Form. If we cannot help due to restrictions on our remit, we will try to refer you to someone else who can.
Article 12 of the NICCY Order states that the Commissioner may conduct an investigation into a complaint made by a child or young person (against a relevant authority) that their rights have been infringed or their interests adversely affected by the action of a relevant authority. Complainants must have already complained to the authority and exhausted any complaint mechanism available to them before referring the matter to us. If we decide to investigate the complaint we will do so on a neutral basis, being neither an advocate for the child, nor an adversary of any authority complained about. Any investigation will be carried out on an impartial basis.
When complainants contact us, they shall be sent an initial referral form to complete and return. The complaint shall then be considered to ascertain if it falls within NICCY’s remit. The complaint will then either be processed as a casework complaint, an investigation, a SENDIST matter or a legal case. In practice, most complaints are now treated as investigations. In some circumstances we will conduct a full Formal Investigation as outlined in Article 16 of our legislation.
Investigations booklet – We have a guide to NICCY investigations which you can view here.