Written evidence from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

PHSO’s role and complaints about the Victims Code





The MP filter acts as a hurdle to accessing justice




















The draft Bill proposes to remove the MP filter for victims only




There is an opportunity to further improve accessibility and access to justice for victims



Crown Prosecution Services has found that disabled people – some of whom may struggle with written communication – are more likely to become victims of crime.


The filter has been or is being removed for other Ombudsman services


Victims Commissioner survey finds victims with poor experience of the Criminal Justice System will not report crimes again

        A survey by the Victims’ Commissioner, launched in summer 2020, received 600 responses from victims outlining their experience of the Criminal Justice System. It found that:

o over one-third of victims will not report a future crime because of past experience.

o 42% of victims felt like they had not been treated with respect by the police.

o 66% of victims said they had to wait too long before their case came to court.

There is support from MPs to remove and reform the MP filter









There is Parliamentary and wider stakeholder support for the removal of the MP filter




Ombudsman’. The Report goes on to say (paragraph 39): ‘Specific matters that should be considered as part of any reform include […] the MP filter (as part of any change to remove the MP filter, the role of Members in assisting complainants must be secured)’.



Windrush]. In addition, with the absence of own initiative powers the PHSO has been unable to investigate systemic maladministration by the Home Office due to a lack of complaints.’







What will the removal of the MP filter mean in practice?




















Annex A – Examples of complaints we have received from victims of crime


Examples of complaints where there have been issues with MP referrals





Examples of the complaints we have received from victims of crime






Annex B – Referrals by MPs to PHSO, 2020-21 


In total 2,653 complaints were referred to PHSO by MPs during 2020-21. 


Just under three quarters of MPs (73%/473) referred five or fewer complaints to PHSO during 2020-21 (including MPs who did not refer any complaints to PHSO). Just under a quarter of MPs (22%/144) referred between 6 and 10 complaints. 


71 MPs did not refer a single complaint.




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[1] In 1961, the report by Sir John Whyatt, ‘The Citizen and the Administration: The Redress of Grievances’, which originally proposed the establishment of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, said that "in the beginning" the Parliamentary Commissioner should receive complaints only from Members of the Houses of Lords and Commons, but that at a later stage, when the Commissioner's jurisdiction was "established and well understood", consideration should be given to the public having direct access to the Commissioner.