The striking facts are that in the two years 2003 to 2005 only 27 complaints were investigated by an SPSO staff of approximately 40
people. That is less than one investigation per SPSO investigator per year. Yet in 2007 the number of complaints
investigated increased to 315. The statistics would suggest that a lot of people in 2003 to 2006 had the complaints
rejected and not properly investigated. In 2008 there were 1000 more complaints but only 75 extra investigations.
If you are one of the 10,103 out of 10,326 people, over the last four years (or one of the 919 people who have not had their
complaint investigated so far see bottom of web page for list of outstanding complaints), who after reading what
maladministration is on this web site, feel that you have had a valid and irrefutable complaint or enquiry rejected, then you should
make a formal complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
It ir really important that members of the public submit complaints to the SPSO about their service as the SPSO do not want the
general public to think that they are doing a poor job and people complain about they. They have in the past claimed that no one
complains about their decisions, see web page "SPSO claims" for details.
After complaining to the SPSO you should then send your complaint that you submitted to the SPSO and complain to the following
people that the SPSO are not providing a quasi-judicial service to the Public as envisaged by the Scottish Parliament when they set
up the SPSO in 2002.
1. Your Constituency MSP at The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP.
2. Your seven Regional MSPs at The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP. Your seven Regional MSPs can be found at the
Scottish Parliament MSP index (link) 3. Mr John Swinney MSP and Cabinet Secretary for Finance at The Scottish Parliament,
Edinburgh, EH99 1SP. As Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Mr Swinney has the power to ensure that the Scottish Public Services
Ombudsman is providing the service expected by Parliament or he can withhold the public funds which allow it to operate.
4. Mr Mike Pringle MSP, who is responsible for the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, at The Scottish Parliament Corporate
Body, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP
5. Mr Alex Ferguson MSP, Presiding Officer for the Scottish parliament and Chairman of the re-appointment committee for the
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman and the man who could ask the Scottish Parliament to remove Professor Brown.
6. Andrew Welsh MSP, Convener of the Finance Committee who has to approve the SPSO's budget.
7. Duncan McNeil MSP, Convener of the Local Government and Communities Committee. The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
SPSO reports directly to this committee.
8. Mr Robert Black, Auditor General, Audit Scotland, 18 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2QU.
Audit Scotland is the only organisation which can investigate the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman to determine if the Scottish
Ombudsman is providing a value for money service and it is therefore very important that they are informed of any concerns of the
service provided by the them.
October 2006 update: Audit Scotland have confirmed that they can initiate an examination into the economy, efficiency or
effectiveness of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, but they have no plans now or in the future to conduct such an
investigation and would only initiate such an investigation if instructed by the Scottish Parliament. So if you want Audit Scotland to
investigate the Scottish Ombudsman, then you will need to petition your MSPs to get them to force Audit Scotland to audit the
performance of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman SPSO.
An additional avenue of complaint to the Scottish Parliament is the "Public Petition" route. Public Petitions can be
submitted to the Scottish Parliament by members of public who wish to "raise awareness of a particular campaign and put issues on
the agenda which might not otherwise be considered by the Parliament". The Scottish Parliament document "How to submit a public
petition (link)" describes how a member of the public can submit a petition. If you decide to submit a public petition then the
suggestions on how to make the Ombudsman more accountable on the next page of this web site may be useful when you are
preparing your petition. If you decide to submit a "Public Petition" then contact the Scottish Ombudsman Watch web site and we will
advertise your petition on the site and contact the members of the site to support your "e-petition".
The following information was taken from the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman SPSO submission to the Scottish Parliament's
Finance committee (link) investigation into "Accountability and Governance" in the summer 2006
The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman is accountable to the Parliament ..... through the requirement that the Scottish
Ombudsman lays before Parliament reports of all of the investigations and, annually, a general report on the exercise of my
The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman has sought to improve their accountability and transparency by welcoming feedback and
complaints about their service.
The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002 (link) section 15 - "Reports on investigations" states:
(1) After conducting an investigation, the Ombudsman must-
(a) if the investigation is pursuant to a complaint, send a report of the investigation to the persons specified in
section 11(2) and to the Scottish Ministers,
(b) if the investigation is pursuant to a request, send a report of the investigation to the persons specified in section
11(4) and to the Scottish Ministers,
and must lay a copy of the report before the Parliament.
It has been my experience that the Scottish Ombudsman is highly resistant to all complaints about their service and does not even
acknowledge that a complaint has been made, or if after 18 months they eventually respond they just dismiss the complaint out of
hand. The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman's independence in my view makes them unaccountable.
The Act of Parliament requires the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman to lay before Parliament the results of all investigations
conducted by them. In the information provided by the Scottish Ombudsman under the Freedom of Information request dated 12th
June 2006, the Scottish Ombudsman confirms that, in the last three years, 56 complaints about the Scottish Ombudsman were
received and investigated. The Scottish Ombudsman also confirms that none of the results of these investigations have
been laid before Parliament or reported to the Scottish Parliament in their annual reports.
The Scottish Ombudsman claims they are accountable and provide transparency, so why did they not report any complaints about
themselves to the Parliament as required by the Scottish Parliament's law SPSO act 2002?
It would also be useful when writing to the MSPs and Audit Scotland to ask why the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman is not
reporting any investigations of complaints made about themselves to the Scottish Parliament and Public.
In the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman's 2006 annual report (link) (page 7) the Scottish Ombudsman states:
"We are an alternative to the courts, offering the citizen free and impartial access to justice."
This is what the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman wants the Scottish Public and Parliament to believe. My experience has been
the opposite. The Scottish Public Service Ombudsman has stated that they cannot interpret the law - that is for the
If the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman cannot interpret the law, then they cannot provide an alternative to the
courts, cannot provide the public with justice and should not be calling themselves a quasi-judicial service.
The only way that the Scottish Public will get an accountable and effective Scottish Public Services Ombudsman is by sending formal
complaints to the Scottish Ombudsman and campaigning to make the Scottish Ombudsman publicly acknowledge these complaints
by laying the investigation reports before Parliament as is required by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002.
If you decide to make a formal complaint about the Scottish Ombudsman, then please email Scottish Ombudsman Watch (link) so
that a register of the number of complaints made about the Scottish Ombudsman can be kept and brought to the attention of the
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
It should also be noted that at the end of the reporting period 2004 - 2005 there was 899 complaints outstanding. It can take up to 1
year for the Scottish Ombudsman to review your case before even starting the investigation (and less than 45% of all complaints are
The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) had 919 outstanding complaints at the end of March 2007. So with the increase in
budget from the Parliament and increased number of investigators employed by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, they
spectacularly failed to reduce the number of outstanding complaints at year end. In fact it went up by 20 outstanding complaints from
the 899 outstanding complaints they had at March 2006. Also 33% of the outstanding complaints were submitted more than one
year ago and one even dated back to October 2002. (Yes five years and the complaints have still not been investigated
SPSO outstanding complaints versus date submitted at March 2007 (link)
The next page on this web site details some suggestion on how the Scottish Parliament could make the Scottish Public Services
Ombudsman more accountable.
Link to Step 6. How to make the SPSO more accountable
spso Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Watch
Campaigning for a more accountable & effective Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
|SPSO Annual report
||Number of enquiries
|Reporting period (April to March)
||Number of complaints made about the decisions made
by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
|2006 - 2007
|2007 - 2008
How to complain about the Scottish Ombudsman