No complaints as Camden Council lifts UK first


March 26, 2001

Camden Council has become the first local authority in the UK to receive a British Standards Institution registration for the way it successfully handles more than 2,000 annual complaints.

Trailblazers in the area of complaints' management, Camden actively encourages dissatisfied customers to complain, in the knowledge that this ultimately helps improve its services. The Council has had a dedicated team of complaints' managers and a Complaints Unit since 1991. With the advent of BSI's new Scheme, Camden is for the first time able to get a third party endorsement of the excellence of its procedures.

CMSAS 86:2000 the Complaints Management System Assessment Specification audits how an organization implements its complaints procedure. Camden Council is the fourth organization worldwide to gain the award.

Camden is the only council in Britain that proactively encourages children to complain about its services, in recognition of their human rights. Last year 61 complaints were received from children and this year's total is expected to top 100 complaints from youngsters on anything from problems at school to housing complaints. Camden is also the only council in the UK that offers training to other local authorities on managing complaints.

Around half of Camden's complaints are about housing issues and some 20% relate to environment services like street cleaning, planning permissions and road repairs. The remainder reflects the wide range of issues the Council deals with from social services, residential care and education services to the leisure department and libraries. Only a very small number are about council tax. Each complaint is acknowledged and dealt with within a prescribed time frame up to a maximum of 30 working days.

Nick Moy, BSI director of Global Quality Services said, "The staff at Camden have shown considerable energy and enthusiasm in fulfilling the requirements of BSI's new Complaints Management Scheme. We at BSI are delighted they are the first local authority in the country to gain this accolade."

Nick Moy continued, "The BSI Scheme underlines that customers need an open, effective and easy complaints system, while staff need adequate resources and training to enable the system to work effectively. The Scheme also emphasises senior management involvement in complaint procedures and recognises the value of monitoring complaints to help organizations improve their performance."

Peter Swingler, Head of Camden's Central Complaints Unit says "Camden Council has made a virtue out of asking customers to complain we believe, by encouraging complaints, we gain a second chance to capture the loyalty and approval of our customers and improve our services. We have always had a positive complaints procedure but the BSI Scheme provides an open demonstration of our commitment to providing the best service possible."

BSI helps organisations get the most value from their management systems through registration to international standards by a process-driven auditing approach. In addition to registering firms to the complaints management standard, BSI registers organisations to standards covering the management of quality, information security, environmental best practice, and occupational health and safety.


Wilma Tulloch on +44 (0)20 8996 6330 OR
Marc Edney on +44 (0)20 8996 6330