Identifying, understanding, and responding to the multiple complex needs of court service users

This research was commissioned by HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to understand how people with multiple and unmet needs, such as homelessness, mental ill health, problematic substance misuse and criminal justice system experience, can be better supported to navigate courts and tribunals. We focused on the HMCTS contact centre for help or support and interviewed 21 service users and 15 call agents working within the HMCTS contact centre.

It details how service users who identified as vulnerable lacked sufficient support and information to navigate complex court processes, and the barriers they faced to seek help from the HMCTS contact centre. The report also highlights a number of strengths that staff can draw on in their provision of guidance and signposting, and makes several recommendations to support service users with unmet health and social needs better engage with the contact centre including:

  • Using a different approach to questioning;
  • Offering a call back service for those who were emotional, stressed or aggressive on a call;
  • Creating a specialist team that better understands the complex needs of service users.

Miriam Davidson, Head of User Inclusion and Engagement for HMCTS, said:

This piece of research by Revolving Doors has been highly beneficial and informed two important outcomes. Firstly, working with HMCTS staff and court users themselves, we’ve developed a tool for our contact centre staff to have more effective conversations with users to better understand and respond to their needs.

She added:

We’ve also now developed best practice guidance, training and tools for staff to connect users to external support providers on a broad range of topics. The design work for these is almost complete, and we look forward to seeing both initiatives having a positive impact on the experiences of court users.

Read our research report below to find out more.