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Isle of Wight Council (17 012 287)

Category : Adult care services > Safeguarding

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 06 Jul 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Council failed to properly investigate an allegation made by a vulnerable person against his carer, Mr X. The Council’s safeguarding investigation was flawed. The Council also failed to present information in a fair and transparent way during the safeguarding investigation.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains the Council failed to properly investigate a safeguarding matter and provide an opportunity for him to challenge unfounded assertions he hit a vulnerable person, Mr Y, in his care.
  2. Mr & Mrs X complain the Council removed Mr Y from their care and they have no contact with him.
  3. Mr & Mrs X complain the Council wrongly accused them of fraud. It alleged they continued to accept an accommodation allowance for Mr Y after he left their home.
  4. Mr & Mrs X says the unfounded allegations affects their ability to care for others in future

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word fault to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. If there has been fault which has caused an injustice, we may suggest a remedy. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26(1) and 26A(1), as amended)
  2. If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have;
  • considered the complaint and discussed it with Mr X;
  • considered the correspondence between Mr X and the Council, including the Council’s response to the complaint;
  • made enquiries, and further enquiries of the Council and considered the responses;
  • taken account of relevant legislation.
  • provided a draft of this statement to Mr X and the Council, and considered the comments made.

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What I found

  1. Section 42 of the Care Act 2014 (the Act) defines an adult at risk as an adult who:
  • has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs) and;
  • is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect; and
  • as a result of those needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect;
  • the local authority retains the responsibility for overseeing a safeguarding enquiry and ensuring that any investigation satisfies its duty under section 42 to decide what action (if any) is necessary to help and protect the adult, and to ensure that such action is taken when necessary.
  1. The Act sets out a clear legal framework for how local authorities and other parts of the system should protect adults at risk of abuse or neglect. It must:
  • lead a multi-agency local adult safeguarding system that seeks to prevent abuse and neglect and stop it quickly when it happens;
  • make enquiries, or request others to make them, when it thinks an adult with care and support needs may be at risk of abuse or neglect and,
  • determine what action may be needed.
  1. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) and the Care Act work together to promote the empowerment, safety and wellbeing of adults with care and support needs. Section 44 of the MCA prioritises people’s safety by making willful neglect or mistreatment of an adult who lacks capacity to make decisions a criminal offence.
  2. There is nothing in the Care Act that replaces or undermines the MCA when it comes to making decisions with or on behalf of adults who lack capacity. There are five principles of the Act that need consideration:
  • Assume that a person has capacity to make decisions, unless there is evidence otherwise.
  • Do all you can to maximise a person’s capacity.
  • Unwise or eccentric decisions do not in themselves prove lack of capacity.
  • If you are making a decision for or about a person who lacks capacity, act in their best interests.
  • Look for the least restrictive option that will meet the need.

Background

  1. Mr Y is 26 years old. He has Downs Syndrome. He moved into Mr & Mrs X’s home when he was 11 years old.
  2. Before the arrival of Mr Y, Mr & Mrs X were foster carers. Mr X says that because Mr Y had complex needs they decided not to take in any other foster children and commit to providing a long-term home for Mr Y. Mr Y’s biological father and stepmother visit him approximately twice a year with telephone contact in between.
  3. Mr X says Mr Y has been a valued family member and they treated him as they would their other family members. Mr Y calls Mr & Mrs X ‘mum & dad’. Mr & Mrs X say Mr Y has benefited from being part of a secure family. He has enjoyed fourteen family holidays with Mr & Mrs X and their extended family.
  4. Mr X says on 20 April 2017 Mr Y went to the day-centre as usual. The family had just returned from a holiday in France. Around mid-afternoon a social worker telephoned Mrs X to say Mr Y had made an allegation against Mr X and that he would not be returning home. The social worker did not say what the allegation was, but did say the police were involved.
  5. Mr X says he did not hear from the social worker again until approximately two weeks later when the social worker telephoned to say she would be collecting some of Mr Y’s clothes and asked for £200 from Mr Y’s allowance. Mr X complied with this request.
  6. Mr X says he heard nothing further. After eight weeks, he contacted the social worker to ask for an update. The social worker told him there was a meeting planned for the following week, and Mr & Mrs X were invited. The social worker went onto say the Council had concluded on the allegation made. Mr X asked how it could do so when no-one from either the Council or the police had spoken to him, his wife, or extended family.
  7. Mr X says he and his wife attended the meeting the following week (21 June 2017). Mr X says he expected he would be given the opportunity to discuss the matter, and to take Mr Y home. Mr X says he was shocked and devastated when he realised this was not the case, and it was likely he and his wife would not see Mr Y again.
  8. During the meeting, the social worker explained the nature of allegation, that Mr Y had told a staff member of the day centre that Mr X hit him on the head. This happened after Mr Y and Mr X’s young grandson had been “winding each other up”. Mr X says this was the first time he knew what the allegation was. Mr X says the he did not hit Mr Y. Mr X said he wanted to challenge the decision. The Council said “the outcome of the best interest decision can be challenged via the Court of Protection. The Court of Protection can authorise where the best place is for [Mr Y] to live”.
  9. Mr X says he received the minutes of the safeguarding meeting two weeks later. Mr X sent an email to the Council on 30 June 2017 to complain about inaccuracies. He also complained that neither he nor his wife had been interviewed as part of the safeguarding investigation and given the opportunity to respond to the allegation. He went on to say he believed the Council had treated him badly and that it had not considered that Mr Y had a history of making false allegations to attract attention.
  10. Mr X was particularly concerned about a comment made by the social worker which is recorded in the minutes which says “police remain clear they did not disbelieve [Mr Y’s] account and felt he should not return to live with [Mr & Mrs X].
  11. Mr X believes the social worker did not give the police an accurate picture of Mr Y’s tendency to say things for attention and that he had a history of making bogus allegations.
  12. Mr X also sent an email to the police asking to meet to discuss the matter. He asked the police to investigate the incident between his grandson and Mr Y in more detail in the hope it would give context to the alleged incident and hopefully reveal a more accurate picture of the events. The police did not interview Mr & Mrs X.
  13. Mr X says the Council are aware Mr Y has a history of regularly telling ‘stories’, most of which tend to be untrue. Mr X says Mr Y’s biological father was aware of this. He recounts several incidents when Mr Y had been out for the day with his biological father and on returning home Mr Y’s father told Mr X that Mr Y had said Mr X was moving to a new house, buying a motorbike etc, none of which were true.
  14. Mr X says this is not the first time Mr Y has made allegations, against him and staff members at the day centre, all of which were unfounded. He says his tendency to say things to attract attention is documented in assessment and support plans.
  15. Mr & Mrs X says they both miss having Mr Y as part of their family.
  16. Mr X is distressed he has been unfairly found to have abused Mr Y.

The Council’s actions following the allegation by Mr Y

  1. The Council received a referral from Mr Y’s day centre on 19 April 2017 reporting Mr Y had told staff Mr X had hit him on the head during a family holiday. The incident arose out of a disagreement between Mr X’s young grandson and Mr Y.
  2. On receiving the referral, the Council says it reviewed the information and decided Mr Y was not at risk of immediate harm. The referral was allocated to a social worker to investigate”. Mr Y returned home to Mr & Mrs X that evening.
  3. A social worker visited Mr Y at the day centre the following day, 20 April 2017. She interviewed Mr Y. A staff member from the day centre was also present. Mr Y re-iterated the allegation he made to the day centre staff. In response to my enquiries the Council says “[Mr Y] presented as frightened about going home”.
  4. The records show the social worker asked Mr Y “if he felt safe to go home. He said yes and no… I asked do you think you will be in trouble and he said yes… [Mr Y] was worried about not going home and said he wanted to go back home”.
  5. The social worker consulted a manager. A decision was made to provide “a place of safety” for Mr Y overnight so the matter could be referred to the police.
  6. The social worker discussed the matter with two senior council officers. The Council recorded the reasons for its decision to refer the matter to the police, “Over the last two or three years there have been several safeguarding concerns regarding Mr & Mrs [X] and their care of Mr [Y], with concerns about their treatment of him as a ‘child’ and overly punitive measures to ‘punish him’. As a consequence of this we decided to make a Best Interests decision to provide a place of safety tonight for [Mr Y] whilst this allegation is investigated by the police”.
  7. Mr Y was accommodated on a temporary basis. The Council made a referral to the police.
  8. The social worker telephoned Mr & Mrs X to inform them Mr Y would not be returning home. The social worker recorded Mrs X’s response “what’s he been saying now, oh we’ve been here before”. The social worker told Mrs X she could not discuss the details of the allegation and that she would update them about “with what will happen next”.
  9. The Council completed an assessment of Mr Y’s capacity on 26 April 2017. The decision in question being, “Is [Mr Y] able to understand the potential risks to him following his recent disclosures of alleged abuse if he returned to live with the alleged perpetrator. Is [Mr Y] able to make a decision about where he should live”. The outcome concluded Mr Y was not able to decide about risks, neither was he able to decide about where he should live long term.
  10. On 24 April 2017, the social worker accompanied a police officer to visit Mr Y at the day centre. The social worker recorded a summary of the police interview with Mr Y. Mr Y reiterated the allegation against Mr X.
  11. After the interview, the police officer told the social worker the police had two previous records of Mr Y alleging Mr X had hit him, in 2007 and 2008. The records show the social worker comments to the police officer “I explained my general concerns about the level of control that [Mr & Mrs X] have around [Mr Y] and the lack of choice he appears to have”. The police officer said she would be ‘talking to’ Mr & Mrs X. and possibly other members of the family.
  12. The social worker discussed the situation with a senior council officer. A decision was made for Mr Y to remain in his temporary placement for a further month.
  13. The Council contacted Mr Y’s biological father and stepmother to inform them Mr Y had been removed from Mr & Mrs X’’s home, and there was a safeguarding investigation underway. Mr Y’s biological father told the social worker they fully supported [ Mr & Mrs X], and they felt that whatever the allegation was, this would be untrue. They confirmed to [social worker] that they were in regular contact with [Mr & Mrs X] about this matter, and therefore the Council deemed it would be inappropriate for [parents] to have contact with [Mr Y] at this point in time”.
  14. Mr Y’s biological father sent an email to the Council saying “…it is a real worry to us that [Mr Y] like [his sister] may have fantasies for want of a better word”. The social worker replied saying “I can understand that you feel [Mr Y] makes things up…”.
  15. The Council says in the days immediately after the allegation Mr Y said he did not want to speak with his biological father “because he was fearful he would be in ‘trouble’.
  16. On 26 April 2017, the social worker sent an email to Mr Y’s biological father to say a decision had been made to cancel their impending visit to see Mr Y that weekend. The social worker said, “This is to protect any evidence they need to gather and avoid putting yourselves at risk of discussing the concerns with Mr Y”.
  17. On 22 May 2017, the police formally interviewed Mr Y. The social worker was not present in the room but listened to the interview through headphones. Following the interview, the social worker says the police officer sought reassurance from her that Mr Y would not return to live with Mr & Mrs X. The social worker says the police officer said “…she would have grave concerns about his wellbeing if this happened”. Neither the Council nor the police have records which confirm the police officer’s comments. Following the interview, the social worker reported the police officer’s comments to a manager and sought advice about how to proceed. It was decided to commence a formal safeguarding process.
  18. On 15 June 2017, the Council held a ‘Safeguarding Adults Planning Meeting’. Mr Y’s biological father and step-mother were present. The social worker set out the allegations. She explained Mr Y had been interviewed by the police and he had “struggled with the sequence of events so his account did not match exactly but he reported that he was ‘hit’ all the time by [Mr X]. The social worker explained a further police interview with Mr Y had taken place in May and Mr Y had been more confused about the sequence of events.
  19. The social worker also explained the police had decided the allegations did not meet the threshold for any formal action against Mr & Mrs X, and no further action from the police was planned. The social worker reiterated her previous comment that the “Police remain clear they did not disbelieve [Mr Y’s] account and felt he should not return to live with [Mr & Mrs X].
  20. Council officers discussed previous concerns about some lifestyle restrictions Mr X made about Mr Y. These were not new and no further investigation was deemed necessary at the time the concerns were raised.
  21. The social worker said Mr & Mrs X were foster carers and a notification had been sent to the relevant department “to ensure risks are known prior to any future consideration of foster placements”.
  22. The social worker said Mr Y was consistent in his view that he did not wish to return to live with Mr & Mrs X but he had said he missed Mrs X and wanted to see her in the future.
  23. The social worker confirmed Mr Y was living in a residential home for people with learning disabilities.
  24. The social worker confirmed that Mr & Mrs X were still not aware of the allegations made.
  25. The Council concluded the allegation as ‘substantiated’, and that, “A meeting will be held with [Mr & Mrs X] to explain the outcome of the safeguarding enquiry”.
  26. On 4 July 2017, the social worker gathered information from Mr Y’s temporary residential care placement to inform a ‘Best Interest Decision’ about where Mr Y should live. The manager of the residential care home, said Mr Y would benefit from a supported living facility but would need “strict boundaries”. She went on to say “[Mr Y] does exaggerate all the time but again we find that firstly listen then try bring him into a realistic conversation be it about money, food or people”.
  27. The social worker completed a needs assessment of Mr Y on 31 July 2017. The assessment is detailed and comprehensive. The assessment records that Mr Y seeks attention when the focus of conversation is not on him “…and will try to get people’s attention in any way”. It further records “can seek opportunities to draw attention to himself. He can become quite challenging at times towards others and will cause conflict…”. The assessment records Mr Y is struggling with the “huge change” in his life and had been referred for psychological support.
  28. There are numerous Council records which record that Mr Y has a vivid imagination but this usually relates to aspirations- like being a worker in a residential care home, owning a motorbike, but not allegations of assault, however the Council acknowledges Mr Y has previously made allegations of assault which prompted a safeguarding investigation but on each occasion the allegations were unfounded.
  29. The Council later appointed Mr Y’s biological father as his advocate, the Council says this was Mr Y’s wish. I note the Council’s records show Mr Y’s father sent an email to the Council asking to the see the police report, saying he could not understand why he had not been provided with this information. It is unclear if the Council provided this information.

My enquiries of the Council

  1. As part of my investigation I asked the Council for details of any previous allegations made by Mr Y. The records show Mr Y made numerous allegations over the years. The Council investigated all the allegations proportionality. The Council’s records dated 2013, show the Council investigated concerns expressed by the day centre about decisions Mr X made about Mr Y. The record dated 5 October 2013 shows the Council’s response which says, “We have experience that [Mr Y] can be challenging he’s behaviour can be difficult and his is known to lie and fabricate stories”. In December 2013, the social worker recorded “I have carried out investigations and have no on-going concerns about [Mr Y’s] home life, or his carers ability to meet his needs at home at this time”.
  2. On 12 January 2017, the social worker visited Mr & Mrs X to investigate claims they had refused to allow Mr Y to attend a day centre Christmas lunch as a ‘punishment’ for being rude to staff member at the day centre. Following a discussion with Mr & Mrs X the social worker recorded “I am satisfied that there are no further concerns at this time”.

The allegations of fraud

  1. In its response to my enquiries the Council says, “significant fraud has taken place”. The Council says “the direct payment personal budget remained in payment from the time [Mr Y] left their home (19 April 2017) and whilst the Police and safeguarding investigations took place. Until the outcome of these investigations was determined and a firm plan for [Mr Y’s] future was determined the Council was unable to stop the payments to the direct payment account”. The Council goes on to say “During the period 24 April 2017 and 27 September 2017, [Mr & Mrs X] paid themselves a total [sum] from the direct payment personal budget account. [Mr Y] was not living with them at any point during this period. According to fair and legal process, the Council requested that [Mr & Mrs X] repaid a total of [sum] to the Council for the period 26 July 2017 until 27 September 2017(i.e the end of the notice period until they stopped taking payments when there was no money left in the account”. Mr X says the Council told him he would continue to receive payments whilst Mr Y’s belongings were in his home. Mr X has provided documentary evidence to support this. The Council alleges Mr X fraudulently completed a passport application for Mr Y. It says Mr Y is unable to sign his name yet his signature is on the passport. Mr X says for many years Mrs X wrote out Mr Y’s name clearly, and Mr Y would copy this onto cards and his passport. Mr X says he had gained nothing from the situation. He also said Mr Y had enjoyed fourteen foreign holidays with the family.

Analysis

  1. It is not my role to determine whether the allegations Mr Y made against Mr X have any substance. Neither is it my role to decide where Mr Y should live. My role is to determine if, following the allegation, the Council acted properly.
  2. A safeguarding investigation should include co-ordinating and collecting information about the safeguarding concern and the context in which it happened. I can see no evidence that the Council considered the context of the allegation or that Mr Y had made previous unfounded allegations. This is fault.
  3. Opportunities must always be given to allow the views of the alleged perpetrator to be included in the safeguarding process, unless to do so would threaten the safety of the alleged victim. There was no good reason not to do so in this instance as Mr X had no contact with Mr Y. Mr X had been subject to such enquiries previously when Mr Y made allegations. Mr X cooperated with these enquiries and acted appropriately. There was no reason to suggest he would act differently on this occasion.
  4. I find the Council failed to act properly immediately following the allegations and during the safeguarding investigation. Consequently, the outcome of the safeguarding investigation is flawed. Any action taken by Councils to safeguard vulnerable adults from abuse should be proportionate and necessary to the perceived level of risk and seriousness. The Council failed to give any proper consideration to either.
  5. The Council did not take reasonable steps to establish whether, on the balance of probability, Mr X acted as alleged. The first and any subsequent safeguarding strategy discussion should have considered the current allegation in the context of any previous allegations. The Council failed to do so.
  6. The Council’s records show Mr Y has made bogus allegations before, and that he has a vivid imagination and will say things to attract attention. The Council says Mr Y was fearful after making the allegation. The records do no not support this claim, Mr Y’s comments were confused but he was clear about his fear he would not return home
  7. The role of the police is to investigate any possible criminal offence. The police did not interview Mr & Mrs X.
  8. In response to my enquiries the Council says it did not engage with Mr & Mrs X during the safeguarding investigation because the police were taking the lead. This is inaccurate. The police took no action other than to interview Mr Y.
  9. Councils adult services departments should take the lead role in coordinating safeguarding adults who may be at risk. The police lead on all criminal investigations. However, in this case the police did not interview Mr X or his wife. Mr X and his wife had no contact with the police over the allegation made by Mr Y.
  10. The Council should have interviewed Mr & Mrs X, and possibly other people present at the time of the alleged incident. It should not have relied on a police interview of Mr Y to inform its decision of the probability of the alleged incident.
  11. An investigating professional should decide if the alleged perpetrator should attend the safeguarding assessment/investigation meeting, in some cases, it will not be appropriate. However, the Chair should hear and consider the alleged perpetrator’s views. The Council did not ensure this happened. It relied solely on information from the social worker. This information was not objective. People have a right to be treated fairly during any investigation. The Council failed to offer Mr & Mrs X the opportunity to respond to the allegations made. This goes against the principles of natural justice.
  12. In determining whether Mr Y should return to Mr & Mrs X the council says a police officer told the social worker that in her opinion Mr Y should not return to Mr & Mrs X because she feared for his wellbeing, subsequently Mr Y was accommodated elsewhere. There are no records which confirm the police officer’s comments. In any event a decision to relocate a vulnerable person from a long- term placement should not be based on individual opinion. It should be based on a proper assessment of the facts, risks and the needs of the person. It should also follow the principles of the Mental Capacity Act and Best Interests.
  13. It should be noted that shortly after Mr Y made the allegation he told the social worker he did not want to see his biological father as he was frightened of being in trouble. Mr Y made the same comment about Mr X, that he would be in trouble. This was the basis of the Council’s decision not to allow Mr Y to return to Mr & Mrs X’s home. Mr Y has since gone onto have a meaningful relationship with his biological father.
  14. Some of the information the Council relied on in the safeguarding investigation had no evidential basis. This may have adversely affected Mr Y. He was removed from a long-term placement where he had been since he was a child. The records show the change in his lifestyle has caused him distress.
  15. The records also show Mr Y expressed a wish to see Mrs X. The Council has not taken any action in relation to this. This restriction may amount to a deprivation of Mr Y’s liberty. There is no evidence the Council properly considered this.
  16. During the social worker’s initial interview with Mr Y she asked leading questions. She asked Mr Y if thought he would be in trouble. Asking leading questions is not good interviewing practice. Responses to leading questions may be determined more by the manner of questioning than by valid remembering
  17. Questions should be open-ended and worded in such a way as to enable a vulnerable person to provide more information about an event which is not leading, suggestive or putting them under pressure.
  18. The social worker said Mr Y appeared fearful about returning home. The records show when asked about this Mr Y replied yes and no, and that he was worried about not returning home. The social worker did not relay this information accurately. Based on the information the social worker provided a decision was made to place Mr Y in temporary accommodation. Responses to allegations should be proportionate, the least intrusive and appropriate to the risk presented. The Council failed to properly consider the risks of Mr Y returning to Mr & Mrs X. There is no evidence which supports the Council’s view that Mr Y would have been at risk.
  19. Councils should ensure safeguarding investigations are sufficiently independent. The social worker’s comments to the police about her ‘general concerns’ were not objective. She referred to previous concerns about the care Mr & Mrs X provided but did not say that every concern had been investigated and no further action was taken other than the social worker providing advice and guidance to Mr & Mrs X.
  20. I have seen no records to show the social worker informed the police that Mr Y had a history of making allegations and that he was known to say things to attract attention. This is fault.
  21. The Council has provided me with copies of letters Mr X wrote to the day centre each time Mr X prohibited Mr Y from an activity. Whether the action Mr X took was right or wrong he was open and transparent about it. If the Council was satisfied with the outcome of its investigations at the time it is unclear why it considers these concerns now support the recent claims made by Mr Y.
  22. The social worker did not present an accurate and fair picture of events at the outset. This may have adversely affected the whole process. This is fault. I am also concerned this may also have had an impact on Mr Y’s biological father.
  23. The Council’s restriction on Mr Y having contact with his biological father in the weeks after Mr Y made the allegation may have been a deprivation of liberty. There is no evidence to show the Council considered this. This is fault

Allegations of fraud

  1. I am concerned about the way in which the Council presented information about alleged financial fraud by Mr & Mrs X. The information related specifically to payments Mr & Mrs X received for Mr Y’s care after Mr Y left their care. The Council did not present the information in a fair or objective way. It failed to provide evidence which showed the payments were authorised by the Council’s finance team. This information was provided by Mr X. He provided copies of all emails he sent to the Council about the payments and the Council’s responses. It shows the Council agreed to continue the payments until Mr Y’s belongings were removed from Mr & Mrs X’s home, which was, 21 August 2017. In August 2017 Mr X transferred £12,200 direct payment monies from Mr Y’s personal budget account to a new account managed by someone else.
  2. The emails show that Mr X sent copies of bank statements of Mr Y’s personal budget account to the Council on 16 August 2017 so it could calculate the amount that needed to be repaid. Mr X also expressed concern that unless the Council stopped the payments he would receive a payment in September 2017, he asked the Council “what is going on”. In total Mr X sent four emails to the Council chasing a response.
  3. The Council did not respond and paid Mr & Mrs X the September 2017 payment, this was one month after the payments should have ceased. This was not due to any fault on the part of Mr & Mrs X.
  4. An officer from the Council’s finance team responded to Mr X on 7 September 2017. I have seen a copy of the email, in which the officer says Mr X says “but can I apologise on behalf of the Council that your previous emails were left unanswered. I will need to speak to my line manager who is currently off sick before I can get back to you with an answer”.
  5. Mr X repaid the one months over payment back to the Council after receiving an invoice from the Council on 12 December 2017. He paid the amount in full immediately.
  6. The Council also alleges Mr X fraudulently completed a passport for Mr Y. I have seen no evidence which supports this claim. Mr X has explained his actions. He may not have followed the correct process, but it does not amount to fraud. Mr X assisted Mr Y to complete a passport application. There was no benefit to Mr X.

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Agreed action

  1. The Council has agreed to:
  • undertake a fresh safeguarding investigation and review all the available evidence and information in a fair and objective way, include Mr & Mrs X in the process appropriately and consider any need to interview family members present when the allegation took place;
  • undertake new Best Interests relating to the current situation of Mr Y and Mr & Mrs X, and refer any disagreement to the Court of Protection;
  • provide a full written apology to Mr & Mrs X for the Council’s failure to treat them fairly during the safeguarding process and for its failure to offer Mr X an opportunity to respond to the allegations before the Council reached its conclusion that abuse had taken place;
  • pay Mr X £1000 for the lack of opportunity to respond to the allegation made against him, and the distress caused by the events;
  • pay Mrs X £500 for distress caused by the events;
  • pay Mr & Mrs X £250 for their time and trouble in pursuing the complaint;
  • ensure all officers involved in safeguarding investigations have a good understanding of their roles and responsibilities in line with safeguarding principles;
  • provide a copy of the final decision statement to the police, and any other agency/professionals consulted as part of the safeguarding investigation, this includes Mr Y’s biological father, his current accommodation and day centre;
  • provide me with evidence of all the above action.

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Final decision

  1. The Council failed to properly investigate an allegation made by a vulnerable person against his carer, Mr X. The Council’s safeguarding investigation was flawed. The Council also failed to present information in a fair and transparent way, both during the safeguarding investigation and to this office during the investigation into this complaint.
  2. This has caused significant injustice to Mr & Mrs X, and possibly Mr Y. The above recommendations are a suitable remedy for the injustice caused.
  3. It is on this basis the complaint will be closed.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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