The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We stopped investigating a complaint about a council’s response to allegations of abuse because relevant evidence is not available.
- London Borough of Hackney (the Council) failed to respond to allegations Mr X received poor care and was abused and neglected.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We may investigate matters coming to our attention during an investigation, if we consider that a member of the public who has not complained may have suffered an injustice as a result. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26D and 34E, as amended)
- We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered information from a complainant during a different investigation.
What I found
- Mr X is an adult with severe disabilities who receives 24-hour care, arranged and funded by the Council. While investigating a complaint about a safeguarding investigation into Mr X’s housemate’s care, I considered Mr X may have suffered injustice.
- I started an investigation into Mr X’s care under the powers described in paragraph two and asked the Council for safeguarding records into Mr X’s care. In January 2020, the Council suffered an attack on its computer server resulting in the loss of data. Information on the Council’s website said organised criminals were responsible and it was working with the National Crime Agency.
- The Council told me it had no access to relevant assessments, care plans and safeguarding records about Mr X as these were lost during the cyber-attack. At the time of writing, there is no way of telling whether this information will ever be retrieved.
- I have discontinued my investigation (stopped investigating the complaint) because the evidence I need to investigate this issue is not available.
- I have stopped investigating this complaint because relevant evidence is not available for me to reach a finding.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman