Manchester City Council (19 010 176)

Category : Children's care services > Adoption

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 26 Nov 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman should not investigate Mrs X’s complaint about the Council’s response to her whistleblowing report. The events central to her report are historic and there are no compelling reasons the late complaint rule should not apply.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mrs X, complains about the Council’s whistleblowing procedures.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)
  2. It is not a good use of public resources to investigate complaints about complaint procedures, if we are unable to deal with the substantive issue.

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mrs X provided with her complaint, the Council’s responses which it provided, and Mrs X’s previous complaints. I considered Mrs X comments on a draft version of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Mrs X says that in 2007 and 2011 a headteacher made two malicious allegations against her. Mrs X went on to apply to be an adopter. She says the Council should have properly investigated the allegations during that process.
  2. Mrs X says in April 2019 she contacted the Council’s whistleblowing team. She says the Council failed to follow its procedure. Mrs X says that until her name is cleared, she will not be able to register to foster or adopt.

Analysis

  1. The events Mrs X reported to the whistleblowing team are over 8 years old. We should not investigate those events because there are no clear reasons the late complaint rule should not apply because
    • I am not confident there is a realistic prospect of reaching a sound, fair, and meaningful decision, and
    • I am not satisfied Mrs X could not reasonably be expected to have complained sooner. We investigated and decided the events surrounding Mrs X’s failed adopter’s application in 2015 and 2016. Mrs X says we should have investigated specifically the lack of a safeguarding investigation into the allegations during those investigations. If the 2015 and 2016 complaints investigations did not cover Mrs X’s complaint properly, she should have raised that at the time.
  2. As we will not investigate the events central to the whistle blowing report, we also will not look at the way the Council responded to Mrs X’s report. We are not a prescribed body to whom a protected disclosure can be made.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because there are no good reasons the late complaint rule should not apply to the events central to the recent whistleblowing allegation.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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