Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 20 Feb 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about the conduct of a Section 47 child protection investigation. This is because there is nothing further that he could add to the Council’s investigation and response.
- The complainant, who I refer to here as Mr B says that the Council:
- Inappropriately interviewed his daughter, D, for whom he has parental responsibility, without his consent;
- Did not provide him with sufficient information about why she was interviewed; and
- Delayed in responding to his complaint.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information provided by Mr B and I sent him a draft decision for his comments.
What I found
- The Council received a safeguarding referral concerning D following an incident of domestic violence involving D’s mother. The Council has a statutory duty to carry out safeguarding checks in accordance with section 47 of the Children Act 1989, where it is suspected a child may be at risk of significant harm. The purpose of any Section 47 enquiry is to determine whether any further action is required to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child who is the subject of the enquiry.
- In this case, no need was found for social services to have further involvement with D, and the case was closed. There is no fault in the Council’s actions.
- Mr B complained that he was not asked for his consent for D to be interviewed, and was not given adequate information about what happened for him to be assured of D’s safety.
- The Council’s stage two complaint response explains that parental consent is not needed for Section 47 enquiries, although it did receive consent from D’s mother, with whom she is resident.
- However, the Council did uphold Mr B’s complaint about the lack of information provided to him, and it has now apologised and remedied this.
- Mr B has complained to the Ombudsman, but there is nothing further that we could add to the Council’s investigation.
- We will also not consider Mr B’s complaint about delay in the Council’s response as we do not look at complaints about the complaints process where we are not investigating the substantive issue.
- I will not investigate this complaint. This is because there is nothing that further consideration could add to the Council’s investigation.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman