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Kent County Council (18 017 094)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 26 Mar 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr A’s complaint about the actions of social workers. The complaint is late and there are insufficient grounds to investigate it now.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will refer to as Mr A, complains that the Council used inaccurate information in the course of child protection action.

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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. 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 further investigation will lead to a different outcome, or we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered what Mr A has said in support of his complaint and I have spoken to the Council.

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What I found

  1. The Council was involved with Mr A’s family between December 2016 and August 2018. It carried out child protection enquiry following a referral from the police. Mr A complains about the actions of social workers at the beginning of the Council’s involvement. He complains that they used incorrect information obtained from his counsellor and denied him the right of reply.
  2. The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr A’s complaint because it is late. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain about something a Council has done. The Ombudsman has the discretion to consider late complaints when it is appropriate to do so but that is not the case here.
  3. The Council’s involvement with Mr A ended in August 2018 and it would have been reasonable to expect him to have made his complaint before now. It is also the case that investigation would be unlikely to achieve anything significant, or that it would lead to a different outcome. The process of child protection and child in need action has concluded and the Ombudsman’s involvement would not achieve anything for Mr A.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because the complaint is late and there are insufficient grounds to investigate it now.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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