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Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council (18 017 319)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 27 Mar 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint that the Council closed the complainant’s complaint about a social worker because Mr X did not attend a meeting. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I refer to as Mr X, says the Council closed his complaint about his son’s social worker because he was unable to attend a meeting.

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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’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start an investigation if we believe it is unlikely we would find fault. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
  2. The Ombudsman does not consider a complaint until it has completed the Council’s complaints procedure.

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I read the complaint and got some information from the Council. I considered comments Mr X made in response to a draft of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr X contacted the Council on 7 January to complain about his son’s social worker. The Council arranged a meeting for 16 January to discuss the complaint. Mr X confirmed the meeting but did not attend. Mr X says he told the Council he was unable to attend. The Council tried to call Mr X but was unbale to reach him. The Council closed the complaint but invited Mr X to get in touch.
  2. Mr X contacted the Council on 19 January to say he still wanted to pursue the complaint. The Council arranged a meeting for 11 February. This was the earliest time that was convenient for Mr X. Mr X then cancelled the meeting. The Council tried to ring Mr X but was unable to reach him.
  3. The Council changed the social worker in the hope this would resolve Mr X’s concerns. It then closed the complaint.
  4. Mr X complains the Council will not investigate his complaint. He wants answers about the way the social worker treated his son. He says he has been treated badly due to his ethnic background and alleges the social worker has hidden agendas.


  1. I will not start an investigation because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council. The Council acted appropriately by arranging two meetings with Mr X, trying to call him and changing the social worker. There is nothing more I would have expected it to do. If Mr X wants to continue his complaint about the social worker he will need to contact the Council again and engage in the complaints process. The Ombudsman will not consider the complaint about the social worker until Mr X has completed the Council’s complaints process.

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Final decision

  1. I will not start an investigation because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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