Gloucestershire County Council (19 001 191)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 05 Jul 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms A’s complaint about the actions of the Council between 2016 and 2018 when it received allegations about her husband. This is because he could not say there is any fault with the actions taken by the Council or add to the Council’s responses or make a finding of the kind Ms A wants.

The complaint

  1. Ms A complains about the way she was treated by the Council’s Children’s Services Department between 2016 and 2018 when it received malicious allegations from her ex-partner regarding her current husband. Ms A says the Council accused her of putting her children in harm’s way, made up records and generally behaved appallingly towards her treating her with contempt. Ms A says she did nothing wrong and is unhappy that the same people have been dealing with her complaints. Ms A says records contain lies and false allegations about her. Ms A wants a face to face discussion with the Council, but not the two people dealing with her complaints, so she can tell them how she feels.

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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 or continue with an investigation if we believe:
  • it is unlikely we would find fault, or
  • the fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained, or
  • the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement, or
  • it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
  • 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 disucssed the concerns with Ms A and considered the information and documentation she and the Council provided. I sent Ms A a copy of my draft decision for comment.

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What I found

  1. Ms A is unhappy with the way she feels she has been treated by the Council since 2016 when it received allegations about her husband and concerns about the safety of her children.
  2. The Council had ongoing involvement with Ms A and her children between 2016 and 2018, even though Ms A has clearly stated she did not want involvement with it. The Council responded to her concerns in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. The Council’s responses acknowledge her views, clearly state why it is involved, what the concerns about her partner are and why these concerns pose a risk to children.
  3. The Council acknowledged that Ms A did not want any involvement and explained the legal responsibility it has to protect children and remain involved with her children whilst plans to protect them were in place.
  4. Ms A has received several responses to her complaints from different people in the organisation. The Ombudsman cannot tell councils who should respond to complaints or how to allocate its resources. Ms A disputed the content of the records and minutes of the meetings and says she was not listened to. The Council explained why it did not agree with her views and acknowledged she finds Children’s Service’s involvement and the decisions they made to be distressing and difficult to accept. While Ms A feels she has not been listened to the Ombudsman could not say there is any fault with the actions taken by the Council. Ms A can ask the Council to keep a record of her views of the inaccuracies and incorrect records and minutes on the file to be viewed alongside those of the Councils.
  5. Ms A has asked the Council to remove all information about her and her children from its databases. The Council explained it must keep the records of its involvement with her and her family. It has advised her she can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) if she feels it has not complied with her request for deletion of data. The Ombudsman could not add to this.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because he could not say there is any fault with the actions taken by the Council or add to the Council’s responses or make a finding of the kind Ms A wants.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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