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Plymouth City Council (19 013 740)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 17 Jan 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman should not investigate Mr J’s complaint about the actions of social workers involved with his family, and the way the Council handled his data. This is because other organisations are better placed to the consider the issues Mr J has raised.

The complaint

  1. Mr J complains about the actions of social workers involved with his family, and says the Council has failed to handle his data correctly. He says that this has set back his mental health recovery.

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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 there is another body better placed to consider this complaint, or if it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered the information provided by Mr J with his complaint and given him the opportunity to comment on my draft decision.

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What I found

  1. The Council became involved with Mr J’s family after he separated from his partner. Mr J is unhappy about the actions of social workers and how they handled his data.
  2. We do not investigate professional misconduct. Social Work England is better placed than we are, to consider Mr J’s concern about the professionalism of social workers.
  3. We do not investigate data handling. The Information Commissioner’s Office is better placed than we are, to consider this part of Mr J’s complaint.
  4. We do investigate complaints about administrative fault. In correspondence with the Council, Mr J has referred to a meeting which was not rearranged, and minutes of meetings which he had not received. The Council has put these matters right and we could not achieve anything more for Mr J here.
  5. Mr J also complains about the way the Council has handled his complaint. 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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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because other organisations are better placed to the consider the issues Mr J has raised.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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