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Hampshire County Council (21 002 558)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 20 Jul 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the conduct of a social worker. This is because there is no evidence of fault in the way the Council dealt with his complaint, and he is also able to raise his concerns with Social Work England.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains the social worker responsible for his children’s care is involved in an intimate relationship with the mother of his children. Mr X says the social worker continuously defends the mother of his children in assessments and meetings.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We do not start or may decide not to continue an investigation if we decide there is not enough evidence of fault to justify investigating, or there is another body better placed to consider this complaint. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by the complainant and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.
  3. Mr X had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision. I considered any comments received before making a final decision.

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My assessment

  1. Our role is to investigate the actions of the Council as a corporate body, not to hold a single officer accountable. If Mr X has concerns about the professionalism or integrity of an individual social worker, it is reasonable to expect him to report his concerns to their professional body, Social Work England.
  2. There is no evidence of fault in way the Council dealt with Mr X’s complaint given the seriousness of the allegation. The Council has said it will consider Mr X’s concerns and take any action it deems necessary. However, the Council says he should not expect a response. This is because the Council is dealing with this as an employment matter. Any investigations are confidential, and Mr X does not have a right to know what the outcome is.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate this complaint. This is because there is no evidence of fault in the way the Council handled Mr X’s complaint and Mr X is also able to raise his concerns with Social Work England.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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