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Cumbria County Council (21 002 895)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 29 Jul 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mrs B’s complaint that the Council failed to carry out a risk assessment. This is because investigation would not lead to a different outcome.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will refer to as Mrs B, complains that the Council failed to complete a proper assessment of the risk to a looked after child.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Ombudsman investigates 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 with an investigation if we decide:
  • we could not add to any previous investigation by the organisation, or
  • further investigation would not lead to a different outcome.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))

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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. The complainant has had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision.

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My assessment

  1. Mrs B and her husband had care of a child under a special guardianship order. The child became looked after by the Council in 2019.
  2. Mrs B complains that the Council failed to carry out a proper risk assessment when placing the child. It placed her in a residential setting where she took part in sexual activity. Mrs B regards this as amounting to sexual abuse and argues it was the result of fault on the Council’s part.
  3. Mrs B complained to the Council, which considered the matter under the statutory procedure for children’s services complaints. The key aspect of the complaint, that the Council failed to adequately safeguard the child while in its care, was upheld. The Council fully accepted the Stage 2 findings and the recommendations made by the investigating officer. Mrs B declined her right to take the matter to the final stage of the complaint procedure.
  4. We will not investigate Mrs B’s complaint because there is nothing significant to be gained by doing so. The key matters have been upheld and it is not for the Ombudsman to reinvestigate them. If Mrs B was unhappy with the Stage 2 recommendations, her recourse was to go to Stage 3. Our involvement is not warranted because it would not lead to a different outcome.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate this complaint. This is because investigation would not lead to a different outcome.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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