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Norfolk County Council (21 005 061)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 26 Aug 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the actions of the Council’s children’s services. This is because the events happened too long ago.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will call Mrs C, complains about the actions of the Council’s children’s services. She says the Council should have done more to protect her from abuse and caused her distress when it posted her care records to her.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
  2. We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered Mrs C’s complaint and the Council’s response.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. Mrs C complains that the Council failed to protect her from abuse more than ten years ago, after she was taken into care.
  2. Mrs C requested her care records more than five years ago. She complains that the records were sent to her by post, despite being told a social worker would sit down with her and go through the records.
  3. I will not investigate this complaint because it is late, and I do not consider there to be a good reason to exercise discretion.
  4. I am not confident there is a realistic prospect of reaching a robust, fair, and meaningful decision. This is because of the amount of time which has passed since the events to be investigated, meaning we are less likely to be able to gather sufficient evidence to reach a sound judgement. Even if some evidence is available, it would not be possible to ensure it is reliable and provides a full picture.
  5. I am also not satisfied that Mrs C could not have complained sooner. Mrs C received her care file more than five years ago. I see no reason why she could not have complained then, or shortly after.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mrs C’s complaint because the events happened too long ago.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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