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London Borough of Harrow (21 006 017)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 13 Sep 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

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

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will call Miss C, complains that the Council’s children’s services failed to safeguard her from abuse some thirty years ago. Miss C says this has negatively impacted her physical health.

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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 information provided by the complainant and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. I will not investigate Miss C’s complaint, that the Council failed to safeguard her from abuse when she was a child in 1990’s. This is because the events happened too long ago. I do not consider that we have grounds to exercise discretion in this case for the following reasons:
  1. I am not confident there is a realistic prospect of reaching a sound, fair, and meaningful decision. The time which has passed since the events makes it difficult to establish the material facts with reasonable confidence. It would be unlikely we would be able to gather sufficient evidence to reach a sound judgement. Even if some evidence is available, it would be impracticable to ensure it is reliable, and provides a full picture.
  2. I see no reason why Miss C could not have complained sooner.

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Final decision

  1. I will not investigate Miss 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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