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Kent County Council (21 008 150)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 30 Mar 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr B complained that a Child and Family Assessment prepared by the Council contained inaccurate information about him because of which his former partner stopped his unsupervised contact with his child causing him great distress. We found the Council was at fault in that the assessment was not as balanced and accurate as it should have been. The Council has taken appropriate action to remedy this.

The complaint

  1. Mr B complains that a Child and Family Assessment prepared by the Council contained inaccurate information about him because of which his former partner decided he was a danger to his child and stopped unsupervised contact causing him great distress. Mr B says that, although the Council accepted some of the information was inaccurate and made some amendments to the document, it still contains incorrect information about him. He wants the document to be further amended.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints of injustice caused by ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)
  2. If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered all the information provided by Mr B, made enquiries of the Council and considered its comments.
  2. Mr B and the Council had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision. I considered any comments received before making a final decision.

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What I found

Key facts

  1. Mr B and his partner are separated. Mr B’s son lives with his mother. Mr B was concerned about his behaviour and made a referral to the Council.
  2. The social worker completed a Child and Family assessment. Mr B complained about the information presented in the assessment saying it was one-sided and contained inaccurate information.
  3. The service manager responded to Mr B’s complaint at stage 1 of the Council’s complaints procedure. She said that, while Mr B may not agree with all the information presented within the assessment, this did not mean it was inaccurate. She explained that his comments would be added to his son’s case records so his views could be read alongside the assessment.
  4. Mr B was unhappy with this response and asked for his complaint to be escalated to stage 2 of the Council’s complaints procedure.
  5. The Assistant Director of the service responded at stage 2. She confirmed that the Council had amended three parts of the assessment to include further information provided by Mr B “to ensure that there is greater balance and accuracy”. She apologised that the assessment had needed to be amended and said the Council had listened to Mr B’s concerns and acted to rectify the parts of the assessment that it considered necessary.
  6. Mr B considered the assessment was still inaccurate and complained to the Ombudsman.
  7. In response to my enquiries, the Council has agreed to alter one section of the assessment to ensure it represents both parents’ views. It is of the view that no further amendments are necessary and has explained the reasons for this.

Analysis

  1. I find the Council was at fault in that the original assessment was not as balanced and accurate as it could have been.
  2. However, I am satisfied the Council has taken appropriate action in relation to Mr B’s concerns about the content of the assessment. It has ensured that his comments are documented on the file and made some amendments to the assessment. It has also apologised that the assessment needed to be amended.
  3. These are appropriate steps to take, and I do not consider the Ombudsman could achieve anything further for Mr B. While he may consider further amendments are required, it is not the Ombudsman’s role to tell the Council what the contents of the assessment should be. This is a matter for officers’ professional judgement.

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Agreed action

  1. The Council has agreed that, within one month, it will alter one further section of the assessment.

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Final decision

  1. I find the Council was at fault in that the child and family assessment was not as balanced and accurate as it should have been.
  1. I have completed my investigation on the basis that I am satisfied with the Council’s actions.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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