Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 10 Jan 2022
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about how the Council’s children’s services dealt with the complainants family after a safeguarding referral was received. This is because the events happened too long ago, and I see no reason why the complaint could not have been brought to the attention of the Ombudsman sooner.
- The complainant, who I will call Mrs X, complains about the actions of the Council’s children’s services after it received a safeguarding referral in late 2018.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
- 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)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered information provided by the complainant and the Council.
- I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.
- Mrs X complains about the Council’s involvement with her family during a five-month period between late 2018 and early 2019, after a safeguarding referral was received by the Council’s children’s services. The Council considered Mrs X’s complaint under the three stage children’s statutory complaints procedure and issued a final response in December 2020, and informed Mrs X she could complaint to the Ombudsman if dissatisfied.
- I will not investigate this complaint because the events happened too long ago. Complaints must be made to us within 12 months of a complainant being aware of something that the Council has done.
- In this case Mrs X was aware of the issues in March 2019. I acknowledge that the Council’s complaints procedure was not completed until December 2020. However, Mrs X should have contacted the Ombudsman immediately after the Council’s response but did not do so for almost a year. I see no reason why she could not have complained sooner.
- We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint because the events happened too long ago, and I see no reason why she could not have complained to the Ombudsman sooner.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman