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Nottinghamshire County Council (21 012 695)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

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 complaint

  1. 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.

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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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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Final decision

  1. 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.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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