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Liverpool City Council (21 016 655)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 16 Jun 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Council’s refusal to consider Ms X’s complaint about how it protected her when she was a child is fault. The Council has agreed to apologise, pay Ms X £200, investigate her complaint, and take action to improve its services.

The complaint

  1. Ms X complained the Council refused to consider her complaint about its failure to protect her from harm when she was a child.
  2. Ms X says this has prevented her receiving an investigation into what happened and caused her avoidable distress.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word fault to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. If there has been fault which has caused an injustice, we may suggest a remedy. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26(1) and 26A(1), as amended)
  2. If we are satisfied with an organisation’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 considered the information Ms X and the Council provided.
  2. I referred to the Ombudsman’s Guidance on Remedies, a copy of which can be found on our website.
  3. Ms X and the organisation 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

  1. Ms X complained to the Council about its failure to protect her from harm when she was a child.
  2. The Council said it “would not be possible to investigate historical matters” such as Ms X’s. It said it would hold limited information due to the passage of time. It said it therefore could not accept her complaint.
  3. The Ombudsman’s view is that Council’s should be able to investigate such complaints unless there is a good reason not to. This is because councils must keep records about children for a long time.
  4. Therefore, the Council should have investigated Ms X’s complaint. Failure to do so was fault.
  5. This caused Ms X avoidable distress and time and trouble in bringing her complaint to the Ombudsman.

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Agreed action

  1. To remedy the injustice to Ms X from the fault I have identified the Council has agreed to:
    • Apologise to Ms X
    • Pay Ms X £200 in recognition of her avoidable distress and time and trouble
    • Investigate Ms X’s complaint.
  2. The Council should take this action within four weeks of my final decision.
  3. The Council should also take the following action to improve its services:
    • Remind relevant staff that complaints from adults about the Council’s actions when they were children should be investigated unless there are good reasons not to in a specific case.
  4. The Council should tell the Ombudsman about the action it has taken within eight weeks of my final decision.

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Final decision

  1. I have completed my investigation. The Council is at fault. The action I have recommended is a suitable remedy for the injustice caused.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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