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Surrey County Council (21 018 022)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 06 Apr 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will uphold Ms X’s complaint, as the Council delayed considering a complaint at stage two of its corporate complaints’ procedure. The Council has agreed to complete its stage two without further delay and make a payment for the delay so far.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I will call Ms X, complained in August 2021 to the Council’s about its children services actions.

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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. Under our information sharing agreement, we will share the final decision with the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted).

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by Ms X and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.
  3. I considered Ms X’s comments on a draft version of this decision.

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My assessment

What happened

  1. Ms X complained to the Council in August 2021 about an officer’s conduct at child protection conferences involving children of her extended family. In October 2022 the Council replied at stage one of its corporate complaints’ procedure. Ms X in mid November 2021 requested the Council escalate her complaint to stage two of its procedure.
  2. The Council has accepted this has not happened.
  3. An investigation is likely to conclude the Council’s delay here is failure to comply with its complaints’ procedure and is fault which has caused Ms X some time and trouble.

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Agreed action

  1. The Council has agreed within one month of the date of my final decision to:
    • Complete its mediation stage of its stage two investigation and write to Ms X to inform her of the outcome, ensuring it provides her appropriate information about her rights under the process.
    • Make a payment to her for £100 to reflect the delays so far.

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Final decision

  1. I uphold this complaint with a finding of fault causing an injustice.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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