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Liverpool City Council (22 003 151)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 19 Jun 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Miss X’s complaint about children service’s actions. We are unlikely to achieve a significantly different outcome than she has already achieved.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Miss X, complains about a child assessment and decisions made following it.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We do not start or continue an investigation if we decide:
    • we could not add to any previous investigation by the organisation, or
    • further investigation would not lead to a different outcome, or
    • there is another body better placed to consider this complaint. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
  2. The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone could take the matter to court. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to go to court. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c), as amended)
  3. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse effect on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We do not start an investigation if we decide the tests set out in our Assessment Code are not met. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by Miss X and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. In March 2021, following a health referral, a Council social worker assessed Miss X’s family. They held a strategy meeting and decided to call a Child Protection Conference. Miss X complained. The team’s manager considered her complaint and decided the assessment was not balanced and contained errors. The manager cancelled the child protection conference and ordered a new assessment. The first assessment was overwritten and it no longer appears on the Council’s records.
  2. Miss X complained. She says her health was significantly affected by the first report and threat of a child protection conference. The Council replied to her complaint in all three stages of its children services statutory complaints procedure. That noted her complaint had been upheld at stage one. It offered £300 for complaint delays and a meeting to discuss the assessment.
  3. It is unlikely our investigation could achieve more. We normally would expect a complainant to apply for court for any significant personal injuries, such as health effects, as the courts are better placed to consider those complex issues.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Miss X’s complaint because we are unlikely to achieve a significantly different outcome.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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