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Hampshire County Council (22 003 326)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 21 Jun 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint that the Council has declined to implement a recommendation made by the Review Panel considering a complaint against children’s services. This is because the Council’s actions have not caused the complainant an injustice.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will refer to as Ms B, complains that the Council has declined to implement the recommendation of the Review Panel which considered her complaint about children’s services that an external multi-agency review be carried out.

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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 effect on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start an investigation if 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 the complainant.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. Ms B made a complaint to the Council about the care of her grandchildren. The complaint was considered under the statutory procedure for complaints about children’s services and was substantially upheld.
  2. One of the outcomes Ms B wanted from the complaints procedure was an external review of the three years her grandchildren had spent in the Council’s care, not just the period covered by the complaint. The Stage 3 Review Panel agreed, and recommended that the Council consider such a review in conjunction with the Local Safeguarding Children Partnership.
  3. In its final response to the complaint, the Council said it accepted the recommendation for an external review and would implement it. But it did not agree it was appropriate that the Local Safeguarding Children Partnership be involved. It is against this decision that Ms B’s complaint lies. She believes she will be marginalised in the review as proposed and the Council’s position demonstrates that its intent is to carry out a cover-up.
  4. The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms B’s complaint because there is no evidence the Council’s decision has caused her an injustice. The Council has set out why it believes the involvement of the Local Safeguarding Children Partnership is inappropriate. Ms B disagrees, and has set out what she believes the implications will be for the external review. But, until the review is carried out and has made findings, we cannot say, and will not speculate, whether she is right.
  5. That being the case, it is not possible to find she has been caused a demonstrable injustice and the Ombudsman’s intervention is not warranted. If Ms B is not satisfied with the outcome of the review, she may complain about it.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Ms B’s complaint because the Council’s actions have not caused her an injustice.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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