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Essex County Council (21 016 656)

Category : Children's care services > Disabled children

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 06 Apr 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the contents of a child and family assessment. This is because the events happened too long ago, and I see no reason why the complaint could not have been raised sooner.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will call Mrs X, complains about the contents of a child and family assessment completed by the Council’s children’s services in July 2020. She says the social worker recorded the opposite of what she said and therefore the assessment is inaccurate and should be retracted.

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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)
  3. We normally expect someone to refer the matter to the Information Commissioner if they have a complaint about data protection. However, we may decide to investigate if we think there are good reasons. (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 and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. I will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint that a social worker recorded inaccurate information about her in a child and family assessment. This is because the assessment was concluded in July 2020. I see no reason why Mrs X could not have complained to the Council and then the Ombudsman sooner and therefore her complaint is therefore made late.
  2. If Mrs B believes statements about her are inaccurate, she may pursue her right to rectification under data protection law. She can then raise her complaint with the Information Commissioner. There are no grounds for the Ombudsman to intervene.

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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 sooner.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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