Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 04 Dec 2020
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Miss X’s complaint about the Council’s handling of an incident in 2016, when she was threatened by a foster child in her care. This complaint lies outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction because it is late. There are no good grounds to exercise discretion to consider this very late complaint now.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Miss X, complains about the Council’s handling of, and response to, an incident in late 2016, when a child in her care threatened to stab her.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
- 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)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information Miss X provided. I sent Miss X a draft of my decision and invited her comments on it.
What I found
- Miss X was a foster carer for the Council. She complains about the Council’s response to an incident, in late 2016, where a foster child threatened to stab her.
- Miss X says the Council accused her of failing to provide adequate care for the child and questioned her suitability as a foster carer. She is unhappy the Council has only provided an apology. She would like compensation for the distress this has caused her.
- Miss X says she has suffered a financial loss as a result of the Council’s actions because they did not offer her a second placement between December 2016 and early 2019, when she stopped being a foster carer.
- Miss X complained to the Council in 2017. The Council’s final response, sent in December 2017, signposted Miss X to this office should she remain dissatisfied with its response.
- We will not investigate this complaint. The complaint lies outside our jurisdiction because it is late. The law says complaints should be made to us within 12 months of the person affected first becoming aware of the matter. Miss X was clearly aware of these events at the time and she was properly signposted to the Ombudsman back in 2017. It is reasonable to expect Miss X to have complained to us about this matter much sooner. There are no good grounds to consider this late complaint now, several years on from the events complained about.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman