Privacy settings

LGO logogram

Review your privacy settings

Required cookies

These cookies enable the website to function properly. You can only disable these by changing your browser preferences, but this will affect how the website performs.

View required cookies

Analytical cookies

Google Analytics cookies help us improve the performance of the website by understanding how visitors use the site.
We recommend you set these 'ON'.

View analytical cookies

In using Google Analytics, we do not collect or store personal information that could identify you (for example your name or address). We do not allow Google to use or share our analytics data. Google has developed a tool to help you opt out of Google Analytics cookies.

Southampton City Council (22 000 738)

Category : Children's care services > Fostering

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 19 Jun 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about events that occurred over 20 years ago. This is because it is a late complaint.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I refer to as Ms X, complains about events from more than 20 years ago when her children were taken into care. Ms X alleges there has been a cover-up by the Council and the Council withheld information.

Back to top

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)

Back to top

How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by Ms X and the Council. This includes the complaint correspondence from 1998. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code and comments Ms X made in reply to a draft of this decision.

Back to top

My assessment

  1. Ms X complains about events that occurred in the 1990s involving her children. There was, at the time, a court case, a serious case review and a police investigation. Ms X says the Council withheld evidence for 20 years and there has been a cover-up.
  2. The Council has declined to investigate Ms X’s recent complaint because it relates to historic matters. It says there are few records from that time and many of the files are no longer available. The Council says Ms X could have dealt with any concerns she had at the time. The Council says it has no record of Ms X recently providing new information as she alleges.
  3. In response to a draft of this decision Ms X said she is raising new issues that she has only recently become aware of. I put these points to the Council; an officer re-checked the records and said that all the points Ms X has made relate to the previous historic complaint and there is no new information.
  4. I will not start an investigation because this is a late complaint. Ms X has been aware of the issues since the late 1990s and had several opportunities to raise her concerns at the time – with the courts, police and the Council. I appreciate these are important issues for Ms X but, given the time that has passed, and the lack of files and officers who were involved, it would not be possible to carry out an effective investigation. Even if some files remain it is unlikely they would be sufficient for a full investigation. In addition, the rules and standards that apply now are different from in the 1990s so it would be hard to reach a view about whether there had been fault.

Back to top

Final decision

  1. We will not start an investigation because this is a late complaint.

Back to top

Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

Print this page