Cornwall Council (18 004 344)

Category : Children's care services > Friends and family carers

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 18 Oct 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman has discontinued our investigation into Miss X’s complaint about inaccuracies in a child in need assessment for Y. This is because the Council has agreed to consider Miss X’s complaint through the statutory complaints procedure.

The complaint

  1. Miss X complains that the Council will not consider her complaint about the Council’s assessment of her grandson carried out in 2015. Miss X considers the assessment is inaccurate and placed her grandson at risk of harm.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)
  2. If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have:
    • Considered the complaint and the information provided by Miss X;
    • Discussed the issues with Miss X;
    • Made enquiries of the Council and considered the information provided;
    • Invited Miss X and the Council to comment on the draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Government statutory guidance Getting the Best from Complaints 2006 provides that councils should investigate complaints from or behalf of children through a three stage complaints procedure. Councils can only decline to accept complaints in limited circumstances. The Ombudsman considers councils should follow the guidance and consider complaints through the statutory process unless there are good reasons not to do so.

What happened

  1. Miss X is the guardian for her grandson, Y. In 2018 Miss X saw a child in need assessment carried out by the Council for her grandson in 2015. Miss X did not see the assessment in 2015 as it was carried out before she became Y’s guardian. Miss X complained to the Council about a number of inaccuracies in the assessment. She considered the inaccurate assessment placed had placed Y at risk of harm.
  2. The Council declined to consider Miss X’s complaint through the statutory complaints procedure as it considered that inaccuracies in the assessment were matters which came under the Data Protection Act.
  3. The Council has now agreed to consider Miss X’s complaint through the statutory complaints procedure.

My assessment

  1. I am not clear why the Council initially considered Miss X’s complaint about inaccuracies in the assessment came under the Data Protection Act. But I will not pursue this further as the Council has now agreed to consider Miss X’s complaint through the statutory complaints procedure. So I cannot achieve anything more for Miss X by investigating further why the Council would not consider the complaint through the statutory complaints procedure.
  2. Miss X can make another complaint to the Ombudsman if she disagrees with the outcome of her complaint after the Council has considered it through all three stages of the complaints procedure. The Council should ensure it completes the consideration of Miss X’s complaint within six months, if not sooner.

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Final decision

  1. I have discontinued my investigation into Miss X’s complaint about inaccuracies in a child in need assessment for Y. This is because the Council has agreed to consider her complaint through the statutory complaints procedure.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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