London Borough of Croydon (18 008 374)

Category : Children's care services > Looked after children

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 14 Dec 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Miss X complains the Council failed to respond properly to reports that she was being harmed and to act to protect her when she was known to social services as a child, which left her to suffer unnecessary harm. The Council will investigate the complaint, so the Ombudsman’s investigation is discontinued.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Miss X, complains the Council failed to respond properly to reports that she was being harmed and to act to protect her when she was known to social services as a child.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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)
  2. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I read Miss X’s complaint and made enquiries of the Council. I shared a draft of this decision with both parties and invited their comments, but received none.

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What I found

  1. Miss X found out in 2017 that social services had been involved with her in the 1980s. She complained to the Council, which declined to deal with her complaint as it said she had waited too long before approaching it. She then approached us.
  2. Although the matters alleged are historic, Miss X was not aware of social services’ involvement until recently. I therefore do not consider she could have complained any sooner.
  3. When I made enquiries of the Council, it told me it had misplaced Miss X’s original complaint made after her discovery in 2017. It said its complaints team had only seen her later, follow-up complaint in deciding not to consider it. It told me that, having found the original complaint, it was happy to deal with it. I take the view it is better placed to examine its records from the 1980s than I would be in the first instance.

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Final decision

  1. I have discontinued my investigation as the Council will consider Miss X’s complaint. Should she remain dissatisfied when the Council has done this, she is welcome to return to us, provided she does so without delay.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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