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.

Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council (19 013 784)

Category : Children's care services > Looked after children

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 15 Jan 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Council has agreed to put Miss J’s complaint, which is about its actions before and after she left its care, through the statutory complaints process for complaints about children’s services. So the Ombudsman should not consider the matter further at this stage.

The complaint

  1. Miss J complains that the Council
    • Failed to protect her from harm while she was in its care 2012-14
    • Failed to provide her with a pathway plan for leaving care, which she did in 2015
    • Failed to protect her from harm after she removed herself from its care at the age of 16.

Back to top

The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word 'fault' to refer to these. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we are satisfied with the actions a council has taken or proposes to take. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(7), as amended)

Back to top

How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered the information Miss J provided with her complaint.

Back to top

What I found

  1. When Miss J made her complaint to the Council, the Council decided not to investigate it, because she was making the complaint outside the normal 12 month time limit for submitting a complaint.
  2. The law sets out a procedure for considering complaints about children’s services. This says the presumption should be in favour of accepting out-of-time complaints. In particular, the time limit should be extended if
    • It is still possible to consider the complaint effectively and efficiently
    • It is likely the young person was vulnerable or unable to bring the complaint sooner
    • There are benefits to the young person from proceeding.
  3. All three reasons appear to apply here. So there are grounds for the Council to accept the complaint into the procedure set out in law for complaints about children’s services.
  4. The procedure has three stages. The complexity of this complaint means that the Council should now consider Miss J’s complaint at stage 2. At stage 2, the Council appoints an investigating officer, and an independent person who oversees the investigation. If a complainant is unhappy with the outcome of the stage 2 investigation, they can ask for a stage 3 review.
  5. It is usually in everybody’s best interests for a complaint to complete this procedure before we consider a complaint. The Council can continue to try to resolve it while an investigation is under way.
  6. The Council has agreed to take Miss J’s complaint through the procedure, starting at stage 2. So there is nothing more the Ombudsman can achieve at this stage. Miss J can contact us again if she remains unhappy after stage 3 of the procedure.

Back to top

Agreed action

  1. The Council has agreed to take Miss J’s complaint through the statutory procedure for complaints about children’s services, starting at stage 2.

Back to top

Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint, because the Council has agreed to take satisfactory action towards resolving it.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

Back to top

Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

Print this page