Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 03 Sep 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms X’s complaint that Wandsworth Council has refused to investigate her complaint about a company which provides a children’s youth service on its behalf and which had contact with her son. The Council is not at fault and correctly advised Ms X that she should complain to Lambeth Council which is responsible for safeguarding her son.
- Ms X complains the Council refused to accept a complaint about Company B which it commissions to provide services to families. Ms X complains that in 2018 Company B took her son out on trips without her knowledge or consent and at a time when he should have attended school. She says this raises safeguarding issues.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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)
- We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe:
- it is unlikely we would find fault, or
- the fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered Ms X’s information and comments and discussed the complaint with her by telephone. I have considered Ms X’s correspondence with the Council. I have read her communications with this office following my draft decision statement.
What I found
- Ms X complains about the involvement of Company B with her son which she became aware of in March or April 2018. Company B provided a service to a young person for Wandsworth Council. Ms X’s son was included on some activities as a friend. Company B’s youth worker told Ms X that the boys had mislead him about the age of her son and he did not know he was attending school.
- Lambeth Council provides the children’s service to the family and was involved throughout the period covered by this complaint. Ms X discussed Company B with Lambeth Council in 2018 and it had some contact with the company.
- On 15 May Wandsworth Council acknowledged Ms X’s concerns but confirmed later that it had not logged a complaint. On 21 June it wrote to Ms X saying it would not investigate her complaint. It says it did not commission a service for Ms X’s son and advises her to complain to Lambeth Council.
- I will not investigate this complaint for the following reasons:
- The Ombudsman investigates fault causing injustice. There is no fault in the Council deciding not to investigate Ms X’s complaint. The Council says it did not commission a service for Ms X’s son and is not involved with the family. I have not seen evidence that it was involved in 2018.
- There is no injustice to Ms X by how the Council dealt with her complaint irrespective of whether it formerly recorded a complaint.
- The Council was correct to advise Ms X to complain to Lambeth Council which provides a service to her family and is responsible for safeguarding her son.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms X’s complaint that Wandsworth Council has refused to investigate her complaint about a company which provides a children’s youth service on its behalf and which had contact with her son. The Council is not at fault and correctly advised Ms X that she should complain to Lambeth Council which is responsible for safeguarding her son.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman