Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 15 Mar 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Mr X complained about the Council’s unfair investigation of an incident in which he was asked to leave Council offices. The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault on the Council’s part which would warrant an investigation.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains about the actions of Council staff and a subsequent investigation of an incident in Council offices where he was asked to leave the premises. He says he was humiliated in front of the public and wants the Council to apologise and staff to be charged with lying to the Police.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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
- it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
- it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome, or
- we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants.
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered all the information which Mr X submitted with his complaint. I have also considered the Council’s response and Mr X has been given the opportunity to comment on the draft decision.
What I found
- Mr X was involved in an altercation with Post Office staff who have an outlet in a Council building. He says the argument was due to the attitude of the Postmaster and has witnesses to this. The Council staff were alerted by the disturbance and asked the Council security guard to remove Mr X from the premises. He says he refused to leave because he did not start the disagreement. Because he would not leave the staff called the police.
- Mr X says the Post Office staff lied about the altercation and when he showed footage on his phone to the Police they took no further action. He complained to the Council because he felt he was unfairly treated. The Council’s investigation upheld the actions of its staff. It told him his claims about the attitude of the Post Office staff and the reasons for the argument were matters which he would have to take up with the Post Office management. It confirmed that he was not banned from the premises following the Police decision not to take further action.
- I can find no evidence that the Council’s investigation was unfair. The buildings belong to the Council and it is responsible for security of its staff and the public. There clearly was an altercation and it was reasonable for the staff to ask Mr X to leave. They could not ask the Post Office staff to leave because they are employed there. The staff acted according to the circumstances they were faced with. When Mr X would not co-operate with the security staff it was logical to ask the police to attend.
- The Council’s investigation did not conclude that Mr X started the disturbance but rather that there was an altercation which its staff had to end. It has not taken further sanctions against him and he is free to take up his disagreement with the Post Office if he wishes to take it further.
- The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault on the Council’s part which would warrant an investigation.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman