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Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council (19 020 096)

Category : Other Categories > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 30 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complains about the quality of an investigation carried out by the Council into a suspected breach of Health and Safety legislation. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint as he does not consider Mr X to have suffered any injustice because of the Council’s actions.

The complaint

  1. Mr X suffered an injury at a launderette. He complains the Council’s investigation into possible breaches of health and safety legislation by the company was poor.
  2. He also says the Council accepted a false statement under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). And it failed to address what was found from the daily checks in the three days between the incident and it being reported. He says this is a time during which the machine was still faulty exposing other members of the public to risk.

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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 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
  • the fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained
  • the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement
  • it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council
  • it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome
  • we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A (6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information provided by Mr X. He commented on the draft version of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr X complains about the quality of the Council’s investigation into a breach of health and safety legislation.
  2. The Council’s response to Mr X’s complaint says during the investigation, it took what it considers to be appropriate action. It served the company with an Improvement Notice, which the company complied with.
  3. I understand that Mr X believes the Council’s investigation into health and safety practices at the launderette was not sufficiently robust. He says the public was/is at risk. However, I do not consider that Mr X has suffered any significant personal injustice because of this alleged failure.
  4. The Ombudsman may not criticise the Council unless he is satisfied the complainant has suffered injustice through administrative fault by the Council. Unless fault and injustice are present, he may not pursue the matter. Where there is no injustice or where the injustice is not significant, the Ombudsman will normally exercise his discretion not to pursue the matter. He is publicly funded and must ensure appropriate use of his resources

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Final decision

  1. I will not investigate this complaint. The quality of the Council’s investigation following his report of his accident has not caused Mr X any significant personal injustice.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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