The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has ordered a council to apologise to a grandmother and  pay a total of £400 for its poor handling of a child protection case.

The complaints body, which investigates council misconduct, found Lancashire County Council guilty of maladministration and service failure, which included errors in paperwork, assumptions made by staff that were reported as fact and failures to organise meetings.

The grandmother said that the process had left her feeling frustrated and demoralised.

Four areas were identified in the complaint, each made up of several incidents:

  1. Incorrect names and details added to records – which still do not appear to have been corrected;
  2. Social workers failing to make several child protection visits;
  3. Multiple failures to separate assumptions from fact;
  4. Multiple failures to send minutes of child protection meetings in time, causing the grandmother distress.

The council was ordered to pay £100 for the inconvenience caused and a further £300 for the distress the grandmother experienced because of the council’s failings.

The latest decisions published by the Ombudsman highlight an ongoing trend in complaints by parents around adoptions and foster placements, despite the Ombudsman not being able to rule on such cases.

Complaints centred around false allegations by councils, unprofessional social work reports, data breaches, failures to follow the law and procedure, and inappropriate placements for children.

There had been an initial dip in the number of complaints after Researching Reform wrote a post explaining the Ombudsman’s inability to investigate care orders, but the lull was short-lived and could suggest that parents are turning to the complaints body out of desperation.

This week’s complaints and the decisions made by the Ombudsman can be read here.

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