The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) has released its latest decisions about child welfare complaints.
This week the release features a whopping 64 complaints which include several allegations about the conduct of social workers during child protection investigations, non-recent abuse in care and councils accused of getting police officers to listen in on families’ phone calls.
The watchdog issues this notice with every set of complaints it publishes:
“Please note: our decisions are published six weeks after they are issued to councils, care providers and the person who has made the complaint. The cases below reflect the caselaw and guidance available at the time of issue and the individual circumstances of each case.”
Below are summaries and links to complaints about child protection, children’s social care and councils:
Man with a significant conviction challenges council’s decision to inform his partner’s ex-partner about the conviction, council discretion where child welfare concerns exist
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s decision to inform Mr X’s partner’s ex-partner about an historic conviction. There is not enough evidence of fault to warrant investigation.
Allegations against the council for blocking the court-ordered return of children to a mother
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s action concerning Mrs X’s grandchildren. The contact and residence of children has been and can only be decided by a court. Matters from 2019 or earlier are late and there is no good reason to exercise discretion to investigate them now.
Allegations of non-recent abuse in care, abuse by an after-care support worker causing long term mental health problems
Summary: Mr X complained the Council failed to properly consider his complaints about historic abuse while in care. We found there was fault. The Council agreed to consider the complaint Mr X raised in 2020 through the statutory children’s complaints process and make a payment to Mr X of £200 to recognise his time and trouble in bringing the complaint.
Allegations that children’s social care asked the police to listen to a women’s telephone calls and used the police to prevent her from accessing support, and that the council sent emails about her to other parents
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s Children’s Social Care involvement with Miss X. That is because her substantive complaint relates to actions of the Police which are outside of our jurisdiction. Other parts of her complaint are either premature, late or have been considered through the children’s statutory complaints procedure, therefore further investigation would not lead to a different outcome.
Advocate providing a free service in children services complaints accuses the council of implementing a policy not to record conversations
Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council not recording conversations as he has not been caused any personal injustice.
Mother alleged fault in the child protection actions of social workers which caused her children distress as they were not taken seriously and she was blamed instead
Summary: We will not investigate Miss X complaint about the child protection actions of social workers between 2013 and 2016. The complaint is late and there is no good reason to exercise discretion to investigate it now.
Council accused of including inaccurate information in Section 7 and Section 47 reports it produced in 2018 that were subsequently presented to the courts during care proceedings for her grandchildren
Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint that the Council included inaccurate information in reports it produced for the courts. This is because we cannot investigate matters that have been subject to court proceedings. Furthermore, the complaint is made late.
Complaint by a father that the council failed to look into his allegations that the mother was blocking contact and had domestically abused him, children did not want contact with the father
Summary: Mr X complains the Council, the police and his child’s school failed to properly deal with his safeguarding concerns about his child’s welfare. Mr X says the matter has caused him significant distress, financial loss and his child continues to be at risk of significant harm. There is no evidence of fault in the way the Council dealt with Mr X’s safeguarding concerns.
Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council
Social services involvement with a family
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s children’s services involvement with the complainant and her family in 2014. This is because the events happened too long ago and I see no reason why the complaint could not have been raised sooner.
Social services involvement with a family
Summary: Mr X complained about the Council’s involvement with him and his three children, all of whom are subject to a child protection plan. He said the Council has treated him unfairly and this has caused him stress and upset. There was fault in the Council’s actions when it failed to properly assess Mr D’s friend Ms W prior to approving her as a carer for Mr D’s children. This caused stress and inconvenience to Mr X. The Council has carried out a review of its guidance to ensure this does not happen again in future. This is a suitable remedy to address any injustice Mr X experienced.
Hospital wrongly diagnoses daughter with a personality disorder and autism, council fails to put proper support in place
Summary: We found fault by the Council, CCG and Private Hospital with regards to how they planned aftercare for a young person following her discharge from hospital after a period of detention under the Mental Health Act 1983. These organisations have agreed to apologise and the Private Hospital will also pay the complainant a financial remedy. We found no fault by the Private Hospital in terms of the consideration it gave to the young person’s diagnosis during her admission.
Allegations of false statements made by council staff
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s response to a complaint made against Children’s Services. This is because there is no evidence of fault on the Council’s part causing unremedied injustice to the complainant.
Grandmother’s complaint about social workers producing incorrect information, a lack of support, failure to keep appropriate records and a failure to complete an adequate viability assessment
Summary: Mr X complained about the Council’s actions before during and after he began caring for his grandchildren. He says the Council’s remedy for these fault is inadequate. The Council is at fault and has caused injustice. The Council has agreed financial remedies and a fresh review of the Council’s decisions in the period before the children moved to stay with Mr X.
Nottinghamshire County Council
Conduct of council’s children’s services with the complainants family after a safeguarding referral was received
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about how the Council’s children’s services dealt with the complainants family after a safeguarding referral was received. This is because the events happened too long ago, and I see no reason why the complaint could not have been brought to the attention of the Ombudsman sooner.
Allegation that council failed to take action to keep the mother’s daughter safe
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the actions of the Council’s children’s services. This is because it would be reasonable for Mrs X to proceed with a stage 3 review of her complaint.
Poor social work practice, s.7 report
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the actions of social workers. These matters are not separable from matters heard in court or could have been brought before the court.
Father complained the council was bullying and negligent to him and his son during child protection proceedings.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s actions in relation to Mr X and his son during child protection proceedings. This is because it is a late complaint and there are no good reasons for us to investigate it now.
Conduct of social workers during child in need and child protection investigations
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the actions of social workers. The complaint is late and there are no grounds to consider it now.
Father’s allegations about the council’s treatment of him in supervising his daughter in the care of his grandchild
Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council’s treatment of him in supervising his daughter in the care of his grandchild. This would be unlikely to find further fault or achieve a greater remedy or different outcome.
Poor social work practice, failure to advise the family correctly, intimidation by social workers, inaccurate child protection reports
Summary: Mrs X complained about the Council’s actions as part of its child protection enquiries. Mrs X complained a social worker told her husband to leave the house without explaining this course of action was voluntary. She also complained the social worker included inaccurate information in their assessment and acted in an intimidating way towards her. Mrs X says the Council’s actions caused avoidable distress to her and her husband. We found some fault by the Council and the Council has agreed to apologise to Mrs X.
Allegations about an inaccurate assessment report
Summary: We will not investigate Miss X’s complaint about a children services inaccurate assessment report. We cannot achieve the outcome she seeks, and the Information Commissioner’s Office is better placed.
Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council
Father’s complaint about social services’ assistance for his children, lack of support, adequacy of a child in need plan for his children and problems with respite care
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about delays in the statutory children’s complaint process. It is unlikely we could achieve more than the Council has offered.
Father’s complaint about actions of the council’s children’s services since the instigation of his divorce proceedings and failure to secure contact with his children
Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint about the way the Council’s children services assisted the complainant with securing contact with his children. This is because these matters are currently considered by court. We cannot investigate other matters raised by the complainant as they are too closely linked to the court proceedings.
Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council
Father complained that the council was at fault in the production of a court report for divorce proceedings
Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint about a report the Council completed for the Court. This is because, by law, the content and production of such reports falls outside our jurisdiction.
What is the point of an ombudsman whose most frequent response to complaints is NOT TO INVESTIGATE them!? Also, the LGSCO asks complainants to first go through the councils complaint procedures before approaching them. Councils take YEARS to address complaints knowing that this will simply time complainants out.
To anyone going through the complaints process – please DO NOT ACCEPT any of the insulting little few hundred quid payments offered for the devastation social workers have caused your families. This pocket money has no effect whatsoever on the LA’s ordered to pay it but accepting payments is legally a settlement and therefore prevents you taking SS to civil court for more appropriate damages. More civil cases against local authorities are desperately required in order to make public some of the injustices of local authorities and the secret family courts.
Marie Dunkley said:
When having to deal with the LGO they don’t really care all they give councils is a slap on the wrists but the LGO don’t take complaints seriously but don’t understand why families have complained in the first place and when the local authority are found against the local authority can and will make life even more difficult for the family
The LGO would rather not investigate cases , they will make it as hard as possible making out the complainant is the problem not the issue of the thing being complained about.
Let’s remember it’s the children & young people who suffer yet lessons are never learnt because once a complaint is in the LGO have decided that the case is closed even if mistakes are made people do not have a complaint procedures to follow
They can do what ever the LGO want and are not answerable to anyone
Ian Josephs said:
Never complain ,never explain !Complaints against authorities are usually a waste of time and money getting nowhere ,and Explanations too often give your enemies information they never had before which can then be used against you !
What can be done then?
The only thing that frightens wrong acting authorities is publicity but unfortunately they protect themselves with privacy laws if parents go to the press,TV,or the internet.We should therefore campaign for a change in the law to allow the right of free speech so that any parent wishing to publicise a perceived injustice should be free to do so.
At present mothers whose babies are taken away at birth have no right to protest in public Neither have children in care ;The law should be changed to allow them to do so. FREE SPEECH makes the distinction between democracy and dictatorship but alas in the UK that distinction is becoming somewhat blurred…………….
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