Upheld in whole or in part
Non-public interest report issued: complaint upheld
Flintshire County Council
Ms B complained that, during a child protection investigation between July and August 2019 relating to her daughter, A, Flintshire County Council (“the Council”) failed to gather appropriate information and consider whether A required communication support before it interviewed her. She also said that it did not appropriately consider her views as A’s mother and advocate. Ms B also complained that the Council failed to take appropriate action in respect of subsequent referrals and disclosures and that it failed to comply with the recommendation of the Council’s independent stage 2 complaint investigation to interview A again.
The Ombudsman found that further enquiries should have been made before A was interviewed but that this had no impact on the interview or the Council’s decision making. In addition, the Council had already apologised for this and taken appropriate steps to improve practice going forward. He found that the Council was entitled to rely on the information it received about A’s communication needs, which suggested that she would be able to engage with the interview without additional support. In the event, A was willing and able to discuss her concerns in interview. He further found that Ms B was kept informed throughout the investigation and given appropriate opportunities to offer any information she wished, for consideration. In relation to the Council’s complaint handling, he found that it was appropriate for the Council to consider for itself whether to comply with the recommendation from the stage 2 complaint investigation and that it was reasonable for it to decide not to re-interview A at the time that decision was made. The Ombudsman did not uphold these complaints.
The Ombudsman found that subsequent referrals received were broadly similar to the issues already considered and did not require further investigation.
However, A made additional disclosures in January 2020 which should have prompted formal consideration by the Council and, when it did not do so, were ultimately considered by the Police instead. He upheld this element of the complaint in relation to A’s disclosures. The Ombudsman also noted that there were shortcomings in the Council’s record keeping. The Council agreed to, within 1 month, apologise to Mrs B for overlooking the information it received in January 2020 and to remind all relevant staff members of the importance of good record keeping practices.