Upheld in whole or in part
Non-public interest report issued: complaint upheld
Pembrokeshire County Council
Mrs A complained about the actions of Pembrokeshire County Council (“the Council”) following the sexual assault of her daughter, B. Mrs A complained that the Council failed to safeguard B in line with its statutory duty, failed to consider whether to review/monitor the School’s response to safeguard B and failed to consider whether to review/monitor the School’s handling of Mrs A’s complaint of February 2019. Mrs A also complained that the Council failed to follow its complaints process in an appropriate and timely manner.
The investigation found that the Council failed to communicate and share information appropriately with Mrs A and B in relation to its statutory duties and failed to provide Mrs A with a copy of the outcome of enquiries in a timely manner. It also found that the Council failed to consider whether to review/monitor the School’s handling of Mrs A’s complaint of February 2019 and was unable to provide copies of review documentation, which amounted to maladministration. The failings identified caused Mrs A and B significant stress, distress and inconvenience, which was an injustice to them. The investigation found that there were missed opportunities to signpost Mrs A to the Complaints Officer and she was never formally advised, or provided any written documentation about, how to make a complaint. This failing caused Mrs A an injustice as she was unable to escalate her complaint in a timely manner. Her complaints were not promptly investigated, and this caused significant stress and inconvenience to Mrs A as she continued to pursue her complaints over subsequent months/years. The Ombudsman upheld these parts of the complaint. The investigation found, however, that there was nothing more that Social Services could have done to assist the School in safeguarding B once its duty had ended and the responsibility had been passed to the School to monitor the situation. Therefore, the Ombudsman did not uphold this aspect of Mrs A’s complaint.
The Council agreed to, within 1 month, apologise to Mrs A and B and offer them £500 each in recognition of the distress caused to them as a result of the failings identified. It also agreed to, within 1 month, offer Mrs A £250 for failing to handle her complaint appropriately and remind all relevant Social Services staff to provide customers with information about the complaints process if they receive an expression of dissatisfaction about a service. The Council further agreed to, within 3 months, share the report with the Director of Children and Schools, the Safeguarding Officer and the Complaints Officer for self-reflection and to guide future practice. It also agreed to review its factsheet on Section 47 Child Protection Enquiries to ensure that it contains full information about processes followed by Social Services when in receipt of a referral indicating that a child may be at risk.