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Council rapped by watchdog over child protection failure
A GRANDFATHER has secured £1,000 in compensation after Worcestershire County Council failed to follow up concerns three young children could be at risk.
A national watchdog has issued a damning report into the county’s complaints procedures after failings in chasing up a safeguarding children’s referral.
In August 2011 the pensioner, who is not being identified, was attacked by one of his grandchildren’s fathers.
All three youngsters witnessed it, as well as other members of the family, leading to police being called.
The grandfather then contacted the council, and social workers agreed for a healthcare visitor to see the family immediately to check the children’s safety.
But it took seven weeks for anyone to make contact, by which time it was late September and the grandfather had already complained.
His complaint then took a year to come before an investigating panel, in September last year.
The grandfather then took the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman, which has published a damning report on the incident.
The council originally awarded him £250 by way of an apology, but ombudsman Dr Jane Martin has upped it by another £750.
Labelling it “maladministration causing injustice”, she said the authority had failed to respond to a safeguarding alert quickly enough, and the complaint could have been dealt with several months earlier.
Under statutory Government guidance, in cases where a child is deemed at risk of harm councils should respond within one working day.
The report said the grandfather suffered “serious injustice” and “unnecessary anxiety” by having to wait seven weeks without the family being assessed.
The county council has issued a statement apologising for the delays.
A spokesman said: “We accept the findings from the ombudsman's investigation and acknowledge the delay in dealing with both the initial referral and subsequent complaint is unacceptable.
“The county council will now review its complaints procedure in line with the statutory guidance from them.”
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