Northumberland County Council ‘failed’ vulnerable family

family life

Northumberland County Council did not do enough to protect a vulnerable family from their own son, the Local Government Ombudsman has declared.

The teenager had severe behavioural problems. On one occasion he put a knife to his mother’s throat. On another he threatened to stab his younger siblings. Eventually, the teen was forcibly removed from their home by the Police, an incident which upset the whole family.

As the problems mounted, the family repeatedly rang the council to ask for help protecting the younger children from their troubled older brother but nothing was done. The authority then rejected a complaint lodged by the family. But the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has now declared that they had a fair case after all.

By ignoring the family and not talking to the police, the County Council had failed to properly consider the seriousness of the situation or the risks posed to the younger children, as well as the likely effect on them of the toxic atmosphere at home and the distressing events they regularly witnessed.

Local Government Ombudsman Michael King said the Council had still not acknowledged the seriousness of the situation.

“Northumberland council has continually attempted to minimise the seriousness of the allegations made against the older son. The council was aware of the family’s turbulent situation, but there appears to have been little thought given to the impact this had on the younger siblings, and the potential harm this could have caused.”

He added:

“Throughout the complaint, the council has failed to acknowledge the voices of the children. I am disappointed it has yet to agree to my recommendations to put things right and would urge them to review my report and consider what actions it will now take.”

The Ombudsman’s recommendations had included £1,000 in compensation for the anxiety and distress caused to the family by the Council’s failure to investigate their situation and for the time and effort required to complain the Ombudsman.

But instead, the Council appointed an independent investigator look into the situation. They upheld only some of the family’s complaints and took in excess of a year to do so, comfortably exceeding the statutory maximum of 65 days.

You can read the full report here.

Image by pidoubleg via Flickr

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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