SS not following procedures

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LMJ17
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2021 1:40 pm

SS not following procedures

Post by LMJ17 » Mon Dec 06, 2021 3:40 pm

Hi there,

Long story but I’ll give the cliff notes.

Children’s social care been involved since March at my request via my domestic abuse support worker because of my concerns about my children.

I’m staying with my mum and 2 of my 3 children are with me, because of their fathers abusive behaviour.

Initially they closed the case after a brief phone call. DA support worker got it reopened.

After 2 months from the initial referral they eventually did an assessment (father and my son, now 15).
They witnessed and documented emotional abuse and neglect towards my son, drug misuse and mental health concerns, domination, (of father) isolation, young carer concerns and many other things. They were also fully aware of the history and ongoing domestic abuse aimed at myself and my children.
This is all still going on now, it has not stopped or changed at all, in fact in some areas it has become much worse.

All of this and they did not call a CP meeting or strategy discussion.
Witnessing domestic abuse in itself is a case of a child being at risk of significant harm.

They did a CIN plan. This was not followed by father and SS did not follow up on it.

They only visited when I told them of my concerns about my son not eating properly, not going out at all, not washing, being emotionally abused etc. They only went round because of the nature of my concerns I reported to them.
This happened on 3 occasions. They did not go any other time of their own accord.

I’ve spoken to NSPCC, women’s aid, FRG, a solicitor, my local MP and the police.

Spoke to my GP and he arranged a CIN meeting, 3 weeks ago, which we’ve had before.

They did another CIN plan, placed all responsibility on my son and none on his father.
This has not been followed at all either as to date. This is not my sons fault, his father should be implementing it.
Another meeting is due next week.

I made a formal complaint on 4th October. I didn’t get any response until 21st Oct, this was a phone call and I had expressed that I only wanted an email response.
No progress from that call and none of my questions answered.

I have emailed the complaints officer 4/5 times to make sure my complaint is being escalated but had no reply whatsoever.

My MP got a response from head of children’s social care and it was very uninformative and answered no questions or concerns.

He also contacted the police but as yet no reply from them.

I did a SAR at same time as complaint and did not receive any response. I emailed 3 times before I eventually got a reply apologising that it hadn’t been handled correctly, no other info.
Should have received info by 3rd Nov but now it’s going to be 18th December.

I feel like I’m banging my head against the wall. I’m shouting so loud for help to everyone but no one is helping. I’m being ignored by children’s services, the council and the police. I don’t know where else to turn. I feel like I’ve exhausted all avenues and have got no where.

My son is being emotionally abused every day and the people who are supposed to help him are not doing anything.

They have not addressed the DA at all. To them it’s not even an issue. They know that’s why myself and 2 of my children have had to leave our family home.

They have not asked my son about it. They have not discussed it with him.

They do not seem to realise or care how much DA can have a detrimental effect on children.

They do not understand or care that my son doesn’t realise what abuse and neglect is. They don’t understand or care that because do this, the brainwashing, the manipulation etc, his own wishes and feelings are not actually his own. He’s not allowed to make decisions or say how he actually feels because he knows what will happen if he does.

They deny that witnessing domestic abuse is a cause for concern for significant harm and they tried to say that the emotional abuse and neglect etc were historical, this is an outright lie as there are no historical concerns and they did not say that on the assessment, I have it in black and white and they sent it to me!

Why are SS not following procedures in any way and getting away with it? They should have called a CP meeting back in March and they still didn’t even do it after the assessment!
They are not putting my sons health and safety above all else.

So basically to sum up what I want and need help with;
I want a CP meeting.
I want my son with me.
I want my complaint escalated to the highest possible level.
I want the social workers involved to be investigated for their blatant lack of following procedures and even law.

If anyone can please, please, please help me with any of this I would be eternally grateful, you have no idea how much. I’m at my wits end. This has been going on for so long. My child is suffering and I don’t know what else I can do. I’m so desperate.

Sorry for the long post and thank you for your time and any help anyone can give.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: SS not following procedures

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Tue Dec 07, 2021 2:26 pm

Dear LMJ17,

Welcome to the parents’ forum and thank you for your post. I am sorry to hear about the difficulties that you and your children are experiencing. I can see that you are very worried about your eldest son and despite making many concerted efforts to get children’s services involved you feel that your son remains at risk of harm in the care of his father.

Formal complaint escalation

I can see that you have made a formal complaint but the local authority did not respond within the expected timescale (10 working days) and the response you got was inadequate. The next stage would be Stage 2; please see the link for more information about this stage. You say that you have not had any response from the complaints officer despite emailing 4 or 5 times; it may be helpful to get the contact details of their team manager to bring this to their attention. If you are not satisfied after Stage 2 has been completed then we have information on our website about the Stage 3 process, and then taking it further to the local government ombudsman.

Judicial review
We also have information about ways in which you can complain beyond children’s services here. One option includes applying to the courts for judicial review. Judicial review is a process in which a judge in the High Court looks at whether children’s services’ actions and decisions are legal and made properly. Please read our advice sheet for more detailed information about this. The process is complex and I would recommend that you seek legal advice before pursuing this route.

You say that you have spoken with your MP who has had a response from the director of children’s services however you were dissatisfied with this response as it did not answer the questions or concerns raised. I would suggest that you discuss this further with your MP and ask them to request a fuller response from children’s services.

CIN plan escalation
You say that a CIN plan has been put in place and that a meeting was held three weeks ago. There is another meeting due to take place next week. You are worried that previously your son’s father did not comply with the CIN plan (which was then closed) and you say that this most recent plan places responsibility on your son rather than his father. You would like to know how to escalate the CIN plan to a child protection plan, and you would like your son back in your care.

In order for a child protection conference to be held (which may result in the implementation of a child protection plan) the local authority has to have concerns that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm. The phrase ‘significant harm’ was introduced by the Children Act 1989. The Act does not define ‘significant’. The question of whether or not harm is ‘significant’ relates to its impact on a child’s health or development. That child’s health and development should be compared to what would be expected for other children. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect are all categories of significant harm. I would suggest that you read a copy of your local authority’s threshold document (which you should be able to access on your local authority’s website) as it will outline the criteria that should be used to assess need and provide services (including in relation to Section 47 – suspicion that a child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm). If you haven’t already, you may find it helpful to read through these pages on our website about the child protection process.

Living arrangements for your son
You say that you would like your son to live with you rather than his father. The usual process for this would be to make a private law application to court and request that your son reside with you. This would usually be arranged through a child arrangements order and the court would decide who the child should live with. However your son is already 15 and although you don’t say when he will be 16 it is very unusual for a court to make a child arrangements order for a child aged 16 and over. However it may be worth seeking some legal advice about this if this is a route you wish to consider.

It appears from your post that your son is saying that he wants to live with his father for the time being. You feel that he has been brainwashed and manipulated by his father into saying this, however the difficulty you face is that it is difficult to prove this (particularly given his age). How much contact do you have with your son? It may be worth focussing on increasing the contact you have with him and strengthening your relationship with him so that he knows that he has a safe place with you if he wants it in future.

Other support

Has your son (or your other children) received any support such as therapy for the domestic abuse that they witnessed? This should be addressed in the CIN plan; at the next meeting I would suggest that you ask the social worker if there are any local services that may support your son. You may also find this website helpful in finding services, or your son’s school may also be able to put in place some therapy. It sounds like you are getting support from a domestic abuse support worker; if you feel that you need any further support then take a look at our useful links page.

You also mention that your son was described as a young carer by children’s services in their initial assessment. It may be worth asking the social worker if there are any local services that can support him regarding this, and he may be able to access an advocate. The Children’s Society and Family Action may be able to provide further information about services available.

I hope that this is helpful. Please don’t hesitate to post back if you would like any further support, or you can call our helpline to speak with an adviser (Monday to Friday, 9:30am – 3pm).

Best wishes,
Suzie

Smilingsnakes
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Joined: Sat Oct 31, 2020 2:51 pm

Re: SS not following procedures

Post by Smilingsnakes » Sat Dec 11, 2021 5:57 pm

This sounds awful and similar in some respects to my issues with Social Care. It took me a year to get an apology and offer of compensation from Social Care. They routinely ignored my emails. Deliberately sabotaged my court process and still have not addressed the fact that the investigation into my complaint identified serious concerns my son has not been safeguarded as a result if them losing disclosures, producing a biased and unobjective child and family assessment and generally treating me like rubbish.
I also involved my MP and they ignored him too. I believe because they know how seriously they have failed and are trying to delay legal action by dragging out the complaints process which is clearly not fit for purpose. Since my lv 2 investigation they keep faffing (now approx 3 months and not agreeing a date for stage 3 investigation.) This prevents me going to the Ombudsmen as you have to complete internal investigation process first. I assume this is the same everywhere not just where I live???

My advice keep very careful records and ask for everything in writing. My experience is Social Care routinely lie and deny giving direct instructions (e.g to withhold contact) then saying you chose to do it and using it against you!

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: SS not following procedures

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Dec 13, 2021 12:10 pm

Dear Smilingsnakes,

Thank you for your post and welcome to the parents' board.

I am sorry to hear about the difficulties you have experienced with children's services. You say you have escalated your complaint to Stage 2, and that it has been 3 months without a date for a Stage 3 panel review being set.

As you may know, a Stage 2 investigation should take a maximum of 65 days. Children’s services must send to the person making the complaint (the ‘complainant’):
- A complete copy of the investigation report
- Any report from the independent person
- The adjudication, and
- Information about how to ask for a panel review (see regulation 17(8) of the Children Act 1989 Representations Procedure Regulations 2006).

You then have 20 days to request a panel review (stage 3). Once you have requested this, the panel must meet within 30 days. Please see our stages of complaints section here for more information.

If children's services have not complied with these timescales, I would advise that you contact the local government ombudsman about this. See here for information on this.

Best wishes,

Suzie.

LMJ17
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2021 1:40 pm

Re: SS not following procedures

Post by LMJ17 » Sat Apr 02, 2022 11:37 am

Hi all,

Firstly, I’m so sorry Suzie, I really thought I had replied! But a big thank you for your reply and help.

Well, things are still going on, nothing resolved and only getting worse.

I went to the ombudsman and they upheld the complaint. SS were made to have a meeting with me, with an ‘independent’ person. This only happened 2 weeks ago. The guy is trying to get me to sign something that has basically narrowed down the issues in my complaint. I don’t feel comfortable signing this as it does omit some of my questions and concerns and I still want answers for everything.
Is this normal practice? Can they insist on this?
I feel they are just trying to get out of some of the more awkward concerns that would make them have to admit guilt and failure to act in accordance with procedures and law.
They are still denying there was and still is cause for concern of significant harm that meets the threshold for a CP meeting.

But, the main issues now, they closed the case in January after threatening my ex with escalating if he didn’t follow the CIN plan. He didn’t follow either and they didn’t escalate but closed it. I also wasn’t consulted beforehand about the case being closed.

This past couple of weeks have been an absolute nightmare. Without giving too much detail, ex refused to take my son to A&E on advice of 999 caller, they said ambulance would take too long to get there and it was urgent. Police had to escort them there under threat of being charged with neglect. Luckily my son was ok, well he was very ill but not with what they thought it could be.

During this whole event, I was on phone with him and he was very abusive towards me, in front of my very ill son. I did statement to police.

The following week he was arrested and charged with a few things (not to do with the previous events) and released on bail.

So 3 separate events and they all did referrals to SS. They have not reopened the case, they have not even assigned anyone or looked int it. They keep saying they can’t do anything about anything! Putting my child’s life at risk, they can’t do anything. Putting my child through the abuse towards me, they can’t do anything. Putting my child through witnessing him being arrested and straight after being released actually breaking his bail conditions, they can’t do anything.

SS say it’s the responsibility of me to keep him safe. I said I am doing that by requesting help from them and police.
They said it’s the responsibility of the police to take action.
The police said it’s the responsibility of SS to take action.

I’ve spoken to many officers lately and they’ve all been very helpful, all but the last one. One had arranged for a priority safety check on my son by the police but the last one cancelled this and said the rules have recently changed and they can’t do a welfare check unless a child’s life is in immediate danger! Apart from the fact this sounds ludicrous and none of the other, maybe 5 or 6 officers I spoke to said this, he did put my child’s life at risk, but apparently according to her, it’s over and done with now!

I just cannot believe what’s going on. It’s been over a year now and SS have not done their jobs, their priority is to make sure my child is safe and well and he’s not been and still isn’t and there’s plenty of evidence for this.

SS denied they can apply to courts for a protection order, denied they can escalate anything, denied they can even do a pre-proceedings, they say they can’t do anything at all and the case is not a priority which is why they haven’t reopened it despite at least 3 referrals from police and I know other professionals have also made referrals this past month as they are concerned for my sons safety and some family members have too.
(Many other ongoing, to this day, incidents of neglect also which professionals have witnessed and told SS about, not just the above)

What on earth can I do?!

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 3417
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: SS not following procedures

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Apr 04, 2022 11:47 am

Dear LMJ17,

I am sorry to hear that things have not progress with your case and that you continue to have ongoing concerns about your son's safety that are not being addressed.

Firstly, you say that your complaint was upheld by the ombudsman and that you have attended a meeting with an independent person, who has asked you to sign a condensed version of your complaint. You do not feel this document includes everything that you would like to be addressed - in this case, I would advise that you speak to the independent reviewer about these specific points before you sign anything. If you are not satisfied with this, and think that the local authority have acted unlawfully by not fulfilling their duties, you may want to seek legal advice regarding a judicial review as outlined in my earlier response.

It is also concerning to hear that your local authority is refusing to reopen an assessment given the recent events that you describe and the fact that multiple professionals have made referrals about your son's safety. Have you considered writing to the director of children's services about this and approaching your MP again? You can also make a separate formal complaint.

Finally, I can understand your worry for your son's safety and would strongly suggest you look into applying for a child arrangements order, also outlined in my previous post.

Best wishes,

Suzie.

LMJ17
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2021 1:40 pm

Re: SS not following procedures

Post by LMJ17 » Wed Apr 06, 2022 1:23 pm

Hi Suzie,

Many thanks for your quick response.

I have emailed the people involved with my complaint and politely explained my reasons why I don’t want to sign anything. They were understanding and respectful in their response.

The NSPCC also did a referral to SS. I received a reply from SS saying they have made the decision that they are not taking the matter forward. No explanation as to why not.
On Monday I replied pointing out the main facts and reminding them the have a duty to investigate. I have not received a reply as of yet.

I did update my MP and he was the one who was in contact with the director of children’s services. I asked him to pass on my concerns and questions to him but I am yet to get a response.

They are not fulfilling their statutory duties whatsoever and no amount of evidence seems to be enough for them. I just don’t understand why they refuse point blank to do anything especially with the overwhelming amount of evidence there is proving without a shadow of a doubt that my son is being neglected and abused.

I really would like to know why they keep saying there is nothing they can do and that they can’t apply to the courts for a protection order, they keep saying they don’t have the power to do this. This doesn’t make any sense as they do have that power and they can do it as there is so much evidence, even form the police! Apparently they can’t even do a section 47 either!

This is so urgent and no one replies and if they do it takes so long and is not helpful.

My son is at risk of significant harm, still. I’m so, so desperate, I can’t hang around waiting for complaints processes, responses from directors, solicitors etc, I need help now before something even more serious happens. His life has already been put at risk so why are they not actively trying to protect my son from this?! I don’t want my son ending up being some peer review or test case for how not to do things.

I really appreciate your help and your time in replying, thank you very much.

User avatar
Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 3417
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: SS not following procedures

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Apr 13, 2022 10:54 am

Dear LMJ17

Thank you for your reply. I can see that you are still very worried about your son.

I am sorry that you have not had a response yet from Children’s Services in relation to your most recent contact with them. It is good to hear that the Complaints Department responded appropriately to you. As you are engaged in a complaints process this will now need to be completed.

You have shared your concerns with all the statutory services and the NSPCC, a child protection charity. If any of these agencies share your dissatisfaction with Children’s Services’ assessment of your son’s situation and response they could raise this directly with Children’s Services.

Have you sought legal advice from a solicitor in relation to what you can do as a parent with parental responsibility e.g. your private law options? Please see my advice/ summary of the issues in the paragraph on ‘living arrangements with your son’
(my response on 07/12 ) about the different options.

Please see our legal advice and information page for contact details of private law solicitors and advice services.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes

Suzie

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