Council apology after West Sussex father misses out on seeing children for months

A West Sussex father has received £2,200 and an apology after mistakes by the county council meant he did not see his children for months.

Friday, 24th September 2021, 10:38 am
Updated Friday, 24th September 2021, 10:38 am
County Hall Chichester. Pic S Robards SR2105051 SUS-210505-160437001

The man – known as Mr X – said he cut contact with the youngsters on the advice of a social worker while an investigation was carried out into allegations  made by his son.

No action was taken and the investigation was closed but no one told Mr X, despite a number of appeals for information.

A report from the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman said the council had not only failed to tell him about the investigation but had also approached the children’s school and GP without his consent.

While the council accepted that it was at fault before Mr X complained to the ombudsman, its efforts to compensate him were not deemed to be good enough.

The ombudsman was happy that £200 was enough to compensate Mr X for his time and trouble in bringing the complaint  but said £300 offered for the distress caused was ‘insufficient’.

It recommended a figure of £2,000 instead, taking the compensation to £2,200.

The ombudsman’s report said: “The impact on his relationship with his children has been profound. He has not now seen them for more than a year. ”

The council also wrote to the children’s mother to make clear that Mr X was not responsible for the breakdown in contact.

A council spokesman said: “We are very sorry that the standard of service we provided to this family fell short of what we would expect and we sincerely apologise.

“We should have informed this individual of the outcome of our assessment straight away so all parties were aware the matter was closed.

“Our communication with this parent was not good enough and we accept that this has had a detrimental impact not only on him but on his two children as well.

“We also accept that consent from this individual should have been sought before contact was made with his children’s GP and school, which was a departure from our normal safeguarding procedures.

“We accept the ombudsman’s findings in full and we have carried out all of the recommendations, including providing the enhanced financial remedy to the complainant.

“A thorough internal investigation has been carried out and the learning from this case will be shared with our children’s service to ensure the mistakes we made do not happen again.