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Pembrokeshire County Council failed to deal with a mother’s complaint about the sexual assault of her daughter properly the Public Services Ombudsman has ruled, with an offer of compensation rejected.

A report to governance and audit committee next week outlines the Ombudsman’s investigation and ruling in the case of ‘Mrs A’ and her daughter ‘B’ after a complaint was made in 2019 that the council failed to safeguard B in line with its statutory duty.

The complaint added that there was a failure 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 and that the authority’s complains process was not followed in an appropriate and timely manner.

A number of elements of the complaint were upheld by the Ombudsman and the failings were found to have caused “significant stress, distress and inconvenience, what was an injustice to them.”

The investigation did not uphold one aspect, finding 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.”

The Ombudsman found there was a failure to communicate and share information with Mrs A and B in relation to council statutory duties, enquiry outcomes not provided in a timely manner and also “maladministration” when the council failed to consider whether to review/monitor the school’s handling of the complaint and was unable to provide copies of review administration.

“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 report published in October adds.

The council has formally apologised to the mother and daughter, with offers of £500 compensation each for the distress, and £250 for Mrs A for not handling the complaint appropriately, rejected as they are seeking further advice.

Pembrokeshire County Council has developed an action plan to ensure that “learning is captured and service improvements are implemented in a timely manner,” and this will also be discussed by the committee on November 30.

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