Headlines: October 30th, 2009

A London borough council is being criticised today by the Local Government Ombudsman for its inadequate response to a girl’s requests for help as a child in need. In his report, Tony Redmond says Waltham Forest was not directly responsible for the abuse she suffered but he has no doubt her suffering was exacerbated by the council’s failure to assess her properly and provide support.

He has ruled that there was maladministration causing injustice and he is urging the council to apologise to the young woman involved and pay her compensation of seven thousand pounds. He also wants the borough to review its methods for  assessing children in need and the way it deals with complaints after he found the authority’s initial failings were compounded by the poor handling the complaint.

The Ombudsman said the young woman had suffered very serious abuse. She had been described as being extremely troubled, having behavioural and emotional difficulties and suicidal thoughts. She had faced problems due to lack of adult support, been diagnosed as being depressed and her life was ‘dangerous and unsupported”.

Although the response to the initial contact was appropriate, subsequent assessments her needs were inadequate, the council failed to take proper account of her wishes and took other information at face value. It also failed its duty to work with other agencies. The failings meant she lost out on support that should have been provided, exacerbating the harm she was suffering.