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6.1 Complaints

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This is a multi agency procedure relating to complaints about Child Protection Conferences.

Complaints about individual agencies, their performance and the provision or non-provision of services should be responded to in accordance with the relevant agency’s complaints procedure.

AMENDMENT

Section 5, Procedure was updated in December 2012 in relation to the timescales where a Child Protection Conference is to be reconvened - this must be arranged within 10 days of the Stage 2 Panel (rather than 14 days as the procedure previously stated).


Contents

  1. Who can Complain?
  2. Timescale for Complaint
  3. Grounds for Complaint
  4. Information About the Right to Complain
  5. Procedure


1. Who can Complain?

1.1

The following are eligible to complain about the process or outcome of a Child Protection Conference:

  1. The child (if of sufficient age and understanding;
  2. A person acting on behalf of the child, for example a solicitor, advocate or Children’s Guardian;
  3. Parents;
  4. Those with Parental Responsibility;
  5. Carers.
1.2 A complaint can be made irrespective of attendance at the Child Protection Conference.


2. Timescale for Complaint

2.1 A complaint must be sent to the Conference Chair or the Child Protection and Review Unit Manager within 28 days of the Child Protection Conference in respect of which the complaint is made.


3. Grounds for Complaint

The complaint may relate to:

  • The process of the Child Protection Conference;
  • The outcome of the Child Protection Conference - either a decision that the child should be subject to a Child Protection Plan or which of the Categories of Significant Harm the decision was based upon;
  • The decision that a child should not be subject to a Child Protection Plan or a decision to continue a Child Protection Plan or a decision to discontinue a Child Protection Plan.
3.1 Where a child is subject to a Child Protection Plan, the Plan will continue to operate until the complaints procedure has been concluded.


4. Information about the Right to Complain

4.1 The Conference Chair will inform those eligible to complain (see Section 1, Who can Complain?) who attend the Child Protection Conference of their right to make a complaint under this procedure and the timescale.
4.2 Written confirmation of the right to complain will be in the record of the Child Protection Conference and will also be sent to those eligible with the decisions and recommendations made at the Conference.
4.3 The child’s social worker will also reinforce this right in his or her communications with those eligible both before and after the Child Protection Conference.


5. Procedure

The complaint should be addressed to the Conference Chair or the Child Protection and Review Unit Manager, who will respond in accordance with the following procedure.


5.1


Stage One

5.1.1 This is an “informal resolution stage”.
5.1.2 If the complainant feels unable to meet the Conference Chair, they should address the complaint to the Child Protection and Review Unit Manager.
5.1.3 As soon as practicable after receipt of the complaint, the Conference Chair or the Child Protection and Review Unit Manager will arrange a meeting with the complainant. The purpose of the meeting is to establish the nature of the complaint and to achieve an early resolution wherever possible.
5.1.4 Complainants may not go straight to Stage Two - the attempt at informal resolution at Stage One is a prerequisite.


5.2


Stage Two

5.2.0

If a resolution at Stage One is not possible, the complainant will be advised that he or she may invoke Stage Two by setting out their complaint formally in writing to the Chair of the Local Safeguarding Children Board within 14 days of the Stage One Meeting. The following information should be provided by the complainant:

  • The child’s name;
  • The date of the Child Protection Conference;
  • The grounds for the complaint.
5.2.1 Where the complainant requires assistance to provide the above, this must be offered or arranged by the Conference Chair or the keyworker.
5.2.2 Upon receipt of the written complaint, the Chair of the Local Safeguarding Children Board will acknowledge receipt of the complaint, advise the child’s social worker/Keyworker and the Child Protection and Review Unit of the complaint and request all papers relating to the relevant Conference, including the Conference Reports and the records of any meetings.
5.2.3

The LSCP Chair will also appoint an Inter Agency Panel to consider the complaint, comprising a Chair and two other members (one of whom must be from a member agency which has had no involvement in the case).

The Panel should consider whether the relevant inter-agency protocols and procedures have been observed correctly, and whether the decision that is being complained about follows reasonably from the proper observation of the protocol(s).

The Panel will have the power to make the following decisions:

  1. To uphold the complaint and require the Child Protection Conference to reconvene within 10 days with a different Conference Chair. That Conference should reconsider its previous decision taking into account any views expressed by the Panel;
  2. To uphold the Conference decision on the basis that the decision was justified having regard to the criteria to be satisfied, adherence to protocols and procedures and the information presented.
5.2.4 The Chair of the Inter Agency Panel will set up a Panel meeting within 28 days of the receipt of the complaint.
5.2.5 The Panel members will be provided in advance of the meeting with copies of the complaint, Conference reports and Conference records.
5.2.6 The complainant and Conference Chair will be advised by the Panel Chair of the date, time and venue for the Panel meeting and will be invited to attend. This will occur at least 10 working days in advance.
5.2.7 The complainant will be advised of the right to bring a friend or supporter to the panel meeting.
5.2.8 The child’s social worker/Keyworker will be advised of the date of the Panel meeting but is not required to attend.
5.2.9

The procedure at the Panel meeting will be as follows:

  • The Panel Chair will introduce the members;
  • The complainant will present his or her case to the Panel;
  • The Conference Chair or Child Protection and Review Unit Manager may ask the complainant points of clarification;
  • Panel members may ask the complainant points of clarification;
  • The Conference Chair or Child Protection and Review Unit Manager will present the reasons for the Conference decision or a statement on the way in which the Conference was conducted;
  • The complainant may ask the Conference Chair or Child Protection and Review Unit Manager points of clarification;
  • Panel members may ask the Conference Chair or Child Protection and Review Unit Manager points of clarification;
  • The complainant, his/her supporter and the Conference Chair/Child Protection and Review Unit Manager will leave the Panel meeting;
  • The Panel will consider the issues and make a decision;
  • The Panel decision will be communicated in writing to the complainant and the Conference Chair/Child Protection and Review Unit Manager within 3 working days of the meeting;
  • The Panel decision will also be communicated by the Child Protection and Review Unit to all those who attended the Conference within 7 working days of the Panel meeting;
  • In the event, that the Child Protection Conference is to be reconvened, the Child Protection and Review Unit Manager or Conference Chair will contact all original invitees to advise of the reason for the reconvened conference and to request that attendance is prioritised in order to ensure a timely consideration of the child’s needs.
5.2.10 In communicating the Panel decision to the complainant, the Panel Chair may advise him or her of alternative or more suitable remedies for addressing the complaint, e.g. an individual agency’s complaint procedure or seeking legal advice.
5.2.11 Whilst the Panel decision is final, if the complainant remains dissatisfied, he or she will be advised to seek legal advice or to consult his/her M.P.

End