National and Devolved Politics

14.03.19

‘Terrible’ foster care allegations of child abuse not investigated by Birmingham City Council

The local government ombudsman has ordered Birmingham City Council to address a long-standing complaint about child abuse which it said the council had “failed to investigate.”

The complaint from 2014 related to abuse allegations from a foster carer with the complainant, Mr X, reporting his “terrible experience” as a child in Birmingham City Council’s children’s care services.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigated the case and found that the authority had not followed up the complaint in which Mr X described his terrible experience of abuse which he said had had an adverse impact on his mental health.

Mr X, who left the care system when he reached adulthood six years ago, said his experiences had left him in a “depressive state” and requiring therapy.

The city council said it had written to Mr X which he did not find out about until 2017.

He raised the issue again in 2017 but the authority took nearly 60 days to respond to confirm that as the allegations were “historic” they “could not be investigated.”

The regulator criticised the council’s “unreasonable delay” in responding and said that the authority “cannot simply conclude the allegations are historic and so will not be investigated.”

In its report, the ombudsman said “nothing was done” when Mr X first reported the complaint despite him describing his terrible experience of adversity which he said had an impact on his mental health and had left him in a “depressive state” requiring therapy.

“If the foster carer concerned still looks after other children in care then there is a further imperative on the council to consider the allegations.”

The ombudsman said Birmingham City Council should remedy the situation by investigating the complaint now, and the council has also since apologised.

Children’s services in Birmingham were rated as ‘inadequate’ for nearly 10 years up until January this year when Ofsted found “effective” improvements and upped its rating to ‘requires improvement’.

The service was branded a “national disgrace” following a series of children deaths but has since seen marked improvements.

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