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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Harrow Council apologise and pays £200 to pregnant mum over ‘false and inaccurate’ child protection investigation

A North London council has been forced to apologise and pay a pregnant mum £200 after it used ‘false and inaccurate’ information about her during a child protection investigation. The report highlights council documents that falsely claimed she was ‘non-verbal and under the influence of her husband’.

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) investigated claims that Harrow Council’s failings meant it created a ‘negative view of her and her family’ with social workers. Investigators concluded that the false information may have prejudiced the mum in the child protection assessment.

Council documents had described the mum – referred to in the LGO report as Mrs X – as having been ‘abandoned by her father and non-verbal’. They also stated she is under the influence of her husband who doesn’t ‘allow her to talk to anyone’. Mrs X slammed the statements as being ‘untrue’ and said they create a ‘false impression’.

Harrow Council accepted that some of the information in Mrs X’s file ‘appear non-related to [the] case’, despite having previously denied that any of it may be incorrect. After being contacted by investigators, the local authority agreed that Mrs X has always ‘spoken and been articulate in sharing her views’.

In July 2022, the council suspected that Mrs X’s son, referred to as C, could be in danger after being alerted by the police and began a child protection investigation. Mrs X had called the police to report that she had been assaulted by her husband, Mr X, and when officers visited the house C told them that he had also been beaten.

The police arrested Mr X, who was later released on bail. As part of the bail conditions, he was not allowed to contact or interfere with Mrs X or C, as well as not being allowed to enter the family home for any reason.

Professionals were concerned about the welfare of Mrs X and her unborn child and C, they ultimately decided that they were ‘at risk of harm’ and both C and Mrs X’s unborn child would be placed on a child protection plan under the category of neglect.

The plan permitted a social worker to carry out both announced and unannounced visits to the family. On one unannounced visit, they found Mr X at the home in breach of his bail conditions. Mrs X later complained that the council was ignoring her needs, the false information meant what was decided at meetings didn’t happen, and it would not allow her husband to be present at the hospital when she was giving birth.

Mrs X claimed this caused unnecessary distress, created issues with her husband, and invaded her privacy and her needs, and those of her family, have not been addressed, according to the report. Harrow Council were approached for comment but did not respond ahead of publication.

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