24 August 2006

Mr Ray Cowlishaw
Chief Executive
Derby City Council
Council House
Corporation Street
DERBY
DE1 2FS

OPEN LETTER

Re:  Complaints about treatment I have received from Derby City Council

Dear Mr Cowlishaw,

I wish to complain about treatment that I have received from Derby City Council, in particular the former Social Services, following my application to become a foster carer in 2004.

Since this matter has now been dragging on for over two years and the Council have failed to resolve it, I am now writing to you in an open letter.   This letter may be found on http://www.rottenborough.org.uk/RayCowlishawDerby.html 

I have written to the Local Government Ombudsman for help, but their investigator gave me to understand that most of my complaints do not come under their remit and therefore they have not investigated them.   If necessary I may request the Ombudsman to reconsider, but I am first giving you the opportunity to rectify the problems, particularly in view of the fact that I have not as yet brought all aspects of my complaint before the Ombudsman.

There are several aspects to my complaint, as shown below.

Failure to Follow Correct Procedure in Assessing My Application

In July 2004 the former Social Services (now Children and Young People’s Services) informed me that they would not proceed any further with my application to become a foster carer of children in care.

I have repeatedly asked the former Social Services for the reasons that my application was turned down but they have given no consistent explanation.

Currently 10,000 more foster carers are needed, according to one fostering organisation.   Indeed, in a story published on May the 25th 2006 it is stated that Derby City Council “currently needs to find 40 new foster carers”, partly to prevent cared for children from having to go into children’s homes or to foster carers outside Derby.   My reasons for applying remain unchanged:  there is a need, and I think I could help to meet it.   I pursued the matter because this need has not gone away.

Two social workers from Derby City Council left me part of a photocopied booklet entitled Becoming a foster carer:  An applicant’s guide to the assessment process (put out by the Fostering Network).   This booklet explains that there are fourteen areas of competence.   These are outlined in the extensive reference questionnaires that referees fill in.   The booklet goes on to say that we “do not need to be equally able in every area”, and that the job of the social worker allocated to prospective carers is to help them to “recognise the skills you already have, and work with you in developing new ones”, both now and after being approved to foster.   They evidently do not expect applicants to have perfect references;  there are issues to be dealt with, and that is why they train us.   We are not expected to have all the necessary skills at the beginning of the training process.

When applying for a job, people get turned down because although their qualifications are good, somebody else’s are better.   But in the case of foster carers, the agencies need all the people they can get, so long as they are suitable after training.   They do not turn people down because they do not want to train them, as might happen in the case of applying for normal paid work.   With fostering, candidates get assessed for six months, and they are trained in that time … and continue to be trained after the applicant has become a foster carer.

Additionally, the booklet Becoming a foster carer:  An applicant’s guide to the assessment process says that if our application is turned down then we should discuss with the social worker the reasons for this.   The same document also advises that if we are interested in reapplying then the assessment panel may have made a recommendation about something we need to do to make them more favourable to a future application.   At no time have the former Social Services done this.   I have repeatedly asked what there is in my application or the related evidence to make the former Social Services think I can never be suitable to become a foster carer, even after training, but they refuse to answer.

They have been unhelpful in the extreme.   I have specifically asked on which of their own criteria outlined in the fourteen competencies they fail me, and they consistently refuse to state.   Yet all my personal references gave some very positive evidence and every single one of the fourteen competencies contains positive evidence from my referees, in some cases very positive.

Nor is it simply that the former Social Services turned down my application, but they told me that there was no point in reapplying.  

It is relevant to note that my personal referees were unanimous in saying that I am very good at being trained, so any possible doubts could have been addressed and would not have proved to be an insurmountable obstacle.   But the former Social Services made no attempt to address any alleged outstanding issues.

It is also relevant to note that on two separate occasions Derby City Council’s former Social Services placed one or two children with me, after checking the prospective child’s bedroom.   One occasion was before my application to become a foster carer, and the second was in March 2005, after I had been turned down.

In view of this second occasion, I asked Katie Harris (Head of Service for Fostering and Adoption) to reconsider my application in May 2005 based on this further evidence, but she refused, and indeed did not even mention the matter in her response to my letter.

I had been told, in a letter dated June the 8th 2004 from Sally Penrose (the Fostering Manager), that she hoped to allocate my assessment to a social worker shortly.   My prospective social worker would presumably have addressed any issues, yet the former Social Services have done nothing to assess whether any doubts that they may have about me are valid or insurmountable.

These points are made not mainly in order to assess whether or not I am capable of becoming suitable to be a foster carer, once trained, but to demonstrate that the former Social Services have failed to evaluate the evidence properly.   In view of the very positive evidence that has been produced in my references, surely nobody is benefited by this approach, with the possible exception of social workers who have decided for their own reasons that they do not wish to work with me.

Please would you investigate this matter for me.   In particular, would you get the former Social Services to write telling me exactly how I fall short of their own fourteen competencies for becoming a foster carer, and advising me also how I might amend any problems.

Even apart from the above comments, the Fostering Services Regulations 2002 state: 

If a fostering service provider considers that a person is not suitable to act as a foster parent it shall - 

(a)   give him written notice that it proposes not to approve him, together with its reasons and a copy of the fostering panel's recommendation;  and

(b)   invite him to submit any written representations within 28 days of the date of the notice.”

At no time has the former Social Services done this, and therefore they surely cannot validly disapprove me as a foster carer until they have followed this procedure.   If they do not wish to pursue my application for any reason, then once they have withdrawn their original decision of July 2004 they should give me written notice of their proposal not to approve me, together with all their reasons and a copy of the fostering panel’s recommendation and give me the opportunity to respond.

I have requested the Council to reverse their decision not to pursue my application to become a foster carer, on the basis that the Council did not follow the proper procedure in making this decision, but they have failed to comply with this request.   Mr Michael Foote, the Deputy Chief Executive, claims that the Fostering Services Regulations 2002 quoted above “do not apply to [my] situation but to candidates whose completed assessment was turned down by the Fostering Panel”.   However, Derby City Council’s own Fostering Services Policy and Procedures Section 5.19 say “Where a social worker feels that an application should not proceed at any stage during the assessment, this should always be discussed with the relevant Service Manager.”   Section 5.20 of Derby’s Policy and Procedures goes on to say, “If the Service Manager is in agreement, the applicant will be informed of the reasons for not proceeding.   If they do not accept the reasons given, they will be informed by letter of their right to appeal to the Fostering Panel, by making written representations within 28 days of the date of the letter.”   This quite clearly would apply to me, even though my assessment was not completed, since Section 5.19 provides for applicants who are not approved at any stage during the assessment.   Mr Foote refers to the appeal as being applicable only to those whose assessment has been completed and turned down by the Fostering Panel, but Derby’s own Policy and Procedures state that we can appeal to the Fostering Panel whatever stage of the assessment we were in.

In view of the former Social Services’ failure to follow proper procedure, it seems to me that Derby City Council has no reasonable alternative but to backtrack and now follow that procedure.

Misrepresentation of the Facts

I am very concerned that senior social workers from the Fostering and Adoption Team of Derby’s former Social Services (now the Children and Young People’s Department) seriously misrepresented the facts, and attempted to hide the real reason for non-acceptance of my application by falsely making out that the reasons were contained in confidential references from three of my personal referees.   This is a very serious matter:  I am somewhat loath to say this, but it looks to me as if Katie Harris  (Head of Service for Fostering and Adoption) flagrantly lied to me.

Initially, for a period of months, the former Social Services and in particular Katie Harris insisted that the reasons they had turned me down were “initial concerns” together with information contained in confidential personal references, and that they could therefore not be more specific.

Thus in a letter dated July the 16th 2004, Sally Penrose (the Fostering Manager) mentions “initial concerns” about my accommodation and number of pets.   She then states that they had received “some adverse references.    As this information is confidential I am not able to disclose full details”.   Subsequently I received a letter dated August the 4th 2004 from Katie Harris (Head of Service for Fostering and Adoption), in which she states “due to confidentiality I am unable to expand on our decision any further”.

Yet subsequently Katie Harris does just this, that is she does expand on their decision, as does Anna Pollard their solicitor.   The only confidential references were three of my personal references, as opposed to those references from any other source.   Indeed, before eventually disclosing the references (or any of the evidence) to my solicitor, Katie Harris wrote to these three of my personal referees asking their permission to disclose (all three gave this permission);  she did not write to the other sources (apparently) asking their permission because their references were not confidential.

But the former Social Services now claims alleged reasons which are not contained in any of the three confidential personal references, instead coming from other evidence.   This looks to me like making up excuses after the event.   Granted their disinclination to tell me what my confidential personal referees had said without permission, they could have told me as long ago as July 2004 the other alleged reasons, those which were obtained from other specified sources including Derby City Social Services.

Thus in a letter of July the 4th 2005, Katie Harris states that I had “already been given the outline explanation in the letter of 16th July 2004”, and says that I have asked for further detailed information as to why they would not proceed with assessing me as a foster carer.   She then goes on to elaborate, alleging further reasons for my application having been turned down, but in so doing she contradicts the information that she gave me in 2004, since she then claimed that the only significant reasons were contained in the confidential references provided by two or three of my personal referees, and the evidence which she now additionally alleges against me she already held at the time she told me that she could give me no details, apart from a final alleged point that she feels “there is sufficient information now available to show that we would find it difficult to have a positive working relationship with you or for you to accept the procedural standards to which we have to work”, which is presumably due to the ensuing conflict following their refusal to disclose the information which I requested.

Likewise the letter of Anna Pollard (the solicitor for Derby City Council) dated February the 22nd 2005 is referred to as indicating “many concerns”.   But Anna Pollard’s alleged evidence as to why my application was discontinued comes from sources other than my confidential references, as she lists four different headings, including “Derby City social services”.

I thus have conflicting information from the Fostering and Adoption Unit of the former Social Services as to the reasons that my application to become a foster carer was turned down.   Since the confidential references were disclosed, I have asked the former Social Services which of my references taken in their entirety were adverse, but they have refused to state.

It seems that Katie Harris is simply making up reasons after the event, having previously hidden behind the excuse that some of my personal references were confidential.   Indeed, the former Social Services’ own “Tracking” log gives “Unsatisfactory reference checks” as the “Reason for Closure” of my application assessment on July the 19th 2004, with no mention being made of any other alleged reasons which Katie Harris subsequently alleges.

This suggests to me a flagrant misrepresentation of the facts.   Either the former Social Services (in collusion with their solicitor) fabricated the additional excuses from the different sources after the event, or they were the original reasons, in which case Katie Harris told a falsehood in stating that she could not reveal the reasons beyond stating “initial concerns” plus unspecified confidential adverse references.

It looks as if Katie Harris was using the confidentiality of some of my personal references for her own ends, and then was obliged to make up excuses for the decision once she knew that my solicitor had the references in question.

I have written to the Local Government Ombudsman about this flagrant misrepresentation of facts, but the Ombudsman’s office is not investigating this part of my complaint.

Obstruction and Breaking of Data Protection Law by Katie Harris

I also wish to express my grave concerns about Katie Harris’s deliberate obstruction and flagrant breaking of Data Protection Law, even after receiving correct legal advice on the matter, as well as her attempt to hide the real reasons for refusing to pursue my application.   The Ombudsman is not dealing with this aspect of my complaint, and the Deputy Chief Executive Mr Michael Foote also refuses to investigate it.

The reason I say that Katie Harris broke the Data Protection Law quite deliberately and knowingly, is that according to the Council’s own evidence, Katie Harris should have provided me with their file on me by October the 12th 2004, as that was when the forty days from receiving my request ended.   But Alison Jones (the Council’s Data Protection Officer) states that a copy of the file was provided to my solicitors on November the 24th 2004, which is a further forty-three days later.

This problem was obviously not due to accidental error or ignorance as to how to handle the matter of references which were confidential, since Alison Jones admits in her report that legal advice given to Katie Harris on September the 14th 2004 “correctly advised to write for consent to disclose”, and that the former Social Services did not write to ask for consent until October the 22nd 2004, which is 38 days later.   Alison Jones states that Katie Harris was “unable to recall why this took so long when [she] asked her during [their] interview on the 6 December 2005”.   The fact is that Katie Harris had received legal advice and refused to follow it. 

Surely this matter raises a serious question as to the integrity and indeed suitability for post of Katie Harris, and whether she should have responsibility for the placing of vulnerable children.   If she purposely, knowingly and obstructively breaks Data Protection Law and misrepresents information in my case, presumably she does it with other people as well.   How many families with their children in care have had facts distorted and misrepresented at the convenience or whim of Ms Harris?   How many other potential foster carers or adoptive parents have had their applications turned down or false evidence given against them simply on the whim or convenience of Ms Harris?   Most candidates probably would not manage to obtain their personal references if Ms Harris alleges that they are adverse, and this may create discord between them and their referees, as well as the fact that they have had their applications turned down for no good reason.

I have complained to the Ombudsman about these matters, and I understand that their office is handling the fact that Katie Harris delayed well beyond the permitted forty days in providing me with the evidence on file on me.

However, the Ombudsman is not dealing with the ensuing issue as to Katie Harris’s suitability for post or the related issue of her telling falsehoods as to the reasons for turning down my application.

I should appreciate it if you would therefore investigate this very serious matter.

Obstruction and Breaking of Data Protection Law by Alison Jones

In addition to the above matters, there is a matter still outstanding where I have not been provided with requested data within forty days in line with Data Protection Law.   As long ago as May 2005, I requested access to all information that the former Social Services held relating to me, whatever department or unit of the former Social Services held them.

More specifically, I reiterated this request in a letter dated June the 16th 2006 to Mr Michael Foote, in particular requesting “the logs and records and any other information whatsoever that Reshem Toor based her comments on”.

In a letter dated July the 3rd 2006, Mrs Alison Jones, the Council’s Data Protection Officer, informed me that she was “liaising” with Resham Toor, and in a further letter dated July the 24th 2006 Mrs Jones stated this again.   She also made a request for some information from me in order to assist her to locate other records on me, and so I wrote to her on July the 31st 2006 suggesting that I might obtain all the information that I need if she provided me with the logs and records and any other information whatsoever that Resham Toor based her comments on.   In this letter I reminded Mrs Jones of the forty-day deadline for requests for information under the Data Protection Act.

However, it is now over fifty days since the first of these letters from Mrs Jones (and longer since Mr Foote at the Council received my request), and yet I have heard nothing more apart from a letter dated August the 8th 2006 from Mrs Jones, in which she acknowledges receipt of my letter dated July the 31st.

Since Mrs Jones herself breaks Data Protection Law as regards the forty-day time limit for providing information, how can she possibly be suited to the job of Data Protection Officer?   Precisely what is she paid for?

I would appreciate it if you would please investigate this matter as soon as possible.

Refusal to Correct Inaccurate Data

When the former Social Services finally did disclose my records, I found several inaccuracies, some more serious than others.   I listed seven in a letter dated May the 17th 2005 to Katie Harris, and Mrs Alison Jones, the Council’s Data Protection Officer, has prepared a report in which she comments on each of seven, but has offered no satisfactory solution.

Inaccurate Records 1 and 2 I never saw as being very significant, but mentioned them as a matter of accuracy.   In addition they serve to demonstrate the inefficiency and carelessness of the record keeping of the former Social Services.   Inaccurate Records 4 and 5 have some relevance, but the main outstanding matters that need correction are contained in Inaccurate Records 3, 6 and 7.

Inaccurate Record 3

This relates to whether or not I had had a child placed with me for one night by a social worker from the former Derby Social Services.   The Case Record Sheet dated 11/05/04 from the former Social Services says that on one occasion a social worker from Derby reception team had contemplated placing a child with me for the night but that this did not happen.   This is inaccurate, as the former Social Services did leave the child with me for a night.

Katie Harris states in an internal memorandum dated December the 12th 2005 that “with the mention of the ‘overnight’ stay – we would have seen no significance in either outcome…”.   Mrs Alison Jones’s report on this goes on to say (page 4) that Katie Harris acknowledged to Alison Jones in an interview on December the 6th 2005 “that children are often placed in homes for respite care” and that “an overnight stay would bear no significance to Dr Taylor’s application”.

This is manifestly untrue.   Children who are placed in respite care are presumably only so placed if the accommodation is approved, and on both occasions when children were placed with me (in August 2003 and March to April 2005) one or more social workers did check where the child(ren) would be sleeping.

Additionally, if the question of a child being placed with me for respite care was of no significance, the Fostering and Adoption Unit would not have sought to follow it up.   Yet their own logs record that they made not just one but two telephone calls attempting to gather information on this from the Reception Unit of the former Social Services.

Thus the Fostering team’s log dated May the 27th 2004 says that while Marian Quill (one of the social workers who visited me to talk about fostering) was discussing with Sally Penrose (the Fostering Manager) matters relating to my house and pets, Ms Quill attempted to ring Resham Toor of the Reception Unit to ask about the matter of Derby Reception team having “contemplated” placing a child with me for a night.   On this occasion Resham Toor was unavailable to comment, according to the log.   The fact that they attempted to contact her in the middle of a discussion on whether my house was suitable for foster children obviously indicates that they saw it as significant and relevant.

The importance and significance of the question of whether the former Social Services had placed a child in my care is further highlighted by the fact that the Fostering and Adoption Unit pursued the matter of questioning Resham Toor about the incident, as their log of July the 15th 2004 indicates that Sally Penrose herself rang Resham Toor to pursue this question.   Since a child was placed with me for a night in August 2003, it appears that either Resham Toor (who herself came to pick up the child from my house) purposely withheld this information from the Fostering team, or else Sally Penrose purposely left the fact out of her log of the conversation.   Yet it was clearly relevant, as showing that Derby Social Services had considered my accommodation suitable for the child to stay in.

The logged telephone call to Resham Toor does not say that the incident did not happen.   Since Sally Penrose rang specifically to ask about this particular incident, why is the outcome not logged in the log dated July the 15th 2004?   I can only assume that it is because the event would tell in my favour, and that they did not wish to pursue my application any further for their own reasons – possibly the fact that in this same telephone call Resham Toor made negative comments about me.

Alison Jones does go on to recommend deleting the words “but in the event this did not happen” from the log of May the 11th 2004 regarding whether they had placed a child with me, on the basis that “Dr Taylor objects to these words”.   However, I do not object merely to the wording, I object to the whole falsehood, whether originally intended or not, and this recommendation is not satisfactory because it fails to reveal the whole truth.   The log should state the full facts – that is, that the child was placed with me.   If the former Social Services object to this suggestion, they should give a reason for their objection.   If they say that it has no significance to my application, why do they object to telling the whole truth about it, rather than only part of the truth?

The log as it stands says:  “On one occasion a S/W from Derby reception team had [considered] placing a child with Imogen overnight, but in the event this did not happen.”   Merely deleting the last eight words does not bring out the truth, which the Fostering team went to the trouble of ringing twice to obtain from social worker Resham Toor.   The log should be made to read, “On one occasion a S/W from Derby reception team placed a child with Imogen overnight”.   This is the exact truth, hiding nothing.   If any member of the former Social Services wishes to say that this is trivial, they should explain why they object to humouring me.

This is not a case where the former Social Services should merely attach a note saying that I disagree with their statement;  it is a matter where they should know the truth from their own records of the particular child, and which they should properly correct.   If the fact that they placed the child with me is not on their records, then why do they agree to amend the record at all?   If it is on their records, why do they not wish to correct it completely to reflect the full truth, rather than leaving the record ambiguous?

Inaccurate Record 6

In the former Social Services log of July the 19th 2004, Sally Penrose expressed the view that potentially I “would struggle to communicate with parents, children and S.W.s [social workers]”.   These comments appear to be merely subjective, however, as Sally Penrose does not say how she reaches her conclusion.   I requested, in my letter of May the 17th 2005, that these comments should be either justified or corrected.  

In her report on this, Alison Jones claims that Sally Penrose based this comment on “knowledge of [my] application, previous contact and own knowledge and experience of working in this specialist role”, yet nowhere in the log of this telephone call does Sally Penrose say this.   Instead, Sally Penrose is referring to a particular conversation which she had with me on July the 19th 2004, concerning which she states in her log that “Without divulging information received it was a difficult t/c [telephone conversation] as [I] kept repeating the need to know about issues raised to allow [me] the opportunity to adjust”.   The fact that Sally Penrose comments that she found the conversation difficult is very subjective.   Anybody may find some conversations “difficult” in the course of their day-to-day life, but Sally Penrose here gives her reasons for finding it difficult, and these reasons were not that I shouted, swore, blamed her personally, or became abusive in any sense of the word – despite the fact that I made the call in response to some upsetting news that the Fostering team had sent me.

Significantly, Sally Penrose ends her log of this conversation by saying that she had agreed to discuss the matter again with Katie Harris.   This is not the action of a trained and experienced social worker who has just received a telephone call that finally confirms their decision against pursuing my application!   It rather suggests that she wrote up her log after deciding with Katie Harris that they still would not pursue my application, as evidenced in a letter to me from Sally Penrose dated July the 19th 2004.

Nowhere does Sally Penrose and/or Katie Harris state in subsequent correspondence with me that their decision to turn my application down was influenced by any comments or attitude displayed in this telephone conversation between Sally Penrose and me, instead they continued to insist that they could give me no further information as to why my application had been turned down.  

Alison Jones has neither justified nor corrected the comment.   The former Social Services should therefore delete it from their log.

Inaccurate Record 7

As to Inaccurate Record 7, I disputed some comments about me apparently made in a telephone call between the social worker Resham Toor and Sally Penrose.   The log says that Resham Toor said that my “attitude toward parents became more judgemental” and that I eventually “became a ‘nuisance’ as was regarded as a ‘do-gooder’”.   I requested that these comments be either justified or corrected.

A letter dated February the 10th 2006 from Mr David Romaine, Scrutiny and Complaints Manager, says that “Ms Toor has confirmed that the comments on the file reflect what she said at the time”, and suggests that Mrs Toor based her comments on “her experience of [me] and on her dealings with [me] over a particular child”, but the comments are still not justified.   Any experience Mrs Toor has of me is presumably contained in the records of one or more particular children, which I have requested but not received.

In her report on this, Mrs Alison Jones states that “What is documented here is a summary of Reshan’s comments and not of an opinion formed by the social worker writing up the notes”.   This suggests that it is merely a subjective opinion being expressed by Resham Toor.

I do not agree with Alison Jones’s recommendation that the record be left standing, and that they merely refer readers to my letter of May the 17th  2005.   Alison Jones herself acknowledges that “after such a long time it will not be possible to remember exact details of conversations, so it is not possible to corroborate this entry”.   She is effectively saying that they do not know either way, and thus I contend that the comments should be deleted from the records.   The records that they keep on me should be accurate irrespective of any further letters which I may or may not send to them.

Indeed, in her letter of July the 4th 2005, Katie Harris states that the “matters, which you raise as factual inaccuracies, I have conceded”.   Since the validity of my complaints of inaccuracies is not in dispute, they should be corrected.   Katie Harris claims that “the only people able to request sight of this file are yourself or a fostering social worker should you wish to make contact with this department again”.   This is not necessarily true, however, since the situation may arise where Derby City Council is requested to give relevant information to some other body or department.

Mishandling of My Complaint and Failure to Follow Correct Complaints Procedure

On June the 28th 2005 I wrote to the then Director of Social Services at Norman House on Friargate, as advised in a leaflet on Complaints which was sent to me by the former Social Services in October 2004.   I complained about the treatment I had received from the Fostering and Adoption Team of the former Derby Social Services.   In response I received a letter dated July the 8th 2005 from Mr Michael Moody, Business and Customer Care Manager, who said that he was “determining what would be the best route to deal with this”, and that he or a colleague would contact me shortly to advise me of this.   However, there were further delays before I finally received a letter dated September the 1st 2005 from Mr Moody, in which he said that he could not deal with the matter, and advised me to take the matter to the Ombudsman.

I was unsure what to do, because the leaflet that the former Social Services sent me in October 2004 also gives Stage 3 of the Complaints Procedure, which says that if I am not happy with the outcome, I can ask an Independent Review Panel to look into it, but Mr Moody did not mention this.   The leaflet goes on to say that I can also complain to the Ombudsman, presumably after this Stage 3.   I thought that the Council was expected to guide me through the complaints process, but Mr Moody failed to do this.

I therefore wrote to the head of former Social Services again, and then to the Ombudsman as I had received no answer from her.   The Ombudsman passed the matter onto Corporate Services in Derby.

I was not satisfied with the results of the investigation which the Corporate Services carried out, but they still did not offer me the option of taking my case to an Independent Review Panel, instead advising me to go the Ombudsman.

However, it seems to me that Derby City Council should have properly advised me, and informed me of how to pass my complaint onto an Independent Review Panel before it went to the Ombudsman.   I have requested Derby City Council to give me this opportunity, but this request has been refused.

The Ombudsman and the Council have admitted that my complaint was mishandled, and the Council has apologised for this.   Further, the Ombudsman’s office is asking the Council to award me compensation for this.   But I am more interested in seeing my complaint now correctly handled.

The Council has deprived me of my right to a hearing before an Independent Review Panel, and apparently they have told the Ombudsman that they do not see any benefit to me in going back into that procedure now.   But it is not for them to make this decision.   They have wronged me, and this wrong should be reversed.

Conclusion

In brief, then, my complaints and concerns are (1) that the Fostering and Adoption Team of the former Derby Social Services failed to follow proper procedure in refusing to continue assessing my application;  (2)  that the Fostering and Adoption Team of the former Derby Social Services seriously misrepresented the facts, and attempted to hide the real reason for non-acceptance of my application by falsely making out that the reasons were contained in confidential references from three of my personal referees;  (3) that Katie Harris has shown herself unfit for her post due to her obstruction and breaking of Data Protection Law;  (4) that Alison Jones has shown herself unfit for her post due to her breaking of Data Protection Law, and that she still fails to provide me with requested information;  (5) that the former Social Services hold inaccurate information on me and refuse to correct it, in spite of having the errors pointed out to them;    (6) that Derby City Council grossly mishandled my complaint and failed to follow correct complaints procedure, in particular that they continue to refuse me my right to a hearing before an Independent Review Panel.

In a letter of June the 27th 2006, Mr Michael Foote (the Deputy Chief Executive) says that Derby City Council cannot carry out parallel or subsequent investigations into my complaint.   However, the Ombudsman’s Investigator Miss Hilary Clarke made it clear in a letter to you dated April the 5th 2006 that the Ombudsman’s office is not pursuing all the aspects of my complaint.

Specifically, the Ombudsman is not investigating any of the first four aspects enumerated above.   The fifth aspect (i.e. the refusal to correct inaccurate records) is not resolved, as the Ombudsman’s investigator has thus far failed to pursue the matter properly.   The sixth aspect has been confirmed as a valid complaint by both the Council and the Ombudsman’s office, but the Ombudsman is not pursuing the matter of my right to a hearing before an Independent Review Panel.

I should therefore appreciate it if you would do all you can to rectify all the points made above.

Thank you for all your help.

Yours sincerely,

 

(Dr) I.T.F. Taylor.