Derbyshire dad was not told his children were put at risk from ex-wife’s ‘drunk and disorderly’ new partner

A Derbyshire dad was not told that his children were put at risk from his ex-wife’s ‘drunk and disorderly’ new partner, forcing a council to apologise.

Sunday, 7th July 2019, 11:26 am
Children were put at risk by an ex-wife's 'drunk and disorderly' new partner

Derbyshire County Council was ordered to make the apology in a case revealed by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

The case, overseen by the ombudsman, a council watchdog, revolves around Mr C – who has been renamed to maintain anonymity.

Mr C is divorced from his former wife – Ms E.

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The former couple have two children who live with Ms E and her new partner, Mr E.

Mr C does not have any contact with his children and was, when the incident  took place, preparing for contact proceedings in family court.

The alarming incident – of which Mr C was not informed – occurred in early 2018.

A report from the ombudsman states that Mr E became drunk and disorderly in the home he shares with Ms E and the children.

The report says that Ms E, fearing for the safety of herself and her children, locked herself and them into the bathroom.

Mr E then threatened self-harm.

An ambulance was called and this caused the council’s children’s services department to carry out single assessments for both children.

The county council social workers concerned did not contact Mr C for the assessment.

He only became aware of the incident when he was informed of it at court during the contact proceedings.

Mr C lodged a formal complaint about this and the council apologised.

The council ‘accepts that the social worker was at fault for a failure to involve him and management was at fault for a failure to spot the error’.

The ombudsman says: “These failures must have been upsetting to Mr C and this was an injustice.

“However, the council has apologised.

“It informed the social worker (a student) who failed to contact him that she should have done so and has issued guidance to all staff saying they should always contact those with parental responsibility for assessments even if they have no contact with the children.

“It also found that Mr C’s input would have made no difference to the assessment process itself.”

However, the ombudsman said: “I cannot find that the failure to inform Mr C of the incident or to involve him in the investigation had any impact on his chances of contact with his children or caused him any increased legal expenditure.”

The council has since invited Mr C to comment on the incident and to have these comments stored on the case files for each child – which are also available for the children’s schools to access.

In its final decision, the ombudsman said: “The council was at fault. It has already apologised and acted to ensure such failures do not recur. I do not recommend a further remedy.”

A spokesman for county council said: “We accept failings in this case and we have apologised.

“We have issued guidance to all staff so that this error does not happen again.”

Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service