The number of complaints into the council’s children’s services has increased, but the manager says this is not a bad thing.
Mary Umrigar, Head of Performance and Projects, delivered the annual report into the service from April 2013 to the end of March 2014 at a council scrutiny meeting last Thursday (November 13).
During this time there were 131 complaints at stage one, the management review stage. Of those, 72 per cent were not upheld, 23 per cent were partially upheld, two per cent were upheld and no decision has been made on the final three per cent.
At stage two, the independent investigation level, there were eight complaints, 12.5 per cent upheld, 12.5 per cent not upheld and 75 per cent partially upheld.
The third stage, the panel review, saw five complaints, all of which were partially upheld.
Ms Umrigar said: “There’s an increase in our complaint numbers which as the manager I think is a good thing. The more complaints we have the more opportunity we have to improve.
“Last year we had eight complaints referred to the Ombudsman and none were upheld.
“In the work plan for this year we are looking to review our policies and practices and looking at a working relationship with health services.”
Ms Umrigar mentioned the reason for delay in dealing with complaints is if the complaint was unclear and said they always acknowledge receipt, although members of the public gallery at the meeting were shaking their heads at this comment.
The manager added the voice of the child is the heart of the complaints process and that they have integrated learning with schools and the police.
Walpole ward councillor Gareth Shaw said: “The percentage of complaints from black people is significantly lower than white people - is that anything to do with working with those communities?”
Ms Umrigar said if you put together the black and Asian communities the numbers are pretty much the same (as the white) but was unsure and said she would go away and double check.
Children’s Services is required to report annually to committee on social care complaints.