William Eichler 08 August 2023

First joint Ombudsmen investigation criticises complaint handling

First joint Ombudsmen investigation criticises complaint handling image
Image: ChooChin / Shutterstock.com.

Nottingham City Council has been criticised for the way it dealt with an antisocial behaviour complaint from a vulnerable resident in what was the first joint investigation by the two Ombudsmen’s services.

For two years between June 2020 and June 2022, the woman – who has medical vulnerabilities – was subject to issues including loud noise, alcohol issues, stones and mud being thrown onto her property and neighbours ‘ganging up on her’.

Both the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) and the Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) investigated her complaint because it involved the local authority and the council’s management organisation, Nottingham City Homes (NCH).

The investigation concluded that Nottingham City Council did not do enough to review the issues the tenant faced via the Community Trigger Mechanism, and NCH took too long to examine whether it could offer her a priority move to another area.

Paul Najsarek, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: ‘The Antisocial Behaviour Community Trigger was set up for exactly this sort of case, where vulnerable people are affected by antisocial behaviour local authorities can convene multi-agency meetings to see how they can best deal with problems.

‘In this case, the behaviour the woman was subject to was having a clear impact on her mental health and she was left for too long in a situation that could have been improved had all organisations carried out their duties efficiently.’

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, added: ‘This joint work with the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman shows how joint investigations can improve services in multiple areas at the same time, whilst providing holistic redress for residents.

‘In the coming months, we will be undertaking more of these joint investigations so that we are able to encourage landlords to view policies and procedures in key areas such as anti-social behaviour.’

A Nottingham City Council spokesperson said: ‘We fully accept the findings of the Ombudsman in what has been a complex and lengthy case. We acknowledge that there are areas in this case where we fell short of what the tenant had every right to expect from us, and we have apologised for that.

‘This case happened some time ago, and we have already made improvements to the way we handle issues of this nature. Feedback from this determination is also being used to review the way we work and inform our continuous improvement journey.’

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