Despite the child threatening to kill her family members – and social workers acknowledging she posed a risk of harm to herself and her three siblings – no action was taken to safeguard them, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) found.
A report on the case says the children’s mother, referred to as Ms W, was made to take her daughter back into her care after she was removed from the family home between July and September 2018.
Following this, Ms W made multiple requests for her daughter to become a ‘looked after child’, but the council failed to consider its legal duty to accommodate her.
The girl, referred to in the report as ‘Child A’, remained living with the family until June 2019 when she was arrested for an assault on one of her siblings and making further threats to kill.
After the arrest, the LGO found Ms W was “pressured” by social workers to take her daughter in again – and was warned she could face prosecution if she refused – until the child was bailed on condition she did not return to the home.
The report says: “In the weeks and months leading to Child A’s arrest in 2019, Ms W made many requests to the council that she become a ‘looked after child’.
“This is because Ms W’s view was that Child A’s behaviour was becoming unmanageable and that she presented a serious risk to both her and her younger children.
“Importantly, this is supported in the case notes held by the council.
“In summary, the council noted and acknowledged that Child A posed a risk of significant harm in the home.
“This mainly related to her causing damage at Ms W’s home, making threats to kill members of her family and researching methods for doing so online.”
The ombudsman judged that, despite the circumstances and the fact the girl had been identified as a ‘child in need’, “there was a wholesale failure by the council to consider accommodating Child A”.
The report says this caused “serious distress and alarm” to the mother.
It goes on to say the council had identified the risks Child A posed to her siblings, but “no actions were taken to safeguard the children or promote their welfare and needs”.
This caused Ms W to ” worry for the safety of her other children”, the report says.
The report concludes: “The council was at fault for several failings in its approach to both Ms W, her family and Child A.
“Mainly, the council failed to properly consider its legal duties to accommodate Child A.
“It disregarded the risks of significant harm identified and pressured Ms W into housing Child A in a way which exposed Ms W and her family to harm.
“This caused Ms W a serious injustice and so I have recommended several remedies.”
The council has been ordered to pay Ms W £1,200 for the “serious distress she suffered over a prolonged period of time”, and to compensate for the fact the family should have been offered therapy.
A further £200 must be paid due to the time Ms W has spent pursuing the complaint, and the council must provide a written apology.
The report adds that the independent investigator appointed by the council had recommended a series of improvements as a result of the case, and that the ombudsman was satisfied these had been implemented. It therefore did not recommend any further improvements.
A council spokesman said: “Shropshire Council has accepted the findings of the ombudsman.
“The original complaint was made several years ago and an action plan was put in place to address the issues.”