Thursday, September 24, 2009

LGO: More ways to reduce investigations?

It has come to my attention that the LGO are now sending out letters to complainants using the cost of investigation their complaint as an additional factor for not doing so.

The LGO already use their discretion not to investigate if they don't think a complainant has suffered enough injustice to warrant an investigation. They also use their discretion not to investigate a complaint if they don't think the maladministration is bad enough to warrant an investigation.

Read more about this here and here and then read this which proves this is a new(ish) phenomenon.

However, it would now appear that they are also using their discretion not to investigate a complaint if it is going to cost them too much money to do so. That means that complainants need to suffer a substantial amount of injustice through a serious act of council maladministration that can be investigated on the cheap before the LGO will investigate your complaint.

I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to identify when this insidious policy started.

I would like to know on what date,

1) the Commission for Local Administration in England started to factor in the likely cost of an investigation into their decision whether to investigate a complaint or not?

2) you made the department of Communities and Local Government aware that you were no longer deciding to investigate complaints based on merit alone?

3) you made complainants aware that the decision to investigate their complaint would no longer be made on merit alone?

Here is an existing LGO policy designed to save money

Even if a complainant manages to get through the above and persuade the LGO to investigate all they usually do is ring up the council and ask them if they have done anything wrong. If the council say no the LGO refuses to investigate further. Don't believe me? Well that is what they did in the famous Balchins case in 1999 and they did it to me when I submitted my second complaint during 2002. I even have a letter from an Assistant Ombudsman who argues there is nothing wrong with that approach. More here

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