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1.3.1 Representations, Complaints and Claims Procedure


This procedure covers complaints, representations, claims and potential claims received in respect of services to children.

Those wishing to make complaints in relation to a Looked After Child can, at any time, refer their complaints to OFSTED should they wish.


This chapter was significantly amended in September 2018 following publication of a new Children’s Services Complaints Policy, and new Southwark Website Content.


  1. Summary for Professionals
  2. Involving Children/Young People in the Complaints Procedure
  3. Other Considerations

1. Summary for Professionals

There are two policies which may apply to complaints which relate to the work done within Southwark Children’s Services. The Children’s Services Complaints Policy and the Southwark (Corporate) Complaints Policy.

The Children’s Services policy shall apply when a complaint relates to activities associated with our work which falls under the Children Act. The Corporate policy shall apply to Education and to activities which are not connected with our obligations to the Children Act. Typically when a child or young person is not directly affected, or when the complaint is a financial matter, the corporate policy shall apply.

The council has a three stage complaint procedure described by the Children’s Services policy and that procedure is a matter of law. See Children’s Complaint Services (note this also contains guidance).

The corporate procedure can also be found in section 5, of the link (above). Our work is overseen by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman who will ensure we have acted in compliance with the relevant procedure.

The Council is obliged to respond to ‘any statement of dissatisfaction which requires a response’ as though it were a formal complaint unless the complainant agrees otherwise. A new complaint should be sent to the Social Care Complaint Team who will guide you and the complainant through the council’s formal procedure.

However, with the complainants agreement, we can deal with their issues outside the formal process. We call this a ‘representation’. If you are made aware of an issue you may seek to resolve the matter without the need for a formal investigation. You can do that within your team. If the person remains dissatisfied they must be directed to the Social Care Complaints Team, who will escalate to a formal complaint.

The Social Care Complaints Team can be contacted as follows:

Tel: 0207 525 3977

The complainant may always email or phone the Social Care Complaints Team to make their complaint. They may also make a complaint via the website, at the link given above.

2. Involving Children/Young People in the Complaints Procedure

Unless there is a clear reason otherwise, children should be informed about, and be invited to contribute to complaints which affect them. The Social Care Complaints Team can provide an age-appropriate leaflet for young people to make a complaint. Those working with children and young people may request copies of those leaflets from the team. The leaflets are in each of the public facing reception areas at Southwark buildings who deal with Children’s Services.

The team shall also arrange for an Advocate, if the child / young person wishes to bring their own complaint. The Southwark Children’s Right’s Officer shall also be pleased to discuss other support if a child / young person is Looked-After; is a Care-Leaver; or is subject to a Child Protection Plan. Such support may include signposting to Speakerbox.

For procedures relating to advocacy services for Looked After Children see Advocacy and Independent Visitors Procedure. You can also find information via the Southwark website link, above.

If the complaint relates to a child in foster care or residential care, it may also be directed to the Regulatory Authority.

3. Other Considerations

Where a complaint includes an allegation of Significant Harm, the matter must be dealt with under the London Child Protection Procedures and must be referred to the relevant team this purpose immediately.

A complaint may not be investigated if:

  • It is not brought by a person with sufficient interest and/or consent;
  • It relates to the actions of another organisation, most commonly a school or the NHS;
  • There are related ongoing court or tribunal proceedings;
  • There is an ongoing police investigation or criminal proceedings;
  • There are ongoing child protections proceedings.

If compensation or legal action is discussed, the complaint should be dealt with formally by contacting the Social Care Complaints Team.

Where a claim or potential claim is not linked to a complaint, the team should liaise as necessary with their management and with Southwark’s Legal Services.