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Watchdog raps council over handling of dad’s complaint of ‘sexism’ against male domestic abuse victims

PUBLISHED: 07:33 06 March 2019 | UPDATED: 07:33 06 March 2019

The Local Government and Social Care Omudsman upheld a complaint against Norfolk County Council's handling of complaint. Pic: Neil Perry.

The Local Government and Social Care Omudsman upheld a complaint against Norfolk County Council's handling of complaint. Pic: Neil Perry.

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A watchdog has rapped Norfolk County Council after it failed to properly investigate a complaint made by a father who claimed its children’s services department was “institutionally sexist” when dealing with male victims of domestic abuse.

County Hall “strongly refuted” the accusation and said, when it did carry out an investigation ordered by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, it found no evidence of institutional sexism.

The ombudsman became involved after a man, known as Mr J, complained to the council about details in his son’s social work report.

Mr J had asked the council to remove what he said was inaccurate and to consider more of the information he gave the social worker so the report was “less one-sided in favour of his son’s mother”.

The council replied to his complaint twice, before referring him to the ombudsman to take the matter further.

Mr J did make a complaint to the ombudsman, in which he said he felt the council was “institutionally sexist when it deals with domestic abuse cases and does not take concerns from male victims of domestic abuse as seriously as those from female victims.”

The ombudsman investigated the way the council dealt with the father’s complaint, although it did not investigate the allegations of institutional sexism.

That was because the ombudsman had found the council should have started a second stage investigation into the complaint - which would investigate the man’s allegations - rather than telling Mr J he could go to the ombudsman.

The council has now carried out that second stage investigation into the man’s complaint, as ordered by the ombudsman, and said no evidence of institutional sexism was found.

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: “The ombudsman recommended the council start a second stage investigation under the statutory complaints procedure. As noted by the ombudsman, the council agreed to start this without delay.

“The investigation has now been completed and found no evidence of institutional sexism, and we strongly refute any such accusations.”

They said the second stage investigation had been overseen by an independent person.

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