If you have made a complaint, and it has gone to the final stage but you are still not happy, you may be able to complain to an Ombudsman.

  • An Ombudsman investigates complaints about organisations.
  • You don’t have to pay to take a complaint to an Ombudsman.
  • An Ombudsman must act fairly.
Different types of Ombudsmen

There are many different Ombudsmen. We give information below about the ones we think children and young people will find the most interesting, and helpful.

The word ‘Ombudsman’ comes from Sweden. The Swedish meaning is ‘representative’ – a person who stands up for others.

Many countries – like Sweden, Ireland and Poland – have Children’s Ombudspeople to stand up for the rights of children and young people. They often investigate complaints from children and young people.

We don’t have a dedicated Children’s Ombudsman in England, but all of the different Ombudspeople covering different areas of complaints work for children and young people too. Plus you have a dedicated Children’s Commissioner who is required by law to promote and protect the rights of children in England.

Information Commissioner’s Office
  • You can ask to see information written about you by an organisation – your school, your local council, GP or the police, for example. This is called ‘personal data’.
  • You can also ask for information that a public body holds. This information doesn’t have to be about you personally, or connected to you at all. This is called making a ‘freedom of information’ request.
  • If you are refused information, the Information Commissioner’s Office may be able to investigate.
  • If information about you is wrongly given to someone else, or you want the information changed or deleted, the Information Commissioner’s Office may be able to investigate.
Examples of complaints to the Information Commissioner's Office
Keeping private information safe

Two children were being adopted by their step-parent.

As part of this, reports were written for the family court by a social worker.

A solicitor’s firm gave the reports to the children’s father by mistake. The information passed to the father included photographs of the children. The father was in prison for very serious crimes. The father had the documents for just over 7 weeks, before they were taken from him. This made the mistake even worse.

The Information Commissioner’s Office said this was a very serious error. The solicitor’s firm had to make lots of improvements to make sure mistakes like this never happen again.

Records government holds must be protected

The Department for Education is the part of government in charge of national rules relating to schools, colleges and universities, and also child protection and the care system.

It allowed an organisation outside government to use its ‘Learning Records Service’ database. This contains around 28 million records, including about school students aged 14 and over.

The Department for Education was ordered to make big improvements to ensure that the information it holds is stored securely and properly protected.

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