Complaints, or concerns, about Look Ahead's operation of refuges in Kent.

The request was refused by Kent County Council.

Dear Kent County Council,

This request is appropriate to your team at Adult Care Team in Social Services.

It concerns the operation of refuges for women in a number of locations in Kent. These are run by a body called Look Ahead. For clarity it has a head office at King's Buildings, 16 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3HQ.

Has Kent County Council received any complaints about the treatment of women in any of these refuges in each of the last 5 years?

Is Kent Council Council aware that women are being abused, threatened, bullied and intimidated in these places?

Is Kent County Council aware of the conditions in which women live? For example they are in accommodation which is sparsely furnished and ill equipped. They are told to go out and buy anything they want, or need. This includes furniture and essential items.

Women receive no support and there is little communication with them either. The places are not staffed adequately (or at all) despite a charge of £345 a week.

Women who have disabilities, or health issues do not fare well. Someone battling cancer receives no assistance despite being unable to look after herself. They breach The Equality Act 2010 as women are not given consideration, allowances etc, for their disabilities.

Look Ahead put women at risk as the address of the places is used, whereas refuges usually have a PO Box number for women to use. There is a high risk of them being traced due to this.

Yours faithfully,

Caroline Airley

 

Information request
Our reference: 8178891

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Dear Ms Airley
 
Freedom of Information Act 2000
 
Thank you for your email which we received on 27 August 2019.
 
Kent County Council acknowledges your request for information under 
the Freedom of Information Act 2000.  Assuming KCC holds this information,
we will endeavour to supply the data to you as soon as possible but no
later than 24 September 2019 (20 working days from date of receipt).
 
We will advise you as soon as possible if we do not hold this information
or if there are exemptions to be considered and/or any costs for providing
the information.
 
Please quote our reference - 8178891 in any communication regarding this
particular request.
 

Please see our [1]Information Rights Privacy Notice for details of how we
process your personal data.

 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Kelly Leeson
Strategic and Corporate Services
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-counci...

Caroline Airley left an annotation ()

It is about time that Look ahead is investigated for the abysmal standards that operate in their properties that are described as refuges for women. The reality is that these are more in the nature of hostels for the homeless. There is no support given but an abundance of abuse, bullying, threats and intimidation. Look Ahead fail to protect women and their safety is at risk. There are repeated breaches of confidentiality, General Data Protection Regulations and The Equality Act 2010. The people who staff them are unfit to be anywhere near vulnerable people.

1 Attachment

 

Information request
Our reference: 8178891

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Dear Ms Airley
 
Thank you for your request for information received on 27 August 2019.
 
Please find attached our response to your request.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Carly Wattle
Information Access Officer
Strategic and Corporate Services
+443000417061

 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

Dear Kent County Council,

I have evidence available as to the horrific situation at the place run by Look Ahead in Tonbridge. you are welcome to contact me if you would like further information.

Yours sincerely,

Caroline Airley

 

Information request
Our reference: 8178891

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Ms Airley
 
Thank you for your request for a review received on 19 December 2019. I am
sorry that you are dissatisfied with our attempts to handle your request
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
 
I can confirm that we are considering your concerns and we will aim to
provide you with a response by 21 January 2020.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Caroline Dodge
Information Governance Manager
Strategic and Corporate Services
+443000416033
[email address]
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

 

Information request
Our reference: 8178891

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Ms Airley

Thank you for your email, dated 19 December 2019, requesting an internal
review of Kent County Council's handling of FOI request 8178891. A senior
officer in KCC's Strategic Commissioning Team who was not involved with
the original request has now completed the review and her response is as
follows:-.

Has Kent County Council received any complaints about the treatment of
women in any of these refuges in each of the last five years?

The FOI request (8178891) was made on 27 August 2019, the response,
provided on 24 September 2019 was 'No' to this question. This response is
correct as prior to 24 September KCC had not received any complaints of
this nature. Therefore we did not fail to provide information. 

For clarity, please confirm your investigation examined refuges in
Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge? These are all run by Look Ahead
in Kent

The investigation focussed on operations within Tonbridge refuge, however
all refuges operated by Look Ahead, that form part of the Kent Integrated
Domestic Abuse Service, namely Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge
have been examined, as part of regular quality assurance, by the
Commissioner.

Given your findings are inconsistent with known facts and evidence
available, it appears this so called investigation is typical of those
undertaken by councils and social services which fail to examine matters
appropriately, the result being a whitewash. It is known for a fact that
someone who did complain wasn't interviewed, or asked to provide evidence
of widespread abuse, threats, bullying and intimidation. There were also
the breaches of The Equality Act 2010, Article 14 Human Rights Act,
Article 8 Human Rights Act and GDPR. There is evidence for all of these,
so why wasn't it requested?

This element of your review request falls outside of KCC's FOI obligations
which are to confirm or deny if the information you asked for originally
is held or not and then provide it subject to any exemptions that may
apply. 

If you have concerns regarding the provision of service or a complaint
about a contractor providing a service, you should follow KCC's corporate
complaints process which can be found on our website at this link
[1]https://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-counci....
If you remain dissatisfied with the response to a complaint, you can
escalate your complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.
Please see the Ombudsman's website
[2]https://www.lgo.org.uk/make-a-complaint, or alternatively, you can
phone the LGO Advice Team on 0300 061 0614

This now concluded the internal review which is not upheld. If you remain
unhappy, you can appeal to the Information Commissioner, who oversees
compliance with access to information legislation including the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004, Data
Protection Act 2018 & General Data Protection Regulation. Details of what
you need to do, should you wish to,  pursue this course of action, are
available from the Information Commissioner's website
[3]https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/, or you can phone the ICO Helpline
on 0303 123 1113. 

Best regards

Caroline Dodge | Information Governance Manager | Information Resilience &
Transparency Team | Kent County Council | Room 2.87, Sessions House,
Maidstone, ME14 1XQ | Phone 03000 416033 | Fax 03000 420303 |  [4]Access
to Information | Please see our [5]Information Rights Privacy Notice for
details of how we process your personal data in line with our data
protection obligations |  

 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-counci...
2. https://www.lgo.org.uk/make-a-complaint
3. https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/
4. https://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-counci...
5. https://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-counci...

 

Information request
Our reference: 8178891

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Please see below the response which was sent to you on 21st January 2020.
 
Dear Ms Airley

Thank you for your email, dated 19 December 2019, requesting an internal
review of Kent County Council's handling of FOI request 8178891. A senior
officer in KCC's Strategic Commissioning Team who was not involved with
the original request has now completed the review and her response is as
follows:-.

Has Kent County Council received any complaints about the treatment of
women in any of these refuges in each of the last five years?

The FOI request (8178891) was made on 27 August 2019, the response,
provided on 24 September 2019 was 'No' to this question. This response is
correct as prior to 24 September KCC had not received any complaints of
this nature. Therefore we did not fail to provide information. 

For clarity, please confirm your investigation examined refuges in
Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge? These are all run by Look Ahead
in Kent

The investigation focussed on operations within Tonbridge refuge, however
all refuges operated by Look Ahead, that form part of the Kent Integrated
Domestic Abuse Service, namely Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge
have been examined, as part of regular quality assurance, by the
Commissioner.

Given your findings are inconsistent with known facts and evidence
available, it appears this so called investigation is typical of those
undertaken by councils and social services which fail to examine matters
appropriately, the result being a whitewash. It is known for a fact that
someone who did complain wasn't interviewed, or asked to provide evidence
of widespread abuse, threats, bullying and intimidation. There were also
the breaches of The Equality Act 2010, Article 14 Human Rights Act,
Article 8 Human Rights Act and GDPR. There is evidence for all of these,
so why wasn't it requested?

This element of your review request falls outside of KCC's FOI obligations
which are to confirm or deny if the information you asked for originally
is held or not and then provide it subject to any exemptions that may
apply. 

If you have concerns regarding the provision of service or a complaint
about a contractor providing a service, you should follow KCC's corporate
complaints process which can be found on our website at this link
[1]https://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-counci....
If you remain dissatisfied with the response to a complaint, you can
escalate your complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.
Please see the Ombudsman's website
[2]https://www.lgo.org.uk/make-a-complaint, or alternatively, you can
phone the LGO Advice Team on 0300 061 0614

This now concluded the internal review which is not upheld. If you remain
unhappy, you can appeal to the Information Commissioner, who oversees
compliance with access to information legislation including the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004, Data
Protection Act 2018 & General Data Protection Regulation. Details of what
you need to do, should you wish to,  pursue this course of action, are
available from the Information Commissioner's website
[3]https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/, or you can phone the ICO Helpline
on 0303 123 1113. 

Best regards

Caroline Dodge | Information Governance Manager | Information Resilience &
Transparency Team | Kent County Council | Room 2.87, Sessions House,
Maidstone, ME14 1XQ | Phone 03000 416033 | Fax 03000 420303 |  [4]Access
to Information | Please see our [5]Information Rights Privacy Notice for
details of how we process your personal data in line with our data
protection obligations |  

 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-counci...
2. https://www.lgo.org.uk/make-a-complaint
3. https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/
4. https://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-counci...
5. https://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-counci...

Dear Kent County Council,

I acknowledge receipt of your responses dated 20 January and 6 April 2020.

Given the failures to address the issues raised with Kent County Council, which amounts to a refusal to comply with the FOI Act, it can be concluded that the council colludes in the abuse and other serious misconduct that Look Ahead engages in the refuges it operates. The council is aware of a number of grave concerns but refuses to accept evidence, or act independently.

Yours sincerely,

Caroline Airley

Miss Millward left an annotation ()

Interesting this link relating to Look Ahead Refuge Abuse is also linked to this other link about the same abuse by the same member of staff (project manager Yvette Hazelden) at the same refuge by author Freesia Mason https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...