A grieving family was let down by Dorset, Devon & Cornwall Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) due to a number of failings after the tragic murder of their son and brother Adrian Munday, an investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has found.
Adrian Munday, a vulnerable adult, was murdered in October 2015 by a person on probation and under the supervision of the CRC. The CRC was operated by the private provider Working Links at the time.
The mother, Michal Taylor from Newton Abbot, and her daughter, Sarah Compton, brought a complaint to the Ombudsman in February 2018 about delays to their Victim Summary Report (VSR), and the service provided to them by the CRC following this traumatic event.
The Ombudsman’s investigation found that the CRC did not prepare the VSR at the correct time as set out in the Ministry of Justice’s guidelines, did not make the VSR available on request, caused unnecessary delays by presenting a draft copy to the family, made errors in dating the report and communicated poorly by not replying to emails in a reasonable time. This was further compounded by failings in the handling of the complaint. The CRC misunderstood the next stage of the complaint process and incorrectly directed the family to the Prison and Probation Ombudsman (PPO).
Rob Behrens, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, said:
‘We know that victims across the country are being let down by a lack of information about what they are entitled to under the Victim’s Code.
‘Probation staff do a difficult job with increasingly stretched resources but as this case shows, when agencies fail to provide basic services, it causes additional distress to the victim’s family at an already difficult time.
‘It is vital that complaints are taken seriously so that lessons are learned and the same mistakes don’t happen to someone else.’
Ms Compton said:
‘Devon, Dorset and Cornwall CRC failed our family. The many issues around the delivery of the report prolonged our grieving process and added further stress and distress.
'To have our complaint upheld by the Ombudsman has been very positive as DDC CRC have now been held to account.
'Probation Services' handling of Victim Summary Reports has a huge emotional impact on victims and their families.
'We hope that they are able to learn valuable lessons from the Ombudsman's judgement in this case, so no one else has to go through the ordeal that we have.’
The CRC is required to write a Victim Summary Report based on a Serious Further Offence (SFO) review. The SFO for this was completed in January 2016. Despite this, the CRC did not provide the VSR to the family until over a year later, in June 2017, and only after Ms Compton requested one after being prompted by a third party. The Ombudsman found that the CRC failed to provide a reasonable response as to why this happened.
After receiving the report, Ms Compton raised concerns about it with the CRC in July 2017. However she did not receive a response to nine out of ten of the issues she raised until November 2017. Furthermore, the hard copy she received in November 2017 was incorrectly dated as March 2017.
The CRC had apologised verbally for the delays and incorrect signposting. It took steps to reduce the risk of the failings being repeated.
However, the Ombudsman recommended that the CRC needed to do more to right these wrongs. The CRC should apologise in writing, acknowledging the impact the failings had on the family. The Ombudsman also said they should provide an updated version of the VSR and take actions to address the failings we identified.
Notes to Editors:
- The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) provides an independent and impartial complaint handling service for complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS in England and UK government departments. We look into complaints where someone believes there has been injustice or hardship because an organisation has not acted properly or has given a poor service and not put things right. We share findings from our casework to help Parliament scrutinise public service providers and to help drive improvements in public services and complaint handling.
- Part of the new corporate strategy for 2018-21 is to increase transparency and the impact of our casework. This case summary forms part of an interim measure to move towards publishing the majority of our casework on our website over the next three years. Sharing insight and learning from our casework will help to improve public services.
- When someone on probation commits a serious further offence, such as murder, the probation provider supervising that person must carry out a Serious Further Offence (SFO) review. The review looks at whether or not the probation provider gave adequate supervision. They should complete a Victim Summary Report (VSR), based on the SFO, for the victim at the same time.
- The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman provides a complaint handling service for prisoners and those under probation. The PHSO provides a complaint handling service for victims of crime.
- The Dorset, Devon & Cornwall Community Rehabilitation Company service is now operated by a new provider, Seetec. Working Links went into administration in February 2019.