Updated: Feb 6, 2022
Hertfordshire County Council has agreed to paying £1,500 to the parent of a child who was assaulted by another child in a taxi which was used to transport children with disabilities to and from school.
The taxi was provided through the Council's 'Home to School' transport service. The assault took place on route to school, back in 2019, with two other children with disabilities.
Details of the incident have been made available for viewing by way of an Ombudsman's report.
Following the incident, the child’s mother complained to Hertfordshire County Council and the Social Care Ombudsman claiming that the assault took place due to failings by the Council to properly safeguard her child.
The child was left with physical injuries, including a broken tooth, but Council officials initially suggested that it did not believe it could be established ‘with absolute certainty’ that the injuries had occurred on the taxi journey.
Following an investigation by the Ombudsman, it was ruled that it was more likely than not that the injuries did occur on the way to school in the taxi.
The conclusion of the report was that the Council did put the child at risk of harm on home to school transport.
The final decision resulted in the Council agreeing to pay the child’s mother £1,500 in compensation.
According to the report, the child’s mother had told the Ombudsman that on the day of the complaint referred to, the personal assistant had reported to her that her child and another child had been ‘proper going for it’.
She had said that on the same day the school had notified her that the child had injuries – including a broken front tooth.
She said she had been told that the school’s site manager had witnessed an ‘altercation’ between the two children in the taxi that morning – and that the school believed the injuries had occurred during this altercation.
When the child’s mum complained to the County Council, she was told that as the personal assistant was not sitting in the back of the taxi, the altercation had not been witnessed.
The report continued, stating that the Council said they did “not believe it can be established with absolute certainty that these injuries occurred during the taxi journey on the morning”.
However the report claims that the taxi company had failed in its contractual obligation – which requires a personal assistant to sit in the back and any incidents or accidents during the journey to be reported.
Following the investigation, the Ombudsman found that the failure of the personal assistant to sit in the back of the taxi was ‘fault’.
Had the personal assistant been sat in the back, as required, the report says this could have been prevented.