How To Claim Compensation Against Social Services For Sexual Abuse?
By Danielle Jordan. Last Updated 6th September 2023. In this guide we focus on making claims against social services when they have caused you harm through negligent behaviour. Please read on to find out about the process of suing social services. We’ll also look at potential compensation amounts for cases won against social services.
In the United Kingdom, Social Services for children work with a number of different agencies in order to provide support for children who are placed up for adoption within families, children who may need looking after for any reason, those who might be suffering abuse, neglect or be in need of protection, as well as families where children are assessed as being in need.
When a referral is made to Social Services, they are obligated to investigate the situation to ensure that the children involved are safe and not in harm’s way. Harm is described as the ill-treatment or the impairment of development or health including, for instance, impairment suffered from hearing or seeing another person being ill-treated. Ill-treatment includes sexual abuse as well as other forms of ill-treatment, which are not always physical. Health means both mental and physical health. And, development means behavioural, social, emotional, intellectual and physical development.
There have unfortunately been some examples of social services failures over the years and some of these have led to compensation cases won against social services. Some examples of their negligence have received extensive coverage from mainstream news sources. One of the most famous cases in the UK was the death of “Baby P” in 2007. Baby P, whose real name was Peter Connelly, died of homicide at the age of 17 months old in the property he shared with his mother and her boyfriend.
The baby experienced 50 different injuries, including a broken back, which was allegedly missed by his doctor. This resulted in five people being sacked at Haringey Council Children’s Services, including the head of the department. A number of damning enquiries revealed that 60 opportunities were missed to save baby P.
Other famous cases that resulted in children dying due to Social Services being inadequate in their investigations include the death of two-year-old Demi Leigh Mahon in Manchester, nine-year old David Stocker from Romford who died of a salt overdose fed by his mother, and eight-year-old Victoria Climbie who was starved to death after prolonged abuse at the hands of her guardians in London.
While there are lots of amazing social work that is being carried out across the country, there is no denying that there has also been a number of significant failings. However, the problem is that a lot of people think that Social Services are above the law and there is nothing they can do if they’ve been the victim of negligent conduct.
This could not be further from the truth. If you have been the victim of negligent social services, then you have an extremely high chance of being eligible for child abuse compensation and it is important that you get the payout you deserve. Read on to discover everything you need to know about suing social services.
In the meantime, you can get in touch with us with any issues you may have regarding your claim.
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Select a section
- A complete guide to claiming against social services
- Who are social services?
- What social services can do
- What social services can’t do
- Social services statistics
- What To Do If Social Services Are Wrong?
- How Are Cases Won Against Social Services?
- I was abused in a care home – can I claim against social services?
- I was abused in foster care – would social services pay compensation?
- How Is Compensation Calculated When You Sue Social Services?
- Social services claims – Shirley Oaks
- Historical abuse claims against social services – how do they work?
- Find Social Services Solicitors – Contact Legal Expert Specialist Solicitors
- Why choose Legal Expert for claims against social services?
Welcome to our guide on how to make claims against social services. We’ll explore what can social services do and not do, as well as other topics.
Being the victim of any type of abuse can be exceptionally traumatic and the matter can be unfortunately made worse if you are then failed by Social Services. So, you may be wondering; can I take legal action against social services?
The answer is yes, you can take legal action against if this has happened to you or someone that you love. You could be able to make a claim irrespective of whether the abuse or negligence that you have suffered happened recently or a long time ago when you were a child.
Similarly, you can also claim if you have been wrongly accused by Social Services. You may want to know about suing social services for harassment, for example. In this guide, you will find out all of the information you need about making such a claim, including parents’ rights against social services, how to launch a claim for social services compensation payouts, reasons for social services to remove a child, the process that is involved when launching claims against social services, and much more. You will also find out contact details at the end of the guide if you have any more questions or you are ready to make a claim.
Before we look at how to make claims against social services, let’s first learn a little more about this organisation.
In the UK, social services have a statutory obligation to promote the welfare and safeguard the wellbeing of children that are vulnerable. Social services can also provide a broad selection of services to children and their parents. A lot of families feel worried and anxious when social services get involved because of experiences they may have heard from other people because they are frightened that they will lose their children. There are a number of reasons social services would take a child, but this is certainly not always the outcome, as more often Social Services are there to help you.
There are a number of different reasons for social services to get involved with children/parent/ guardian relationships. This includes the following:
● Help families determine any issues that are impacting the children and to guide them to the correct support and services that are available in the community
● If there is concerns that a child has suffered an injury that was not an accident
● When a child has been taken into care after the police have intervened on an emergency basis or there has been a court order
● The parent has requested that the child is placed in residential care or foster care on a temporary basis as an emergency to assist them with challenging behaviour or to give them a planned break or a number of short breaks due to stress
● When there are concerns relating to alcohol and drugs
● If there has been child protection issued for the child, for example, including cases where adults have been engaged in violence and this could result in the child being harmed
● A GP or teacher has made a referral or request
● A family has requested that the Social Services provide family support services at times of stress
If your child is deemed in need of help or at risk, your local government Social Services department have a duty to explore the situation to determine what action should be taken to ensure the child is safe and well. You should work alongside the Social Services as best as you can. While you may feel anxious and worried if you are contacted by Social Services, the best thing to do is not panic. Unless there are reasons otherwise, the Social Services will always write to you and let you know that an initial assessment is being conducted. This will take place within a specific number of days and in most cases, this will result in them giving you support and any other services that you require.
Please read on for more information about suing social services.
We often get asked what social services can and can’t do. For example, you may have questions such as can social services stop contact without a court order?
In short, Social Services can provide support for families. There are different departments to support varying needs. For example, there are social care services for addiction, mental illness, abuse and much more.
Social Services are also well within their right to carry out a child protection investigation if they feel that this is necessary. This is known as a Section 47 enquiry. This means that they will conduct a complete investigation to make sure that the child is receiving the correct level of care and that he or she is not being abused or neglected. In order to carry out this investigation, they will conduct a number of interviews with you, and they are allowed to contact other professionals, including your child’s GP and school.
Can Social Services take my child away? What are my rights against social services? These are two questions we’ll aim to answer in this section.
A lot of people worry that social services are going to take away their children. While they are allowed to do this, they can technically only legally do so if they have reason to believe the child is at harm. If your child has been taken away, you can receive legal advice on how to win your child back from Social Services.
According to government statistics regarding children being looked after in England (including adoption), the figure has taken a 2% increase between March 31st 2019, and the same date in 2020. Whilst this may not seem like much, the increase in percentage amounts to almost 2,000 additional children.
In the year ending March 31st 2019, the number of children who were currently adopted totalled 3,590. This decreased by 4% the following year. This 4% amounted to almost 150 fewer children.
Whilst this fluctuation in figures does not show us how many claims were made against social services, it does give us an idea as to how many children are currently in social care and similar situations.
If social services are wrong, it could potentially result in a variety of issues. For example, if a parent loses access to their child, they may suffer a significant psychological injury, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additionally, social services may not pick up on clear signs of abuse. Subsequently, a child could suffer a wrongful death.
Therefore, you might wonder, ‘can I take social services to court?’. You may be entitled to claim for child abuse or for the pain and suffering caused by the negligent actions of social services. However, most claims will not go to court.
Our advisors are on hand 24/7 to provide free legal about against social services. Following an initial consultation, you may be connected to our legal team. Our solicitors could help you claim against social services.
Some of the most common reasons for making claims against social services social workers are as follows:
- Abuse by foster carers
- Removal of children without legal permission
- Negligence of social services
- Abuse while in care
- Abuse claims against a social worker
If you have experienced any of these situations or you want to make a claim against social services for any other reason, please get in touch.
The simple answer to this question is; yes. There have been a number of cases of child abuse in care homes, and we will discuss one of the high-profile cases later in this guide so you can better understand the process of suing social services for care home negligence.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of abuse in a care home, this can be exceptionally traumatic to come to terms with. Our panel of expert solicitors who take on Social Services have worked on many cases like this before. If you have a valid claim, they will work as hard as they can to get you the compensation that you deserve.
For more information on how to make claims against social services call our team.
Yes, if you have been abused at the hands of your foster parents, you could be entitled to compensation. You may also be entitled to a payout if Social Services failed to recognise the signs of abuse. The Human Rights Act 1998 was put in place to ensure that everyone was treated equally. This includes children in care. So, even social services must abide by these rules. Suing social services could be the very step you need to take if you feel a child’s human rights have been violated or ignored.
Foster parents are in the ultimate position of trust, and when they abuse this, it is vital that they are brought to justice. We have helped many children who have been abused to launch claims against their foster parents, so they can try to move on with their lives. Call us today for more information on child abuse social services claims and how to fight social services and win.
What Evidence Is Needed In A Claim Against Social Services
This guide has answered questions such as “what are my rights against social services?” by highlighting what social workers can and can’t do. If you do want to claim against the social services, it’s important that you have evidence showing how their negligent actions have caused you or your children harm.
Given the type of damages you’re wanting to claim for, potential evidence could include:
- Photographic evidence of any injuries.
- Video evidence of abuse. This could include, for instance, CCTV footage if any is available.
- Correspondence with the Social Services.
- Notes from you detailing the series of events.
- Witness statements. If, for instance, you or your child has suffered some form of abuse, statements from witnesses can clarify what occurred.
- Police reports. If some of this abuse has been reported to the police, these reports can help clarify what was reported and when. They could also show what, if anything, has been done since.
To learn more about the claims process or to see if you can claim, please contact us at a time that suits you. Our solicitors know how a claim against social services in court could progress and can help you build a case.
If your sexual abuse claim against social services is successful you could receive up to two heads of loss: general damages and special damages.
If you successfully sue social services, your settlement could consist of two heads of claim: general and special damages.
General damages compensate for the physical pain and mental suffering caused by the sexual abuse. When assigning value to personal injury claims, legal professionals may refer to the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). This document lists guideline compensation brackets for different types of injuries and harm.
In our table below, we look at a few figures found in the 16th edition of the JCG. As every claim is different, it is only provided as guidance.
|Injury Type||Severity||Notes||Compensation Bracket|
|Sexual/Physical Abuse||Severe (a)||In this bracket, the claimant has been subjected to serious abuse along with a prolonged psychiatric injury.||£45,000 to £120,000|
|Sexual/Physical Abuse||Moderate (b)||In this bracket, the claimant suffered less serious and prolonged abuse than in a more severe case. The psychological reaction is also less severe.||£20,570 to £45,000|
|Sexual/Physical Abuse||Less Severe (c)||In this bracket, the claimant has experienced short-lived abuse causing mild psychological effects.||£9,730 to £20,570|
|General Psychiatric Damage||Severe (a)||In this bracket, the claimant experiences marked problems coping with life, work or education and with relationships. The prognosis is very poor.||£54,830 to £115,730|
|General Psychiatric Damage||Moderately Severe (b)||This level of psychiatric harm causes significant problems with lifestyle, work or education and relationships. However, the prognosis is more positive than in more severe cases.||£19,070 to £54,830|
|General Psychiatric Damage||Moderate (c)||In this bracket, the claimant has suffered problems with life, work or education and in relationships, but they have improved and the prognosis is good overall.||£5,860 to £19,070|
|Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)||Severe (a)||The claimant suffers symptoms that are permanent and prevent them from functioning at the same level as before the trauma, impacting all areas of their life.||£59,860 to £100,670|
|Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)||Moderately Severe (b)||The claimant has a better prognosis than in more severe cases, but the symptoms are likely to cause significant disability lasting into the foreseeable future.||£23,150 to £59,860|
|Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)||Moderate (c)||The claimant may experience some symptoms that are not grossly disabling.||£8,180 to £23,150|
|Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)||Less Severe (d)||The claimant recovers within two years, although some minor symptoms may persist.||£3,950 to £8,180|
Furthermore, when suing social services, you could receive compensation for the financial losses caused by the abuse you suffered. This can be awarded as part of your settlement under special damages. Some of the losses you might be able to recover as part of your claim include:
- Therapy expenses.
- Prescription costs.
- A loss of earnings.
You should submit proof of your costs, such as invoices and payslips.
Our advisors can help answer your question, ‘Can you sue social services for sexual abuse?’. In addition to a free case assessment, they can value your claim.
Criminal Injury Claims
You may make your claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) instead. The CICA award compensation in certain criminal injury claims. This is different to a traditional personal injury claim. Compensation tariffs for a claim through the CICA can be found in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012. The tariffs are different than the figures found in the JCG. Additionally, the CICA have specific claiming criteria that needs to be met.
When compensation is being calculated, there are often a few different figures to consider. The one universal to most claims is known as general damages. This is the sum that is awarded to you due to both the physical pain and the mental suffering caused by the injuries associated with the accident or incident.
At this point in our guide to making claims against social services, we’re going to look at a horrific high-profile case study that could help illustrate why these types of claims may be made.
There have been a number of high-profile child abuse claims in the news, many of which involve instances where Social Services have failed. Shirley Oaks is undoubtedly one of the most prolific cases and ex-residents were granted compensation amounts of around £10,000 each as a small gesture for the suffering that they were so heinously subjected to.
Shirley Oaks is an ex-network of children’s homes in South London. A report was conducted covering a period from the 1950s until 1983 when the homes were closed. It concluded that there were at least 60 active abusers working within the network, carrying out what has been described as ‘industrial scale’ abuse.
Not only did this cause irreparable damage to the countless victims within the care system but there were also numerous deaths that have now been linked to Shirley Oaks. These were apparent ‘suicides’ that are now known to have been conducted by the perpetrators in attempts to cover up their sickening abuse from getting out.
It remains one of the most horrific and shocking abuse cases in history. Since then, Lambeth Council has paid around £100 million to former residents, irrespective of whether or not they were abused, with those that suffered the abuse first-hand receiving bigger payouts for obvious reasons.
Unlike standard compensation claims, you do not only have three years to make a negligence claim against Social Services. You can make a claim for historical sexual abuse that happened many years ago, so please do not fear that you have left it too late to claim.
If you suffered abuse due to social services negligence and would like to make a claim, No Win No Fee solicitors that deal with social services could support you through the legal process. Their services could be provided under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA).
When suing social services, solicitors that offer a No Win No Fee arrangement typically won’t ask you to pay an upfront solicitor’s fee. If your claim is successful, a success fee will be taken from your award. The law limits this amount. Should your solicitor for your social services claim fail to secure compensation, you usually won’t be asked to pay for their legal services.
Our advisors can answer your questions about claiming against social services. Should your claim seem eligible you could be put in touch with our solicitors that deal with social services claims. To get in touch:
How to make claims against social services FAQs
Can I take legal action against social services?
Providing social services failed to uphold their legal duty of care, leading you or a loved one to suffer as a result. Please get in touch today to learn more about your rights.
What is classed as neglect by social services?
According to the NSPCC, neglect is an ongoing failure to meet a child’s most basic needs. Neglect is considered the most common form of child abuse, by which they may be left hungry, dirty or without necessary clothing, housing or supervision.
How long do I have to claim?
How much compensation am I entitled to?
Without learning more about your case, we can’t estimate how much you could claim. This is because claims vary from case to case, meaning the payouts they yield do too.
What damages could I claim?
As part of a typical personal injury claim, general damages could compensate for physical and mental trauma, whereas special damages could compensate for financial losses like loss of earnings or treatment fees.
Do I need to get a lawyer?
Though there isn’t any legal requirement to have a sexual abuse solicitor handle your case, having one could significantly increase your chances of securing the maximum sexual abuse compensation that you’re entitled to. Making legal proceedings against a large-scale organisation such as social services can be particularly challenging, so it’s important you’re prepared.
Where can I find a lawyer?
At Legal Expert, our panel of specialist solicitors have more than 30 years of experience. What’s more, they will always handle your case on a No Win No Fee basis, so there’s no need to look elsewhere for a better service.
How can I contact Legal Expert?
Please scroll up to our contact section for some options or use our live chat for an instant response.
Find out about the process of appointing another adult to pursue a claim on the behalf of someone else.
This link takes you to the UK Government website where you will find statistics regarding the number of children in the UK that are under local authority care.
You may also be interested in some of our other guides on criminal injury compensation claims:
- How to claim sexual abuse compensation
- FAQs on sexual abuse claims
- Sexual abuse during lockdown – can you claim?
- Sexual abuse compensation calculator
- How to find physical and sexual abuse solicitors
- A guide to sexual abuse claims
- How to claim against a paedophile
- How to claim if abused in foster care
- Historical sexual abuse claims
- Sexual abuse claims in Scotland
We also have some other guides on sexual abuse compensation claims that you may find useful:
- I was sexually abused by my father, can I claim?
- Sexual abuse by husband – can you claim?
- Sexual abuse by a grandfather – how to make a claim
- Sexual abuse by an ex-partner – how to make a claim
- How to claim if sexually abused by a family member
- How to claim if abused by a stepfather
- Learn how to claim if abused by a teacher
- How to claim for sexual abuse in a school
Cases mentioned earlier in this article
We hope our guide on how to make claims against social services has been useful to you. If you have any enquiries about matters related to this subject, such as hiring solicitors that can sue social services, then you can contact our team of advisors on the phone or online using the contact details found in this guide.