Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 10 Feb 2016
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate Mr F’s complaint about the Council’s actions during Court proceedings. She will not consider its actions before those proceedings because it is reasonable to expect him to have told the Court.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Mr F, says the Council’s children social services team has taken his children into care and is seeking an adoption order. He disagrees with this action. He says the Council failed to properly include him before it issued proceedings.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Ombudsman cannot investigate a complaint about the start of court action or what happened in court. (Local Government Act 1974, Schedule 5/5A, paragraph 1/3)
- The Ombudsman has the power to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within her jurisdiction. She may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if she thinks the issues could reasonably be, or have been, raised within a court of law. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8))
- The Ombudsman investigates complaints about councils and certain other bodies. She cannot investigate the actions of bodies such as the Courts. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 25 and 34(1))
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information Mr F provided with his complaint and the Council’s replies to his complaint which it provided. He has commented on a draft version of this decision.
What I found
- Mr F has four children. He says that in 2012 the Council applied to Court for a Care Order. The Court granted Care and Placement Orders in May 2013 and the children now live in foster care. The Court is currently considering an Adoption Order application.
- Mr F says the Council failed to properly contact him and involve him before the children were removed from the family’s care and at the start of Court proceedings. He disagrees with the Council’s involvement in the Court proceedings.
- Mr F complained to the Council. It told him it would not investigate his complaints because he had had a chance in Court to explain his views and the Court had made the final decision. Because of the amount of contact he has made with the Council’s complaints team it has considered him persistent and vexatious and limited his contact. The Council says Mr F has issued private civil proceedings against the social worker involved.
- The Ombudsman has no power to investigate the Court’s decision. It decided Mr F should not care for the children and the level of his involvement with them.
- It is reasonable to expect Mr F to have told the Court about his allegations of lack of contact with him. It is reasonable to expect Mr F to have challenged the information the Council gave to the Court within those proceedings.
- The Ombudsman cannot investigate the social worker’s actions which Mr F complains about because the Court is currently considering this.
- It is unlikely the Ombudsman would find fault with the way the Council has responded to Mr F’s complaints.
- The Ombudsman cannot investigate the Court’s decisions or proceedings, and will not investigate his other complaints because it is reasonable to expect him to have told the Court.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman