Nottinghamshire County Council (15 017 308)

Category : Children's care services > Adoption

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 07 Mar 2016

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Miss A’s complaint about the actions of a social worker because she cannot achieve anything significant by doing so.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will refer to as Miss A, complains about the actions of a social worker in the course of child protection action.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Ombudsman investigates complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word fault to refer to these. She must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. She provides a free service, but must use public money carefully. She may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if she believes she cannot achieve the outcome someone wants. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))
  2. 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))

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered what Miss A has said in support of her complaint and relevant correspondence provided by the Council.

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What I found

  1. Miss A’s children are looked after by the Council and are the subject of legal proceedings. The Council initially placed them with family members but has now placed them in foster care. The court will decide whether they will be adopted, returned to Miss A, or made the subject of Special Guardianship Orders.
  2. Miss A complains about the actions of a social worker in the course of the child protection process and legal action. She wants an apology from the social worker and for her children to be returned to her. The Council has denied that its social worker has been at fault.
  3.  
  4. The Ombudsman will not investigate Miss A’s complaint. She could achieve nothing significant for Miss A by doing so. Whether the children are returned to her is a decision for the court and the Ombudsman cannot intervene. It is open to her to raise her criticisms of the Council’s actions with the court.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate Miss A’s complaint because she cannot achieve anything significant by doing so.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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