Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 21 Dec 2017
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We cannot investigate Mrs G’s complaint about children services actions. As the grandparent she is not a suitable person to complain. In addition, the events are more than 12 months old and a Court made the crucial decisions.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Mrs G, says the Council failed to do enough to enable her grandchild to live with its biological parents.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We 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, as amended)
- We may investigate complaints made on behalf of someone else if they have given their consent. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26A(1), as amended)
- We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word fault to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
- We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information Mrs G gave with her complaint. Mrs G had an opportunity to comment on a draft version of this decision.
What I found
- Mrs G says her paternal grandchild, D, left its biological parents’ care in October 2013. Mrs G says D was taken into Council care without the parents’ agreement. She says in 2014 a Court ordered D should be cared for by the Council and issued an order agreeing to an adoption.
- Mrs G says the Council should have done more to help the family stay together.
- Mrs G is not the person primarily affected by the events. We would normally accept a complaint about the events she describes only from the parents. Mrs G has not said she is complaining on her son’s behalf nor has she provided consent from him for her to do so. Nor has she explained why she is the most suitable person to complain.
- The events complained of are more than 12 months old. Mrs G has provided no reasons why she could not have complained sooner nor why her complaint should be an exception to the late complaint rule.
- A court decided D’s care arrangements. We cannot investigate that decision nor the information the Council gave the Court. We cannot change that decision.
- We will not investigate Mrs G’s complaint as she is not a suitable person to complain about the Council’s actions which are now too old.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman