Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 20 Mar 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman should not investigate Ms J’s complaint about lack of support from children’s services before the birth of her child. The events she complains of happened too long ago, and it would have been reasonable for Ms J to raise these issues in court.
- Ms J complains the Council failed to provide her with proper support to enable her to escape domestic violence before the birth of her child.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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)
- We have the power to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we think the issues could reasonably be, or have been, raised within a court of law. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered the information Ms J provided with her complaint, and discussed the complaint with her. I have also read the reports written for the court proceedings about Ms J’s child.
What I found
- Ms J gave birth in 2016 and her child was taken into care shortly afterwards. Ms J says that while she was pregnant, the Council missed opportunities to help her escape a violent relationship.
- Ms J has not provided a reason why she has not complained about this sooner. So this is not a matter we will consider now, nearly two years later.
- And it would also have been reasonable for Ms J to raise this issue during the court proceedings about her child’s future. Social workers submitted reports to court which showed Ms J did not engage with the help they had offered. If Ms J disputed this account, or felt the help was not the right sort, she could have brought this to the court’s attention.
- So even if Ms J has a good reason why she did not complain sooner, we will not investigate her complaint, because she could have raised the issues in court.
- The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because the events Ms J complains of happened too long ago, and it would have been reasonable for her to raise these issues in court.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman