Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 30 Sep 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mrs A’s complaint about the conduct of social workers because an investigation would not achieve the outcome Mrs A wants.
- The complainant, who I will refer to as Mrs A, complains about the conduct of social workers.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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)
- The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone could take the matter to court. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to go to court. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c), as amended)
- 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)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered what Mrs A has said in support of her complaint and in response to my draft decision.
What I found
- Mrs A says the Council removed her grandchildren from her care. The court has now given the Council the authority to place the children for adoption. Mrs A complains about the conduct of the social workers involved. She wants the Council to consider her as carer for the children before placing them for adoption.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate Mrs A’s complaint because he cannot achieve what Mrs A wants. The decisions to remove the children and to place them for adoption were for the court to make. If Mrs A wants the court to make a different decision, she must apply to the court and ask it to do so. The Ombudsman cannot investigate a decision of the court.
- As the Ombudsman cannot investigate the decisions about which Ms A is aggrieved, and cannot achieve that she wants, there is nothing to be gained from investigating the actions of social workers. We will not investigate Mrs A’s complaint.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman