Essex County Council (14 016 341)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 31 Mar 2015

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: the Council has agreed to look again at Mr B’s complaint. I have discontinued my investigation so the Council can respond to the complaint.

The complaint

  1. Mr B complains the Council has not answered his questions about the role Children’s Service played in his daughter’s move to stay with her mother in October 2013.

Back to top

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 may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if she believes it would be reasonable for the Council to respond to a complaint first. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))

Back to top

How I considered this complaint

  1. I have:
    • considered information provided by Mr B and discussed his complaint with him;
    • asked the Council to re-consider its decision not to investigate Mr B’s complaint further and discussed the matter with a Council Officer.

Back to top

What I found

  1. Mr B has a daughter, C, who lives with him. Mr B has separated from C’s mother.
  2. In October 2013, Children’s Services became involved and C went to stay with her mother. Mr B was unhappy with the arrangements because C’s mother had not been involved in her care since 2005. Mr B says the Council was aware that C’s mother had been prosecuted for child neglect. He was distressed because he did not know where his daughter was staying. C returned to live with Mr B two months later.
  3. Mr B complained to the Council in September 2014. He asked for an explanation of why the Council took his daughter away. He said she had been traumatised by the experience and he was finding her behaviour difficult to cope with.
  4. The Council says it wrote to Mr B on 11 December 2014. The Council said it needed his daughter’s consent to investigate his complaint further.
  5. Mr B returned the consent form signed by his daughter but said he was reluctant to involve her in his complaint because he did not want to cause her further distress. The Council decided that it would not investigate Mr B’s complaint further so as not to risk causing Mr B’s daughter distress and directed him to the Ombudsman.


  1. I have discussed Mr B’s complaint with the Council. The Council has reviewed its handling of Mr B’s complaint and accepts it could have done things better. It has agreed to look again at Mr B’s complaint.

Back to top

Agreed action

  1. The Council will reconsider Mr B’s complaint.

Back to top

Final decision

  1. I have discontinued my investigation because the Council has agreed to look again at Mr B’s complaint. If Mr B remains dissatisfied once the Council has considered his complaint, he can refer the matter back to the Ombudsman.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

Back to top

Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

Print this page