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London Borough of Barking & Dagenham (17 019 338)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 25 Apr 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint about the evidence given by a social worker in court. This is because issues to do with court proceedings are out of the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. His other complaint, regarding the conduct of a social worker in a Child Protection Conference, is made late and there is no good reason to consider it now.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I refer to here as Mr B, says that bias and dishonesty by a social worker in a child protection conference, and by another social worker in court, caused the family court to rule that he cannot have contact with his children.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
  2. 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)
  3. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information provided by Mr B and I sent him an initial view for his comments.

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What I found

  1. Mr B is currently not allowed to have contact with his children, by an order of the court.
  2. He has complained that the court was influenced by bias and untruths from a social worker giving evidence. He also complains that reports by the social worker were biased and dishonest. He is going back to court to challenge the order.
  3. We cannot consider this matter, as the Ombudsman may not consider any matter that has been or will be considered in court. This includes reports produced for and considered in court.
  4. Mr B has also complained that the biased actions of another social worker at a Child Protection Conference for his children influenced the outcome negatively for him. However the conference took place several years ago, and the social worker is no longer employed by the Council. There are therefore no good reasons to exercise the Ombudsman’s discretion to investigate the issue, which has been made late, more than 12 months after the complainant became aware of the issue.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint. This is because the main part of it is being considered in court and the additional part is made late.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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