Staffordshire County Council (18 003 888)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 20 Sep 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate Ms J’s complaint about her children being taken into care, because it is about what happened in court.

The complaint

  1. Ms J complains that the Council have taken her children into care. She says this has happened because of failings by the Council going back several years.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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)
  2. 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)
  3. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered the information Ms J provided with her complaint and her responses to our draft decision.

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What I found

  1. The Council has taken Ms J’s children into care and obtained a care order from the courts to do this. So, Ms J’s complaint is about this court action and we cannot investigate it. The events which led to this are matters which are relevant to the court’s decision.
  2. If Ms J is unhappy with the court’s decisions or the arrangements for the children’s care, her recourse is to ask the court to make different arrangements. It would be reasonable for Ms J to raise these issues in court, so we will not investigate them.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint because it is about matters decided in court.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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