Decision : Not upheld
Decision date : 04 Jul 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Council is currently dealing with Ms X’s complaint at stage 2 of the statutory children’s complaints process. Therefore I have discontinued my investigation into this complaint.
- Ms X complains the Council refused to investigate her complaint about its decision to pursue child protection plan in relation to her son.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints of injustice caused by ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)
- We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)
- If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have spoken to Ms X and considered the Council’s response to her complaints.
- I have written to Ms X and the Council with my draft decision and given them an opportunity to comment.
What I found
- The law sets out a three stage procedure for councils to follow when looking at complaints about children’s social care services. At stage 2 of this procedure, the Council appoints an Independent Investigator and an Independent Person (who is responsible for overseeing the investigation). If a complainant is unhappy with the outcome of the stage 2 investigation, they can ask for a stage 3 review. If a council has investigated something under this procedure, the Ombudsman would not normally re-investigate it unless he considers the investigation was flawed. However, he may look at whether a council properly considered the findings and recommendations of the independent investigation.
- Ms X complained to the Council about its decision to pursue a child protection plan in relation to her son.
- The Council responded to her complaint at stage 1 of the statutory children’s complaints procedure. Ms X was unhappy with its response and asked to progress to stage 2. The Council asked Ms X to explain why she was unhappy with its response at stage 1.
- This resulted in a delay in the complaint progressing to stage 2. However, the Council has now progressed Ms X’s complaint to stage 2 of the statutory complaints process. The Council has confirmed it will include the delay in progressing her complaint as part of the stage 2 investigation.
- If Ms X is unhappy with the Council’s response at stage 2 she can ask for it to be considered by a panel at stage 3 of the complaints process. Ms X can then bring her complaint to the Ombudsman. For that reason I have decided to discontinue my investigation into this complaint.
I have discontinued my investigation into this complaint as the Council is currently investigating this matter under the statutory children’s complaints procedure.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman