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West Berkshire Council (18 017 008)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 26 Mar 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr Y’s complaint about the Council’s handling of a child protection case involving his daughter. A court is dealing with an application by Mr Y and this will involve considering the welfare of the child.

The complaint

  1. Ms X complains for Mr Y that the Council removed his daughter from a child protection plan and is therefore failing to protect her. Mr Y says he is worried about his daughter and wants the Council to reinvestigate the case and his complaint. Mr Y says the Council should stop being biased against him, consider his evidence, and listen to those who know how the mother of the child behaves.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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)
  2. 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:
  • it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
  • it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

  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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered all the information and comments provided. I have spoken to Ms X by telephone. The information includes a copy of the child protection case conference which decided to end the child protection plan and the complaint correspondence.

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What I found

  1. In 2017 and 2018 the Council considered the welfare of Mr Y’s daughter via the child protection system following allegations of abuse. In April 2018, the Council decided to end the child protection plan. Mr Y’s daughter was treated as a child in need and the case was closed in July.
  2. In August 2018, the Council replied in detail to Mr Y’s complaints. A further reply was sent in January 2019 confirming the complaint was closed.
  3. Since the middle of 2018 a court is considering Mr Y’s application for a child arrangements order (contact). The mother of the child refuses Mr Y contact. Ms X tells me that the court has ordered reports from the Council and CAFCASS. She says the Council failed to disclose information and the court has required it to provide.

Analysis

  1. I will not investigate this complaint for the following reasons:
      1. There is no reason for the Ombudsman to investigate because a court is considering the welfare of Mr Y’s daughter. Mr Y will have the opportunity to make his views and evidence known to the court. He can also challenge the Council’s position in court.
      2. The Ombudsman cannot consider what happens in court (see paragraph 4). This includes the Council’s evidence, a report, and information supplied to the court.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr Y’s complaint about the Council’s handling of a child protection case involving his daughter. A court is dealing with an application by Mr Y and this will involve considering the welfare of the child.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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