St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council (18 019 952)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 14 May 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Miss A’s complaint that the Council has placed her children in foster care. Miss A may take the matter to court and it would be reasonable for her to do so.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will refer to as Miss A, complains that the Council has placed her children in foster care.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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)
  2. 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 what Miss A has said in support of her complaint.

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What I found

  1. Miss A says the Council has taken her three children into care. She says the children’s social worker wants to place the youngest child for adoption. She believes the Council is at fault and wants her children returned to her.
  2. The decision to place Miss A’s children in foster care was made by the court and the Ombudsman cannot consider what happened in court. If Miss A wants the children returned to her, her recourse is to take the matter back to court. The Council can achieve the outcome Miss A wants. The Ombudsman cannot. So, it would be reasonable for her to take the matter to court and the Ombudsman will not intervene.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because it would be reasonable for Miss A to take the matter to court.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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