London Borough of Camden (19 002 050)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 03 Jul 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms X’s complaint about children services involvement with her children moving to another part of the country. This happened in November 2017 and there are no compelling reasons why the late complaint rule should not apply.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Ms X, says the Council should not have moved her children to another part of the country.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Ms X provided with her complaint and the Council’s reply to her which it provided. Ms X had an opportunity to comment on a draft version of this decision.

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What I found

Background

  1. Ms X says that in November 2017 two of her children, then aged 14, were removed from her care and taken to live with her ex-partner, Mr Y, who is not the children’s father, in another part of the country. She says she applied in 2018 to Court for an order that the children be returned to her care. She says she withdrew that application as at the time she did not want to disrupt the children’s education.
  2. Ms X says one of the children returned to her care in September 2018 but the other remains with Mr Y. Ms X complained to the Council in February 2019. She asked the Council to review its reply at Stage Two of its complaints’ procedure, but in April 2019 it refused. She then complained to the Ombudsman.
  3. The Council says because of concerns about Ms X’s ability to care for her children, it held a multi agency child protection conference in July 2017. The children moved to Mr Y’s, following an incident, for their own safety. It says the case transferred to the Council in which Mr Y lives in November 2017.
  4. Ms X says she did not complain until February 2019 because she had suffered a breakdown after the children left her care.

Analysis

  1. We cannot investigate events known to Ms X for more than 12 months without compelling reasons. Here the reason Ms X gives for delaying in complaining is not strong enough to cover the period November 2017 to February 2019. In reaching this view, I have taken into account:
      1. that she was able to apply to Court during that period;
      2. one child returned to her care and she was able to care for them;
      3. Ms X has made it clear that she is not complaining about the Council where Mr Y lives, but only about the children’s move to that area in November 2017;
      4. At any point from November 2017 onwards Ms X could have applied to Court for an order the children return to her care if she believed they should not be living with Mr Y and
      5. We could not order Mr Y to return the child still living with him to Ms X.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because there are no reasons compelling enough to not apply the late complaint rule.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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