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Leeds City Council (19 018 458)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 31 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate Mrs X’s complaint about the accuracy of information given to the Court. And the Information Commissioner’s Office is better placed to consider her complaint about data handling.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mrs X, says the Council holds inaccurate information about her and she says the Council has not properly replied to her complaints. She would like compensation for her grandchild.

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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)
  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)
  3. We normally expect someone to refer the matter to the Information Commissioner if they have a complaint about data protection. However, we may decide to investigate if we think there are good reasons. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
  4. We may investigate complaints made on behalf of someone else if they have given their consent. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26A(1), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

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

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What I found

  1. Mrs X says the Council’s children services team has been involved with her grandchild Y. She says the Council:
    • gave the Courts private information about her within assessments she did not agree with;
    • holds inaccurate information about her;
    • told family members about private information;
    • placed Y with foster carers whom Mrs X says harmed them.
  2. Mrs X would like compensation for Y, an apology, and the documents changed which she says are inaccurate. Mrs X complained to the Council.
  3. The Council says in 2018, the Court decided it should care for Y. It says the assessments which contained information on Mrs X were used in those proceedings.

Analysis

  1. We cannot investigate the content of reports the Council gave the Court.
  2. It is reasonable to expect Mrs X to ask the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to consider her complaint about the Council holding inaccurate information. Parliament set up the ICO to consider Data Protection disputes such as whether Councils hold inaccurate information.
  3. Complaints on behalf of a child usually need to be made by a parent or someone with parental responsibility. As I understand it Mrs X is neither. We need further information from Mrs X on why she believes she is the best person to complain on behalf of Y.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman should not and cannot investigate this complaint. This is because we cannot investigate reports used on Court proceedings, and the ICO is better placed to consider the complaint about document accuracy.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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