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Devon County Council (19 019 643)

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 will not investigate Miss B’s complaint that the Council has unreasonably taken legal action and child protection action in respect of her children. This is because the complaint concerns matters which have been, or can be, raised in court.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will refer to as Miss B, complains that the Council has unreasonably taken legal action and child protection action and legal action in respect of her children.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  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)
  2. We have the power to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we think the issues could reasonably be, or have been, raised within a court of law. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered what Miss B has said in support of her complaint.

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What I found

  1. Miss B complains that the Council has unreasonably taken legal action in respect of her children. She says the children are also unnecessarily subject to child protection plans which contain false information, which has been shared with the court.
  2. Miss B complains that the Council has refused to accept her complaint about its actions. It has done so because the legal proceedings are ongoing. But it says it will consider a complaint from Miss B when the proceedings have concluded.
  3. The Ombudsman will not investigate Miss B’s complaint. By law, we cannot investigate anything which has come before the court, so we cannot comment on whether the Council has submitted false information in reports. As legal action is ongoing, it would be reasonable for Miss B to bring her complaints about the Council’s actions to the court’s attention. The Ombudsman will not intervene.
  4. The Council’s decision to decline to consider the matter while the legal action is ongoing is reasonable. Miss B has the option of complaining again when the process is concluded. If she does so, and is unhappy with the Council’s response, she may wish to make a new complaint to the Ombudsman at that point.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because it concerns matters which have been, or can be, considered in court.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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