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Essex County Council (19 020 099)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 30 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms A’s complaint about a report prepared by the Council’s children services team. This is because the issues, and what Ms A wants to achieve cannot be separated from the matters before the family court.

The complaint

  1. Ms A says the Council prepared a false report without investigating any of the allegations against her. She also says the Council ignored all the evidence she presented and has shown bias against her and towards her children’s father.
  2. Ms A says she has now lost her children because of this and the Council has since told her she needed to leave her partner if she wanted her children to live with her.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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)
  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. As part of this complaint I have
  • considered the complaint by Ms A and the complaint correspondence between Ms A and the Council; and
  • issued a draft decision inviting Ms A to reply.

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What I found

  1. Ms A says the Council has acted with bias and has written a false report based on her ex-partner’s lies. She says she lost her children to their father because of this.
  2. When Ms A complained to the Council, it responded by saying her case was subject to current court proceedings. Therefore, it could not investigate her complaint separately.
  3. We cannot intervene in the current court proceedings or investigate reports prepared for the court. Ms A can raise her issues about the Council’s actions to the court. She can also present in court all the evidence she says the Council ignored. And she can ask the court to decide where the children should live and how much contact she should have with them.
  4. The Ombudsman cannot separately investigate council officer actions without considering their consequences. In this case all the effect of the Council’s actions is in the court proceedings, reports and evidence.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because the issues complained about cannot be separated from current court proceedings

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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