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Lancashire County Council (20 006 232)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 13 Sep 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint about a decision to remove the complainants children from her care. This is because the complaint concerns decisions made by the courts.

The complaint

  1. The complaint, who I will call Miss C, complains about the decision to remove her children from her care. Miss C wants her children returned to her.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
  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 considered information provided by the complainant and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. I cannot investigate Miss C’s complaint. The decision to remove Miss C’s children from her care was made by the courts. The law says the Ombudsman cannot investigate any matters that have been subject to court proceedings. The decision to remove Miss C’s children therefore falls outside of the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction, and we cannot consider the Council’s role.
  2. I also cannot achieve what Miss C wants. This is because only the courts can decide who should care for her children. If Miss C’s wants her children to be returned to her care, she can seek legal advice and go back to the courts.

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Final decision

  1. I cannot investigate Miss C’s complaint because the matter has been subject to court proceedings.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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