Surrey County Council (20 006 600)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 08 Dec 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr B’s complaint that the Council is at fault in deciding his children should remain subject to child protection plans. This is because it is unlikely we would find fault on the Council’s part.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will refer to as Mr B, complains that the Council is at fault in deciding his children should remain subject to child protection plans.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe it is unlikely we would find fault. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered what Mr B has said in support of his complaint and relevant correspondence provided by the Council. I have offered Mr B the opportunity to comment on a draft of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr B’s children are subject to child protection plans. At the first Review Child Protection Conference, the decision was taken to maintain the plans. Mr B complains that this decision was flawed. He argues that the conference Chair overruled the other members, who wanted to cease the plans. Mr B also complains that the Council delayed sending him the report of the conference.
  2. The Council has considered Mr B’s complaint. It has apologised for the delay in sending him the report. It upheld the decision to maintain the child protection plans, and set out why it felt this was appropriate. Mr B regards the Council’s position as unreasonable.
  3. Child protection conferences make recommendations, but it is for a council to decide whether to implement them. That is a matter for the professional judgement of officers. In this case, the Council has provided cogent and defensible reasons why it has decided to maintain the plans. Mr B disagrees with the Council’s decision, but that does not mean it was made with fault. It is not for the Ombudsman to intervene to criticise the decision, or substitute an alternative view.
  4. Given that the Ombudsman will not express a view on whether the child protection plans should be ceased or maintained, it is unlikely we would find fault on the Council’s part.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we would find fault on the Council’s part.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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