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Central Bedfordshire Council (20 007 086)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 09 Sep 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: On the evidence currently available, we cannot investigate Miss X’s complaint about the Council’s children services team as the Court is currently considering the children’s care. We cannot investigate the school’s actions, and her housing problems are not a direct result of the Council’s actions.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Miss X, complains about the contact she has with her children, the lack of information from a school and the location of her housing.

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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 cannot investigate complaints about what happens in schools. (Local Government Act 1974, Schedule 5, paragraph 5(b), as amended)
  3. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We do not start or continue an investigation if we decide:
    • there is not enough evidence of fault to justify investigating, or
    • any fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by the Miss X and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.
  3. The complainant now has an opportunity to comment on my draft decision. I will consider their comments before making a final decision.

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My assessment

  1. Miss X complains about the Council’s children services teams actions relating to her three children. The Court is currently considering the children’s care. Miss X says the final hearing is set for January 2022. We cannot investigate anything the Court is considering which includes the following aspects of Miss X’s complaint:
    • With whom the children are and should live,
    • The contact they should have with family members,
    • How that contact is arranged, and,
    • Whether the Council needs to take any child protection action.
  2. Miss X says the children’s schools have not provided her with the information she is entitled to. We cannot investigate the schools’ actions for the reasons set out in paragraph three.
  3. Miss X says she had to move house because of the Council’s actions. The events she describes are not the direct result of the Council’s actions. This means we are unlikely to find any fault directly caused her to move.

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Draft decision

  1. Subject to any comments Miss X might make, my view is we should not and cannot investigate this complaint. This is because we cannot investigate issues a Court is considering, nor schools’ actions. Her housing concerns are not caused directly by the Council’s actions.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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