Lancashire County Council (20 007 123)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 10 Dec 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the decision to take the complainant’s children into care. This is because the complaint is made late and there is no good reason to consider it now.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I refer to here as Ms C, says that her daughter was unjustly taken into care in 2011.

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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 late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)
  3. 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 have considered the information provided by Ms C, and I have sent her an initial view for her comments.

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What I found

  1. Ms C’s daughter was taken into care in 2011 following a recommendation from the Council.
  2. Ms C remains deeply distressed by the decision, and has been unable to accept it. She has complained to the Ombudsman about the Council’s actions in relation to the removal of her daughter from her care, and the on-going refusal to have her returned to her care.
  3. We will not investigate the complaint because it is made late. The Ombudsman cannot investigate matters known to the complainant more than 12 months previously unless there are good reasons to do so. In this case there are no good reasons to investigate the complaint now. This is because although there may be parts of the complaint that would have been in our jurisdiction, the decision on the substantive matter, to take Ms C’s daughter into care, was made by a court, and we are unable to consider anything that relates to court proceedings.

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Final decision

  1. I will not investigate the complaint as it is made late and there is no good reason to exercise the Ombudsman’s discretion to investigate it now.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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