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Birmingham City Council (20 008 890)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 11 Jan 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s action concerning Mrs X’s grandchildren. The contact and residence of children has been and can only be decided by a court. Matters from 2019 or earlier are late and there is no good reason to exercise discretion to investigate them now.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X said the Council is blocking the return of children and has over-ridden the instructions of a court. She said the Council had ignored concerns raised between 2017 and 2019 about the children‘s father emotionally abusing them since 2016.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We cannot investigate a complaint if someone has started court action about the matter. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c), as amended)
  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)

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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. There has been court action concerning the residence of Mrs X’s grandchildren. Any failure of the Council to abide by a court order can only be addressed by a court.
  2. Mrs X stated she raised her concerns about emotional abuse with the Council between 2017 and 2019. As she was able to do that, she could also have complained to us about these matters much nearer the time if the Council’s response was unsatisfactory. Even if that were not so, concerns about parental alienation and emotional abuse could have been raised in court.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint because:
  • We cannot investigate matters where that have been, or could have been considered during previous court action; and even if that were not so
  • Mrs X could have approached us about matters from 2017 to 2019 sooner, and there would be no good reason to exercise discretion to investigate these matters now.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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