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Birmingham City Council (20 011 979)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 25 Mar 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint about the conduct of a social worker and a report she wrote for the court. This is because the law says we cannot investigate any matter that forms part of legal proceedings.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I refer to as Mr X, complains about a social worker and a report she wrote for the court. He says the report is full of lies and false allegations. He wants the report to be reviewed and the social worker investigated.

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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 read the complaint and the Council’s response. I invited Mr X to comment on a draft of this decision.

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What I found

Section 7 report

  1. As part of private law proceedings involving children, the court may ask the Council to produce a report. The court will then consider the report as part of its decision making.

What happened

  1. Mr X is involved in private court proceedings regarding contact with his child. The court directed the Council to produce a section 7 report.
  2. A social worker interviewed Mr X and wrote the report. Mr X says the report is full of lies and false allegations. He denies his home is dirty or contains drugs or alcohol; he denies his home is unsafe for a child.
  3. The Council told Mr X it could not investigate his complaint because it does not deal with complaints about court reports. It said Mr X could raise his concerns about the report in court.

Assessment

  1. I cannot start an investigation because the law says we cannot investigate any matter that forms part of legal proceedings. The court ordered the Council to produce the report and the report will be considered in court as part of the legal proceedings. Mr X would need to raise any concerns he has about the report in court. There is no part of the complaint that I can investigate.

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Final decision

  1. I cannot start an investigation because the matters Mr X complains about form part of court proceedings.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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