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Cambridgeshire County Council (21 002 070)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 16 Jul 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We cannot investigate Mrs X’s complaint about the preparation and content of assessments and reports ordered by the Court or used in Court proceedings. We cannot investigate these as they form part of legal proceedings.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mrs X, complains about the process used by a Council officer to produce an assessment, the content of the assessment and other actions.

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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 have the power to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we think the issues could reasonably be, or have been, raised within a court of law. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)
  3. We cannot investigate the police’s actions in connection with the investigation or prevention of crime. (Local Government Act 1974, Schedule 5, paragraph 2, as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mrs X provided with her complaint which included the Council’s replies to her. Mrs X had the opportunity to comment on a draft version of this decision.

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What I found

Background

  1. Mrs X says the Council’s children services team did not assess her family properly. She says the officers did not spend long enough with family members to be able to form a thorough and accurate view. She says they did not ask the right questions or in the right way.
  2. Mrs X says the officers then gave the police inaccurate information which led the police to close an investigation.
  3. Mrs X says the Council went on to provide a Court with an inaccurate report based on what Mrs X sees as a flawed assessment. She says the report is not based on the evidence and she did not have a chance to question it in Court.
  4. Mrs X says she has complained to Social Work England about the social workers conduct.
  5. The Council says the Court ordered it to provide a Children Act section seven report. It says its case notes have been given to the Court.

Analysis

  1. We cannot investigate:
      1. The preparation, collation, and analysis of evidence, including reports written by social workers or other officers for court proceedings. This includes section seven reports.
      2. The use of a report written previously, in later court proceedings, such as the assessment Mrs X complains of. And includes, as in the paragraph above, how the assessment was carried out.
      3. The evidence given by council officers in any proceedings, such as the case notes given to the Court.
  2. We cannot investigate the police’s decision to stop an investigation.
  3. We should not investigate the same events Mrs X has complained to Social Work England about.

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Final decision

  1. We cannot investigate this complaint. This is because it involves documents ordered by a Court, others used in legal proceedings and the police’s actions in investigating crime.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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