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Brighton & Hove City Council (21 003 343)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 02 Aug 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s handling of a safeguarding referral from Mr Z. This is because the complaint does not meet the tests in our Assessment Code on how we decide which complaints to investigate. There is insufficient evidence of fault and Mr Z can raise his issues is court.

The complaint

  1. Mr Z says the Council failed to take into account his disabilities which include dyslexia and autism when it made unannounced visits and failed to make formal contact. He also says the Council failed to explain its procedures and made him feel pressured
  2. Mr Z also says the Council has prejudicially held back information from the police despite his children disclosing they had been attacked by their mother.
  3. Mr Z has also said the Council sided with his wife and has assisted her with court proceedings.

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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. The Ombudsman investigates 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 may decide not to continue with an investigation if we decide there is not enough evidence of fault to justify investigating.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A (6))

  1. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by Mr Z and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

My Assessment

  1. The Council was initially unaware of Mr Z’s disabilities but says it made reasonable adjustments once he disclosed his disabilities. Moreover, where there are child protection concerns, social workers can make unannounced visits.
  2. We will therefore not investigate Mr Z’s complaint because there is no evidence of fault to justify investigating this part of the complaint.
  3. Mr Z’s wife has taken him to court for access to their children.
  4. The issues about the Council holding back information from the police and siding with his wife in court are too closely linked to the court proceedings. We will therefore not investigate Mr Z’s complaints. He can reasonably raise these issues in court.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mr Z’s complaint because there is not enough evidence of fault to justify our involvement. Mr Z can also raise his other issues in court.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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