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Birmingham City Council (21 004 042)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 26 Aug 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s safeguarding involvement and actions in relation to the complainant’s daughter. This is because there is nothing we could add to the Council’s complaint response which explains why it will not consider the substantive matter until ongoing court proceedings have concluded.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains on behalf of his mother,
    Mrs Y, about the Council’s safeguarding investigation in relation to Mrs Y’s teenage daughter.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse effect on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start an investigation if the tests set out in our Assessment Code are not met. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
  2. 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:
  • we could not add to any previous investigation by the organisation, or
  • further investigation would not lead to a different outcome. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))
  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)

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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. Mr X complained to the Council on behalf of his mother Mrs Y, about its safeguarding investigation and actions in relation to Mrs Y’s teenage daughter.
  2. The Council responded to Mr X explaining it would not consider the complaint via the complaints process until the ongoing court proceedings have concluded. It told Mr X he can resubmit his complaint to the Council for consideration within 12 months of the court proceedings concluding.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because there is nothing further we could add to the Council’s response explaining it will not consider the matter via the complaints procedure until the ongoing court proceedings have concluded. There is no sign of fault in this approach which the Council has clearly explained.
  2. If Mr X remains dissatisfied with the outcome of his complaint once it has completed the Council’s complaints procedure we can consider it. However, the law prevents us from considering matters that are being, or have been, considered in court proceedings. We have no discretion to do so.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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