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Norfolk County Council (21 006 362)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 03 May 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about children services actions. We are unlikely to add to the Council’s reply and unlikely to find fault with its decision on how to include him in meetings.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains about children services actions.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints of injustice caused by maladministration and service failure. I have used the word fault to refer to these. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)
  2. We investigate 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 continue an investigation if we decide:
    • there is not enough evidence of fault to justify investigating, or
    • 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), as amended)
  3. We do not start an investigation if we decide the tests set out in our Assessment Code are not met. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by Mr X and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.
  3. I considered Mr X’s comments on a draft version of this decision.

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My assessment

  1. Mr X has a child, B, who lives with their mother Ms Y. The Council has had a child protection plan for B since August 2020. The Court granted a non molestation order in February 2021 preventing Mr X from contacting Ms Y and from going near her home or B’s school. The Court made a child arrangement order in April 2021 granting Mr X monthly indirect contact with B via letters, to be initially facilitated by the Council.
  2. Mr X complained to the Council about its involvement. His complaint had 18 points including allegations about the allocated social worker, the management of the indirect contact and his attendance at meetings to discuss B.
  3. The Council replied to each 18 points at stage two of its corporate complaints’ procedure in March 2022. It is unlikely we could add to this.
  4. Mr X told us that he wanted as an outcome to his complaint the Council to change the social worker and that he be involved in B’s care plan meetings. Both of these aims have been achieved. The social work team has coincidentally changed. And the Council has confirmed that Mr X will be involved before and after meetings about B. His wishes and views will be obtained before the meetings. Given the non molestation order, it is unlikely we would find fault in this professional decision about how to include him in the meetings.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate this complaint. This is because we are unlikely to add to the Council’s reply to his complaint and we are unlikely to find fault in its decision about how he should be included in meetings.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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