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Lincolnshire County Council (21 011 518)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 28 Mar 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint that the Council failed to take action following safeguarding referrals.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, says the Council failed to take action following safeguarding referrals.

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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 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 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 says the Council failed to take action following safeguarding referrals made about the care of D by their mother. The Council says it considered the referrals, but in its professional view they did not meet the threshold level for intervention.
  2. The Court considered D’s care arrangements in 2021.
  3. It is reasonable to expect the parties to the care arrangement order proceedings in 2021, to have told the Court about the concerns they had for D’s care by their mother. The Court has wide ranging powers including ordering the Council’s involvement.
  4. We have been told the nature of the referrals. It is unlikely our investigation would find fault in the Council’s decision to take no further action.
  5. Mr X says the Council has not dealt with his complaint properly. It is not a good use of public resources to investigate complaints about complaint procedures, if we are unable to deal with the substantive issue.

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Final decision

  1. We will not and cannot investigate this complaint. This is because we cannot investigate issues which have been recently subject to Court proceedings. And it is unlikely we would find Council fault.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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