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Redcar & Cleveland Council (21 012 623)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 10 Jan 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint that the Council included inaccurate information in reports it produced for the courts. This is because we cannot investigate matters that have been subject to court proceedings. Furthermore, the complaint is made late.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will call Mrs X, complains that the Council included inaccurate information in Section 7 and Section 47 reports it produced in 2018 that were subsequently presented to the courts during care proceedings for her grandchildren.

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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. 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)
  3. We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)
  4. We normally expect someone to refer the matter to the Information Commissioner if they have a complaint about data protection. However, we may decide to investigate if we think there are good reasons. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by the complainant.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. I cannot investigate Mrs X’s complaint about the contents of the Section 7 and Section 47 reports because they were requested by and considered in court. The law prevents the Ombudsman from investigating any matters that have been considered in court. This therefore places the contents of these report outside of our jurisdiction.
  2. Even if the law allowed us to investigate these reports we would not. Mrs X says she became aware of these reports in February 2019 but did not complain to the Council until November 2021. Therefore, this complaint is late and I see no reason why Mrs X could not have complained sooner.
  3. If Mrs X feels the Council is holding inaccurate information, she can complain to the Information Commissioner who is best placed to consider such matters.

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Final decision

  1. We cannot investigate Mrs C’s complaint because the matter has been subject to court proceedings and is made late.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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