Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 06 Jan 2022
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the actions of social workers. The complaint is late and there are no grounds to consider it now.
- The complainant, who I will refer to as Mr B, complains about the actions of social workers towards his family between 2017 and 2020.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)
- 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)
- The Courts have said that we cannot investigate a complaint about any action by a council, concerning a matter which is itself out of our jurisdiction. (R (on the application of M) v Commissioner for Local Administration  EHWCC 2847 (Admin))
How I considered this complaint
- I considered information provided by the complainant.
- I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.
- Mr B’s family has been involved with Children’s Services since a referral in 2017. During the period, the Council has taken child in need and child protection action, and took care proceedings in court. Mr B alleges that two social workers were at fault throughout the period.
- We will not investigate Mr B’s complaint because it is late. Late complaints are when a person takes more than 12 months to come to us about something a council has done. This applies to the entire period covered by the complaint and there are no grounds to consider it now.
- Additionally, the law would prevent us from investigating anything relating to the 2020 care proceedings. What happens in court, and matters related to it, falls outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. There is no discretion available to us on this point.
- We will not investigate Mr B’s complaint because it is late and there are no grounds to consider it now.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman