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Coventry City Council (21 017 194)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 11 Apr 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the actions of the Council’s children’s services in relation to the care of the complainants child. This is because the matter has been subject to court proceedings.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will call Ms X, complains about how the Council’s children’s services dealt with matters relating to the care of her child.

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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)

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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. In 2020 the courts made an interim decision on the residency and contact arrangements for Ms X’s child, after the child’s father made an application to the courts. The Council were subsequently asked to write a Section 7 report for the court, which was considered during a further hearing to consider the permanent arrangements.
  2. Ms X complains that the Council funded the original court action and subsequently provided false information which affected the outcome of the hearing.
  3. I cannot investigate Ms X’s complaint. This is because the care arrangements for her child have been considered in court. Information provided by the Council including Section 7 reports fall outside of our jurisdiction because they form part of what happened in court.
  4. Furthermore, at least some of the events Ms X complains ago happened more than a year ago. I see no reason why Ms X could not have complained to the Council or the Ombudsman sooner.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Ms X’s complaint because the matter has been subject to court proceedings.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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