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London Borough of Bromley (21 017 953)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 11 Apr 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint about the Council’s actions concerning the care of a child. The matters complained about are not separable from matters that have been considered in court.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will call Mr X, raises his complaint on behalf of he his ex-partner and his daughter. I will refer to Mr X’s daughter as Z. Mr X says the Council’s children’s services produced an inaccurate assessment which led to Z being placed in foster care. Mr X says the Council’s actions caused Z harm and the family significant distress which was prolonged due to the Council further pursuing the matter through the courts.

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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)

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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. I cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint. This is because decisions about Z’s care have been decided by the courts. The law says we cannot investigate any matter which has already been considered in court. The actions of the social worker who produced the report are not separable from the proceedings themselves. This is because their actions were part of the process which led to the case being considered in court and the information provided in their assessment was considered in court.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because the matter has been subject to court proceedings and the issues Mr X’s raises are not separable from those proceedings.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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