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Essex County Council (21 018 154)

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 Mrs X’s husband not being allowed to return to the family home. There is not enough evidence of fault to warrant investigation.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X complains the Council will not allow her husband to return to the family home where she lives with her child and this is causing her distress and anguish.
  2. Mrs X further complains she is unable to work, her husband is now homeless and both of them have no support.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Ombudsman investigates complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact 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 or may decide not to continue with an investigation if we decide there is not enough evidence of fault to justify investigating. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
  2. The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone could take the matter to court. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to go to court. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c), 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. Mr X has a criminal conviction which the Council has considered when deciding if he should be allowed to return to the family home with Mrs X and her child.
  2. The Council have taken the decision that the nature of Mr X’s conviction means he may pose a risk to children. It is entitled to reach this view.
  3. Mrs X is entitled to allow Mr X to move back into the family home and deal with any consequences that may arise.
  4. Mrs X also has the right to go to court to seek a child arrangements order which would determine who may live with and spend time with Mrs X’s child.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council to warrant investigation of their decision in relation to allowing Mr X to return to the family home. Mrs X also has the right to go to court for a child arrangements order. It would be reasonable to expect her to use this right.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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