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Dorset Council (21 018 529)

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 not being allowed to see her step grandchildren.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X complains the Council will not allow her to see her step grandchildren after an incident took place which prompted social care involvement.
  2. Mrs X is unhappy she was freely allowed access prior to this incident and feels she should be allowed unsupervised access again now.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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)
  2. We cannot investigate a complaint if someone has started court action about the matter. (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. Access to children is ultimately decided by a court.
  2. The Council have taken the decision to restrict Mrs X’s access to her step grandchildren.
  3. Regardless of whether this involves a court order, approaching a court would be the only way to vary the decision.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint because she has a right to go to court which it would be reasonable to use. Decisions about contact with children can only be challenged via a court.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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