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London Borough of Redbridge (22 000 283)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 27 Apr 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We cannot investigate Miss X’s complaint about recommendations a social worker made in court during family court proceedings because it lies outside our jurisdiction. The law prevents us from considering complaints about matters that have been considered in court. We have no discretion to do so.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Miss X, complains about a social worker’s recommendations to the court during family court proceedings. Miss X says the social worker, who had no previous involvement with the case, made recommendations which departed from those set out in the court ordered Section 7 report completed by the previous social worker. This impacted the court’s decision.

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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.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. Miss X complained to the Council about the social worker’s recommendations during the family court hearing and the impact of this.
  2. The Council told Miss X it would not consider her complaint and said she could challenge the social worker’s evidence as part of the court proceedings.
  3. Miss X spent around £10,000 on successfully appealing the court’s decision.

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Final decision

  1. We cannot investigate Miss X’s complaint because it lies outside our jurisdiction. The law prevents us from investigating complaints about matters such as this that have been considered in court. This restriction includes evidence provided to the court during proceedings. We have no discretion to do so.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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