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Newcastle upon Tyne City Council (22 002 437)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 20 Jun 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Miss X’s complaint about children services actions as the Court is now considering the child’s care.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Miss X, says a Council children services officer failed to properly consider a child’s circumstances and has taken the wrong action.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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)
  2. We have the power to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we think the issues could reasonably be, or have been, raised within a court of law. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by Miss X and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. Miss X is the grandmother to the child concerned here, D, and has consent from D’s father to make a complaint on his behalf. Miss X says a Council’s children social worker failed to properly investigate safeguarding referrals. She does not agree with the officer’s views on D’s care arrangements.
  2. The Council has refused to investigate Miss X’s complaint. It says the Court is now considering D’s care.
  3. Miss X says the officer prepared an inaccurate and unfair report for the Court. She believes the Court will base its decision on this. She says the officer has failed to take into account D’s father’s disability.
  4. The Court is now considering D’s care. We cannot investigate the preparation, collation, and analysis of evidence, including reports written by social workers or other officers for court proceedings.
  5. It is reasonable to expect Miss X, or who is representing her son in the court proceedings, to tell the Court why they believe the Council’s officer’s evidence should not be relied upon.
  6. Miss X says the fault she alleges is, and will, cause unsuitable care arrangements for D. The Court is deciding the care arrangements and we cannot change its decision or investigate the same issues.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Miss X’s complaint because we cannot investigate issues which a Court is deciding.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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