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Swindon Borough Council (22 003 333)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 20 Jun 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint about the Council’s decisions regarding Miss X and the safety of her child. The matters complained of are not separable from matters that either have been, or could reasonably have been, raised during court proceedings.

The complaint

  1. Miss X said the Council left inaccuracies in reports and assessments without cross-referencing against other professionals’ reports. She said the Council lied and only shared parts of reports that put her in a bad light. She said the Council did not respond to requests from other professionals and put in a late court application. She said the Council wrongly stepped down her child’s case from child protection to child in need, leaving the child at risk from a violent and alcoholic father. She wanted the Council to correct the records and take her concerns and those of professionals seriously, abiding by a judge's instruction to keep her child safe.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We cannot investigate a complaint if someone has started court action about the matter. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c), as amended)
  2. The courts have said that where someone has used their right of appeal, reference or review or remedy by way of proceedings in any court of law, the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction to investigate. This is the case even if the appeal did not or could not provide a complete remedy for all the injustice claimed. (R v The Commissioner for Local Administration ex parte PH (1999) EHCA Civ 916)

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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’s complaint to us, and the materials she sent, make it clear there have been court proceedings concerning who may safely see and/or care for her child. The complaint concerns the opinions formed by the Council and others about the child’s safety and welfare and the ability of either parent to care for the child. We cannot function as an auxiliary or supplementary authority to a court process, regardless of who initiated that process.

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Final decision

  1. We cannot investigate Miss X’s complaint because the matters complained of are not separable from matters which have been, or could reasonably have been, raised during court proceedings.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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