London Borough of Camden (23 014 614)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 29 Jan 2024

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint about the Council’s actions while the complainant’s son was subject to child protection action and legal proceedings. This is because the complaint concerns matters which have been considered in court or are closely related to those matters.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will refer to as Mr X, complains that the Council was at fault throughout the period when his son was subject to child protection action and legal proceedings regarding his care.

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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 have the power to start or end an investigation into a complaint about actions the law allows us to investigate. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we think the issues could reasonably be, or have been mentioned as part of the legal proceedings regarding a closely related matter. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended, section 34(B))
  3. 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. Mr X’s son was the subject of child protection action and legal proceedings relating to his care. Mr X says that his son’s social worker produced a report containing false information in the course of the proceedings, which she supplied to the Court. He says the same social worker made recommendations which were unsupported by evidence.
  2. Mr X contends that, as a result of the social worker’s intervention, his contact with his son ceased. He argues that the result has been that both he and his son have suffered psychological and emotional trauma. His subsequent complaint to the Council was upheld in part.
  3. The Ombudsman cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint because it concerns matters which have been the subject of action in court, or are closely related to those matters. By law, we cannot consider the evidence the social worker gave to the Court, or the content of the report she submitted. This legal restriction also applies to how the report was produced. There is no discretion available to us. We cannot investigate these matters.
  4. Neither can we investigate matters relating to contact, because contact arrangements have also been considered in court, If Mr X was unhappy with the arrangements for his son’s care or contact with him, or that a Child Arrangement Order in force had been breached, his recourse was to go back to the Court. There is no role for the Ombudsman.

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Final decision

  1. We cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint because it concerns matters which have been considered in court or are closely related to those matters.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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