Staffordshire County Council (18 007 294)

Category : Children's care services > Friends and family carers

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 21 Sep 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s actions concerning Mr Y’s child or Mrs X’s complaint that it is treating her as a drug user. A court is considering the welfare of the child.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X complains for herself and for her son Mr Y that the Council has imposed restrictions on their contact with Mr Y’s child. They say the Council is biased in favour of the mother and should have greater regard to the welfare of the child.
  2. Mrs X complains the Council has written to her and has accepted false allegations that she is a drug user and assaulted the mother of the child. Mrs X says it is the mother who has acted unreasonably and she has done nothing wrong.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)
  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 have considered Mrs X’s information and comments and discussed the complaint with her by telephone. I have considered the Council’s information including its complaint reply to Mr Y dated 4 May 2018.

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What I found

  1. Early in 2018 the Council received a referral on a family headed by Mr Y and the mother of his child. Shortly afterwards the mother and Mr Y separated. There is a child protection plan in place for one or more of the children.
  2. The mother stopped Mr Y seeing his child. I understand contact has since taken place under conditions advised by the Council.
  3. Mr Y has applied to court for a residency order and contact with his child.
  4. Mrs X tells me she is concerned that a court report does not explain that she was the victim of the mother’s behaviour. She says she is not a party to the proceedings and is not attending court. She is upset the Council has written to her and is treating her as a drug user.

Analysis

  1. I will not investigate this complaint for the following reasons:
      1. A court is considering the welfare of the child and current arrangements. The court will consider what has happened and this includes contact. Mr Y can give his version of events in court and can challenge evidence.
      2. The Ombudsman will not investigate a matter which a court is dealing with and it is for the court to consider the evidence including the content of a report.
      3. If Mrs X believes the Council has unfairly called her a drug user then she may complain to the Council. The Ombudsman will not consider that complaint before the conclusion of the court proceedings. The issue is relevant to the welfare of the child which the court is considering.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s actions concerning Mr Y’s child or Mrs X’s complaint that it is treating her as a drug user. A court is considering the welfare of the child.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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