Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 06 Apr 2022
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint about the actions of a social worker relating to a child’s care. This is because the law prevents us from investigating matters which have been decided in court.
- The complainant, whom I refer to as Ms X, complains about the actions of a social worker in relation to her granddaughter’s care. She states inaccurate information was documented and allegations were not investigated properly.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse effect on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start an investigation if the tests set out in our Assessment Code are not met. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
- 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)
- The courts have said we can decide not to investigate a complaint about any action by a council concerning a matter which is outside our jurisdiction. (R (on the application of M) v Commissioner for Local Administration  EHWCC 2847 (Admin))
How I considered this complaint
- I considered information provided by Ms X and the Council.
- I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.
- Ms X’s granddaughter has been the subject of legal action concerning her care. Ms X complains that the Council was at fault in the course of the action.
- We cannot investigate this complaint. The child’s care matter has been considered in Court and this places matters relating to it outside of our jurisdiction. By law, we cannot investigate the preparation, collation and analysis of evidence, including whether the information presented to the Court was accurate or complete. The matters Ms X has raised are not separable from those considered by the Court.
- We cannot investigate Ms X’s complaint because it concerns a matter which has been considered in court.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman