Oxfordshire County Council (18 008 027)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 21 Sep 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint about the Council’s documents submitted to the courts regarding a child’s care placement. This is because the matter has already been decided in court.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I shall refer to as Miss X, says a Council officer failed to include her comments on a ‘viability assessment’. This document was considered in court and concerned a social worker’s assessment on who a child should live with.

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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 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 the complaint information provided by the complainant. I also shared my draft views with her and read her response carefully.

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What I found

  1. Miss X says the child in question was placed with a step parent instead of family. She said the step parent is preventing the child from having contact with the family and she warned social services of this outcome.
  2. The Council has partially upheld the complaint and agreed that Miss X’s feedback on an assessment were not included in the Council’s documents submitted. It says it has arranged for the process to be reviewed to ensure feedback on assessments is filed with the court. It also says it will ensure in future that those being assessed are made aware they can challenge the conclusions within the proceedings.
  3. My final decision is the Ombudsman cannot investigate. This is because the matter has been decided in court.
  1. I understand Miss X’s reasons for complaining especially in view of the fact she was not made aware of the court proceedings. However the overwhelming point is the decision, on who the child should live with, was made by the court and not the Council.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman cannot investigate any aspect of this as it concerns matters already decided in court.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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