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West Berkshire Council (18 011 719)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 25 Mar 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint about the Council’s failure to release the complainant’s child from foster care. This is because the court has decided that the child should remain in care.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I refer to as Ms X, complains that the Council will not release her daughter from Council 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 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 read the complaint and Ms X’s previous complaints to the Ombudsman. I considered comments Ms X made in response to a draft of this decision and checked some details with the Council.

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What I found

  1. Ms X complained about her daughter being taken into care. We explained we could not investigate the complaint because the court had given parental responsibility to the Council and the Council had decided to place the child in foster care. The Ombudsman cannot question or challenge a court decision.

What happened

  1. Ms X complains that the Council will not release her daughter. She repeats her complaints about her daughter being taken into care. She says her daughter has diplomatic immunity and is not being well looked after.
  2. The court has ordered that Ms X’s child should remain in care until she becomes an adult. The court previously considered Ms X’s comments about her child having diplomatic immunity.
  3. The Council says Ms X’s child is happy and doing well in school. The Council has no concerns about the child’s well-being in foster care.

Assessment

  1. I cannot investigate the circumstances which led to Ms X’s daughter being taken into care. This is because the court decided to place the child under the care of the Council and I cannot question a court decision. In addition, the Ombudsman has already considered this complaint and we will not accept a complaint about the same issue.
  2. I cannot investigate the complaint about the Council’s decision not to release the child. This is because only the court can decide to change the care arrangements and the court decided the child should remain in care until she is an adult. I have no power to ask the Council to remove the child from foster care and I cannot intervene in a court decision.

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Final decision

  1. I cannot start an investigation because the matters have been decided in court and I cannot intervene in court decisions.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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