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Herefordshire Council (19 000 213)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 17 May 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr A’s complaint that the Council has failed to provide him with support and has given misleading information in court. The matter Mr A complains about have been, or can be, considered in court.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will refer to as Mr A, complains that the Council has failed to provide him with support and has given misleading information in court.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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)
  2. The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone could take the matter to court. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to go to court. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c), as amended)
  3. We have the power to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we think the issues could reasonably be, or have been, raised within a court of law. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered what Mr A has said in support of his complaint. I have also taken account of the documents he has provided in response to my draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr A’s son is in foster care and is the subject of a placement order. Mr A complains that the Council has failed to support him since it became involved with his son, and has failed to help him and other family members to have contact with the child. He also complains that it has given misleading evidence to the courts during the legal proceedings.
  2. The Ombudsman cannot investigate what happens in court and cannot therefore consider the evidence the Council has given during the legal process. The care of the child and contact are matters which Mr A may take to court and it would be reasonable for Mr A to do so. The Ombudsman will not intervene.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because the matters about which Mr A complains have been, or can be, considered in court.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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