London Borough of Tower Hamlets (19 000 283)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 16 May 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complains the Council failed to investigate his concerns about his ex-partner. He also says the Council provided false information to the Court and breached his confidentiality. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because we are unlikely to find fault in the way the Council dealt with his report. Also, complaints about Court reports are outside his jurisdiction. And Mr X can ask the Information Commissioner’s Officer to consider his complaint about a breach of confidentiality.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains the Council failed to investigate his concerns about his ex-partner’s actions and state of mind. He also says the Council provided false information to the Court and gave confidential information to his ex-partner.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe it is unlikely that we would find fault. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A (6), as amended)
  2. As a Court has ordered the section 7 report, their preparation and content are outside our jurisdiction under schedule 5(1) Local Government Act 1974.
  3. We normally expect someone to refer the matter to the Information Commissioner if they have a complaint about data protection. However, we may decide to investigate if we think there are good reasons. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A (6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by Mr X and discussed his complaint with him. I also considered information provided by the Council.
  2. Mr X can commented on the draft version of this decision.

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What I found

  1. In April 2018, Mr X gave the Council information about his ex- partner which raised safeguarding concerns. The Council says a social worker visited the ex- partner the following day. Following this visit, the social worker recommended a child in need plan. Assessments for this were completed in June 2018.
  2. Because of the Council’s actions described above, I consider it unlikely that we would find fault in respect of Mr X’s claim that the Council ignored the information he provided.
  3. Mr X also complains the Council provided false information to the Court. This refers to a section 7 report and follow up information requested by the Court. As this information has been requested by the Court it is outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction as we cannot consider the concerns Mr X raises on this point.
  4. The third point Mr X raises, is the Council shared his personal information with his ex- partner. The Information Commissioner’s Officer (ICO) was set up by Parliament to consider information rights issues. This includes allegations that a public body has breach the Data Protection Act. I have not seen any reason why it would not be reasonable for Mr X to ask the ICO to consider this part of his complaint.

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Final decision

  1. I will not and cannot investigate this complaint. This is because:
    • We are unlikely to find fault in the way the Council responded to concerns Mr X raised about his ex-partner
    • Court ordered reports and follow up requests for information are outside our jurisdiction; and
    • The ICO is the appropriate body to consider complaints about possible breaches of the Data Protection Act

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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