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Durham County Council (19 020 282)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 27 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint that the Council’s actions led to his children being placed for adoption. We cannot investigate court decisions. Mr X’s complaint about breaches of data protection can go to the Information Commissioner. There is insufficient injustice for the Ombudsman to investigate.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains the Council’s actions have resulted in his children being placed for adoption and separated from each other. He says the Council has given the court false information, it has breached a court order and ignored the Judge’s instructions. He says the Council inappropriately interviewed a young child in the back of a car.
  2. Mr X complains the Council has breached data protection rules. He says the Council took photographs from his property without his permission. He says it sent him a care plan on another family.

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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. 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 have considered Mr X’s information and comments.

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What I found

  1. Mr X says the Council removed his children who are being placed for adoption. He says they are being separated from each other and from other siblings who are not being adopted.
  2. Mr X says the Council took photographs from his property without his permission.

Analysis

  1. I will not investigate this complaint for the following reasons:
      1. The Ombudsman cannot investigate what happens in court (see paragraph 3 above). This means we cannot consider the removal of the children, decision on adoption, their contact with other siblings, or whether the Council has followed the Courts directions.
      2. There is insufficient injustice for the Ombudsman to investigate Mr X’s data protection complaint. He may report his data protection concerns to the Information Commissioner (see paragraph 4).

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint that the Council’s actions led to his children being placed for adoption. We cannot investigate court decisions. Mr X’s complaint about the Council breaching data protection rules can go to the Information Commissioner. There is insufficient injustice for the Ombudsman to investigate.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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