Somerset County Council (20 008 521)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 04 Dec 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint about the actions of social workers as these matters are not separable from the decision of a court about the residence of her grandchildren.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X complains there was fault in the assessments carried out and the reports written by social workers about her grandchildren. She says the social workers misled the family, leading to her losing touch with her daughter and grandchildren. She wants her family reunited.

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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)
  3. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I read Mrs X’s complaint and the Council’s response to it. I gave Mrs X an opportunity to comment on a draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Mrs X complains she has lost touch with her daughter and grandchildren because of assessments and reports by social workers, who misled the family. She says her complaint is not about the court case. However, the reports, assessments and social workers’ views would have been considered by the court in making an order about the children’s residence and contact arrangements. Only a court can decide such matters.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. We cannot investigate the actions of the court, and the matters complained of are not separable from those considered by the court. Only a court could achieve the outcome Mrs X wants.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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