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Middlesbrough Borough Council (21 003 122)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 15 Jul 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We cannot investigate Mrs X’s complaint about the contents of a report submitted in family court proceedings because it lies outside our jurisdiction. The law prevents us from considering complaints about matters that have been considered in court proceedings. We have no discretion to do so.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mrs X, complains about the contents of a court report considered in family court proceedings.

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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 considered information provided by the complainant and by the Council. I also considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. Mrs X says a court report the Council provided for family court proceedings in relation to her grandchildren included false information. This included reference to domestic abuse, which did not happen. Mrs X says the officer should have made checks about the information her daughter provided as there is no history of abuse, other than financial abuse against her by her daughter and son-in-law.
  2. Mrs X complained to the Council. The Council explained it would not investigate her complaint via its complaints procedure as it was about a matter that was being considered in court proceedings.

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Final decision

  1. We cannot investigate Mrs X’s complaint because it lies outside our jurisdiction. The law prevents us from considering matters that have been considered in court. This restriction also applies to reports submitted to the court. We have no discretion to consider it and cannot do so.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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