Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 19 Jul 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about a Section 7 report and the conduct of the social worker involved in his case. This is because we cannot investigate what happens in court. This includes the content of court reports. It is reasonable for Mr X to raise his concerns in court, and he has the option of contacting the regulatory body for social workers in England.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complained about the content of a Section 7 report and the conduct of the social worker who produced the report. Mr X also complained the Council wrongly sent him information about another family.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
- 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)
- 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)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered information provided by Mr X and the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.
- Under Section 7 of the Children Act 1989, a court may ask a council to provide a report about the welfare of any child who is the subject of court proceedings.
- A council social worker produced a Section 7 report. Mr X is unhappy with the content of the report and the conduct of the social worker who produced the report.
- The law prevents the Ombudsman from considering what happens in court. A Section 7 report is produced at the request of a court and for use in court. It is not the property of the Council and the Ombudsman cannot consider its content or any potential fault in how it was produced. If Mr X is unhappy with the content of the report, then it is reasonable for him to raise his concerns in court. The court can then consider any evidence Mr X wants to present in support of his case.
- Mr X also complains in general about the social worker involved in his case. But the concerns he raises are intrinsically linked to the Section 7 report and cannot be separated. We will not therefore investigate.
- The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the regulatory body for social workers in England. It is open to Mr X to contact the HCPC with any general concerns he has about the social worker involved in his case.
- The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) deals with breaches of personal data. Mr X should therefore contact the ICO if he wants to raise concerns about information he says the Council sent him in error.
- We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint. This is because we cannot consider complaints linked to court proceedings and it is reasonable for Mr X to raise his concerns in court.
Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman