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Oxfordshire County Council (21 012 312)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 05 Jan 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s decision to inform Mr X’s partner’s ex-partner about an historic conviction. There is not enough evidence of fault to warrant investigation.

The complaint

  1. Mr X said the Council wrongly took the decision to inform his partner’s ex-partner of his historic conviction.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Ombudsman investigates complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We do not start or may decide not to continue with an investigation if we decide there is not enough evidence of fault to justify investigating. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))

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How I considered this complaint

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

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My assessment

  1. Councils with child safeguarding responsibilities often have to make decisions about whether to disclose information to those with parental responsibility for children about any historic conviction involving a person who has contact with their children. They have wide discretion as the primary responsibility is always to protect the child.
  2. In this case, the Council’s final letter to Mr X gives the grounds for its decision. This letter makes it clear the decision was a matter of professional judgement. While Mr X may take a different view and interpret guidance differently, that difference of opinion is not evidence of fault.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because there is not enough evidence of fault to warrant investigation.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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