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City of Wolverhampton Council (21 012 405)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 06 Jan 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the actions of social workers. These matters are not separable from matters that were heard in court or could have been brought before the court.

The complaint

  1. Miss X said there was poor practice by social workers. She said they included information about one of her children in a s.7 Children Act 1989 court report sent to her ex-partner, who was not the child’s father. She said the Council designated her children as children in need under s.17 of the same Act without her permission.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We cannot investigate a complaint if someone has started court action about the matter. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c), as amended)
  2. The courts have said that where someone has used their right of appeal, reference or review or remedy by way of proceedings in any court of law, the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction to investigate. This is the case even if the appeal did not or could not provide a complete remedy for all the injustice claimed. (R v The Commissioner for Local Administration ex parte PH (1999) EHCA Civ 916)

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How I considered this complaint

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

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My assessment

  1. The complaint concerns the actions of social workers in preparing a report for a court case involving the contact arrangements for children. Where this happens, the children become children in need under s.17 of the Children Act 1989. The Council’s decision to include all Miss X’s children in the s.7 report and to circulate it to a person to whom Miss X did not wish it to be circulated are inextricably linked to the content of the s.7 report, which was before the court. Therefore, the matters of which Miss X complains are not separable from matters that were or could have been before the court.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Miss X’s complaint because the matters complained of are not separable from those that were or could have been before a court.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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