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Middlesbrough Borough Council (21 018 687)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 07 Apr 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint the Council is placing her grandchild for adoption without contact with her. We cannot achieve the outcome Mrs X wants and cannot investigate court decisions.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X complains the Council is placing her grandchild for adoption without contact with her. The Council’s viability assessment decided no family member could care for her grandchild. Mrs X says the social worker did not explain the consequences of a negative assessment. Mrs X says she will only have one photograph of her grandchild every year. She disagrees with the plan for adoption and wants contact with her grandchild every month.

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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:
  • we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))

  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 Mrs X’s information and comments. The information held includes the Council’s reply to the complaint.

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My assessment

  1. I will not investigate this complaint for the following reasons:
  2. The Ombudsman cannot achieve the outcome Mrs X wants regarding the adoption plan or contact with her grandchild.
  3. We cannot investigate what happens in a court (see paragraphs 3 and 4). This includes the Court’s decision to approve the plan for adoption and the Council’s evidence and assessments provided to the Court.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint the Council is placing her grandchild for adoption without contact with her. We cannot achieve the outcome Mrs X wants and cannot investigate court decisions.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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