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Warwickshire County Council (21 019 019)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 11 Apr 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s refusal to give Mr X information about his child’s education. The Information Commissioner’s Office is better placed to consider the complaint. Court action would also prevent us from investigating matters that are not separable from that action.

The complaint

  1. Mr X said the Council refused to give him information about his child’s education despite him having parental responsibility.

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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 another body better placed to consider this complaint. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))
  2. We cannot investigate a complaint if someone has started court action about the matter. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c), as amended)

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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. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) considers complaints about refusal to provide data.
  2. The Council’s final response to Mr X’s complaint also states the Council has been told that a court is due shortly to consider a case concerning the child. Court action starts when someone first approaches the court, not when the case is heard in court. We have no authority to consider matters not separable from the court action from the point where a person first approaches the court.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because the ICO is better placed to consider a complaint about unreasonable refusal to supply data.
  2. Any court action regarding the child would not be separable from the data matter Mr X complains of. We cannot investigate any matter that is not separable from court action.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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