Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 03 May 2022
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about a children services officer’s actions. We cannot investigate the preparation and content of reports prepared for Court proceedings. Nor an officer’s attendance at Court.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains about a children services social worker’s actions.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered information provided by Mr X which includes the Council’s reply to his complaint.
- I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.
- Mr X says a Council children services social worker delayed in assessing his family. He says the officer during the delay changed their views on his contact with his children. He says the officer then failed to attend a court hearing. He says the officer’s failings have cost him around £9000 in legal fees and have affected his health.
- The Council, in reply to Mr X’s complaint, explained the officer had been involved because they had to prepare a section seven report for the Court.
- As part of private law proceedings involving children, the court may ask the Council to produce a section seven report. The court will then consider the report as part of its decision making.
- Because section seven reports form part of court proceedings, we have no jurisdiction to investigate their preparation or content.
- We cannot investigate a council officer’s non-attendance at Court as this also forms part of Court proceedings.
- We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because we cannot investigate matters involved in Court proceedings.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman