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Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council (22 003 194)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 21 Jun 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint the Council has sent a court an assessment saying he should not care for his children and that it did not support him caring for them in a court case many years ago. We cannot lawfully investigate what happens as part of court proceedings.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains the Council, eleven years ago, supported the mother in a court case to decide who should care for their children. Mr X says he lost contact with his children and the Council is partly to blame.
  2. Mr X complains the Council has taken his children into care due to the poor parenting of their mother and her partner. He says the mother does not want them back. Mr X says the Council’s viability assessment does not support him as a carer for the children. He says the Council has told lies about him in court.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  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 the information and comments supplied by Mr X and the Council. The information includes the Council’s letter to Mr X dated 26 May 2022 explaining the position.

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My assessment

  1. I will not investigate this complaint for the following reasons:
  2. The Ombudsman cannot lawfully investigate what happens in court (see paragraphs 3 and 4 above). The Council says care proceedings continue and its viability assessment on Mr X is with the court. We cannot investigate the Council’s evidence, assessment, or recommendations to court. This includes the earlier court action which Mr X says happened eleven years ago.
  3. We cannot achieve what Mr X wants. The Ombudsman could not say the Council is at fault for him not having contact with his children over many years when the mother was the legal carer. If Mr X wanted contact with his children, he could have applied to court for a child arrangement order.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint the Council has sent a court an assessment saying he should not care for his children and did not support him caring for them at a court case many years ago. We cannot lawfully investigate what happens as part of court proceedings.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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