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Maidstone Borough Council (18 003 984)

Category : Other Categories > Elections and electoral register

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 05 Jul 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint that the Returning Officer tried to get the complainant sectioned. This is because the Returning Officer acts in a personal capacity and does not carry out administrative functions of the Council.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I refer to as Mrs X, says the Returning Officer tried to get her sectioned.

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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. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out the Ombudsman’s powers but also imposes limits on what she can investigate. She investigates alleged maladministration caused by administrative actions of authorities in jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(1)(a))
  3. Returning Officers for elections act in their own capacity, not as officers of a local authority. (Representation of the People Act 1983, sections 23(2))

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I read the complaint and got some information from the Council. I considered comments Ms X made in response to a draft of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Mrs X says the Returning Officer tried to have her sectioned.
  2. The Returning Officer says she never asked for Mrs X to be sectioned.


  1. I cannot investigate this complaint because Returning Officers act in a personal capacity and not as council officers carrying out administrative functions of the council. I can only investigate complaints about matters linked to the administrative functions of councils. I cannot investigate complaints about people acting in a private capacity.

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Final decision

  1. I will not start an investigation because I have no power to investigate Returning Officers.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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