Government: Children Have No Right To Talk To Judges

Researching Reform

Despite promising to give children a greater voice in the Family Court the government still seems to be doing nothing, after it confirmed that the Ministry of Justice never enacted a policy allowing children to speak to judges.

This information came to  light after Researching Reform made a Freedom Of Information Request asking what progress had been made allowing children to speak to family judges about their cases. You can see the request and the Ministry of Justice’s full response, here.

We’ve added the section which confirms the government’s inaction, below:

foi

In 2014, the government pledged to make sure that children going through the family courts would be able to speak to judges about their wishes and feelings.

Whilst the Freedom Of Information response from the Family Justice Policy Division blames the last government for failing to implement this policy, that’s not quite right.

Dr Phillip Lee, who was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary…

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Researching Reform Meets Legal Action For Women

Researching Reform

Legal Action For Women (LAW) very kindly invited Researching Reform to come to their office in Kentish Town yesterday, to talk about child welfare.

Dedicated to offering support for low income women, Legal Action For Women garnered media attention this year after publishing a report entitled, ‘Suffer The Little Children‘, which looks at some of the underlying causes for the sharp rise in the removal of children from their mothers inside the Family Justice System.

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We met with Anne Neale, co-author of the report, and Kim, who talked to us about the work they do, the campaigns they are currently working on and the organisation’s continued efforts to lobby government in order to raise awareness around the importance of motherhood.

FullSizeRender.jpg Anne Neale

LAW is currently working in several different areas, including the Children and Social Work Bill and its content on adoption, service privatisation and the ‘opt out clause’.

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Das reBoot – Court of Appeal find reverse gear (once again)

suesspiciousminds

A major theme in family case law over the last 2-3 years has been misuse of section 20 – voluntary accommodation, with all sorts of guidance being provided, culminating in the President of the Family Division giving a decision in Re N 2015 which just invented huge new chunks of legal obligations on Local Authorities and threatening damages if they didn’t obey.

That in turn, quite coincidentally, led to the biggest increases in number of care proceedings issued that we have seen since the Baby P crisis hit. It is a complete coincidence, of course. I mean, over that same period of time, we haven’t actually seen the number of children in foster care go up at all, but we have seen the number of care proceedings go up by 35%, but the two things are utterly unrelated.

As I’ve said before, I do think that there was a genuine…

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Building Redbridge to your heart

suesspiciousminds

Readers may remember the London Borough of Redbridge getting a hard time recently in this case

Like Redbridge under troubled water (a Local Authority takes a kicking case)

And you might remember that the case hadn’t finished there –  MacDonald J had effectively put the Local Authority in special measures, with them having to write to him each and every week to say if the case was still on track to an adjourned final hearing.  So this is the judgment from the final hearing, and if Redbridge’s bruises were healing up, they just got some new ones.

But first, here’s  photo of a muppet.   (this is foreshadowing, y’all… )

No, it's not Honey G out of X-Factor No, it’s not Honey G out of X-Factor

Re  E (A child : Care proceedings) 2016

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWFC/HCJ/2016/59.html

The final hearing was conducted by Mr Justice Moor, and he opened with this King Punch

  • Following the Family Justice Review, it was recognised that…

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Judge making findings about a witness – fair trial

suesspiciousminds

This is a very tricky one – I have to say that my eventual conclusion is that the Court of Appeal are entirely right about the principles and the decision that they came to, but it leaves me feeling uncomfortable and queasy that allegations as important as this about professional misconduct end up being dealt with on a technicality. What was alleged (and found by the Judge who heard all the evidence) was very serious stuff indeed.

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2016/1140.html

In this case, at the end of a 4 week hearing, the Judge delivered a judgment that said that the SW and Police Officer had embarked on a deliberate calculated exercise of getting ‘evidence’ to prove sexual abuse without any relation to whether or not the allegations were true, that they had drawn other professionals in, that both had lied to the Court and that the SW had caused considerable emotional harm…

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England’s Stolen Children – Controversial New Documentary On Forced Adoption

Researching Reform

The French media have been fascinated for some time by England’s use of Forced Adoption, as a country very much in the minority in how they apply this controversial approach to vulnerable families. The latest documentary from France on this topic has been produced by France 5 and is called “England’s Stolen Children”. It airs tomorrow evening, 7.40pm UK time. 

The documentary makes several claims which portray Britain’s child protection sector as unethical, lawless and profiteering. Information about the documentary includes contentious language, which we’ve translated below:

“This documentary tells the story of the thousands of children unjustly removed from their families. It chronicles families’ terrifying experiences of children taken at birth, the promise of future removal whilst mothers are pregnant and the threat of removal directed at women who have not yet had children, solely on a suspicion of future harm to the child.

The setting for this documentary…

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When I’m sixty-four (bundles)

suesspiciousminds

A permission to appeal hearing in the Court of Appeal. Where the parents did not have legal aid and

(A) There were Court orders that said that they couldn’t have a copy of the judgment ; and

(B) There were sixty four Court bundles  (and even whittling it down for the appeal there were still 27 just to decide the permission application)

Re A and B (Children) 2016

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2016/1101.html

The impact of confidentiality on the appeal process

  • For sound reasons, which are not challenged in the course of these two applications for permission to appeal, Theis J imposed a highly restrictive regime aimed at maintaining total confidentiality as to the content of her fact finding judgment and the subsequent welfare determinations that she made. In short terms mandatory orders are in place which prevent any of the lay parties from having a copy of the judgments, or any part of…

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Should Fear Of Being Shamed Affect Social Workers’ Professionalism?

Researching Reform

An article published in Community Care on Wednesday by a professor of Social Work at the University of Birmingham suggests that media and public scrutiny of the profession is causing social workers to feel shame which leads them to behave unethically.

Matthew Gibson says:

“Government departments provide press releases, inspectorates provide ‘inadequate’ gradings, and the media amplify the message of incompetence locally and nationally.

Inevitably senior leadership teams seek to avoid being publicly shamed and change their organisations so that employees produce the evidence they need for a positive evaluation.”

The article comes out in defence of the social work sector, but not through intelligent reasoning of the need for this vital work, instead it chooses to focus on blaming the press for the current shortcomings inside the system and the deep shame research suggests social workers feel about their roles.

Mr Gibson’s central argument is that a lack…

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The state-sponsored kidnapping of children is not a dream – it’s Britain in 2015 @IICSA_media @cabinetofficeUK @theresa_may

No Punishment without Crime or Bereavement without Death!

16-10-23-state-sponsored-kidnappingSusie Boniface aka Fleet Street Fox wrote for The Mirror in October 2015:

However, September 2016 was the month with the highest ‘catch’ ever so far: 1,216 children:

Trends have been rising:

When will people DARE to CARE and STOP turning children into statistics???

When will people join the dots of child abuse and spot the patterns of the purpose of child snatching?

When and how will the Forced Removal of children stop?

  • Police take them, aided by Social Workers,
  • justified by unqualified ‘experts’,
  • seemingly legitimised in secret family courts.

When will schools reveal whether the…

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Researching Reform For Jordans: ‘Trying’ Families In Court Is Old Fashioned And Ineffective.

Researching Reform

For our column over at Jordans this month, we offer ways in which the Family Justice System can be reformed and explain why to date this has not happened.

Our recommendations include a drastic rethink of the court model, lifting professional standards so that they meet and match twenty first century expectations and placing policy inside the system which prioritises unity over separation in a family context.

You can read our article on the Jordans website, or below:

Family Court Reform: Thinking Outside The Witness Box

The President of the Family Division has recently confirmed what family law professionals have known for a long time. The system is on its knees, brutally stripped of resources and full to the brim with vulnerable families who can’t access fair representation because legal aid is all but gone. With every year that goes by, new problems layer on top of old ones. Even…

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Mothers Told To Lie To The Family Court About Domestic Violence

Researching Reform

Lawyers in Australia are telling mothers not to disclose domestic violence incidents in Family Court over fears that their clients will be accused of trying to alienate the other parent from the children involved.

This problem is not specific to Australia, as it is something UK lawyers also tell mothers, so this piece is an exceptionally important read, not just for the general areas of concern it highlights, but for understanding Court culture in England and Wales, as well.

Needless to say, judges and other interested parties in Australia are denying the allegations, which have been made not just by parents who have experienced the system, but by experts working in the field.

We are adding an extract from the piece below:

LAWYERS are telling mums “to lie to the Family Court” about domestic violence and child abuse because they fear their clients will be seen as trying to alienate…

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This Is How Visits To See Your Child In A Contact Centre Should Be…

Researching Reform

The Family and Children’s Resource Programme at the University of North Carolina, have done something amazing.

Their videos on how to better understand parents’ emotions during supervised contact and showing foster carers how to work with birth parents, are outstanding, and need to be shared and watched, not just by parents but by our own child welfare professionals and universities offering social work courses.

From creating a sense of normality for children in care, to supporting mums and dads during visits to see their children, the videos offer hugely insightful information on why parents sometimes skip supervised contact, how child welfare professionals can help families stay together and more.

We would urge everyone with an interest in child protection and child welfare generally to subscribe and watch these hugely helpful videos. 

A very big thank you to Dana for alerting us to these videos.

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Parents whose Children were removed: apply for Fostering! Government wants to ‘take stock’ @UKHomeOffice

No Punishment without Crime or Bereavement without Death!

15 05 18 Petition Forced Adoption 625All you mothers whose children were taken at birth,
all you parents who don’t get your child or children back, even though you tried and tried and tried,
all you parents who had to say ‘good bye’ at forced adoption meetings,

now there is a chance to offer yourself as a ‘foster carer’ in the ‘foster care market’!

The Education Committee is studying this new ‘market’ and you might want to voice your concerns.

Tell your story how you have been made ‘childless’ and thus are available as a ‘foster carer’ – maybe for your own child or the child of a friend?

Make your submission online via this link:

This systematic destruction of the family can only be explained through long term planning over generations, where private companies are now being set up by long standing ‘institutions’ and ‘authorities’ to do with and for money what families used to do…

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LIP Service

suesspiciousminds

Important High Court authority that states that where a case involves both a Litigant in Person AND a lawyer, the lawyer has to ensure that any case management documents and case law is provided to the litigant in person at least THREE WORKING DAYS before a contested hearing.

 

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2016/2365.html

This, when you see it in black and white is of course fair. In this case, the litigant in person was handed counsel’s position statement and case law relied upon at the first morning of the final hearing, 114 pages of fresh information, much of it quite dense. That can’t be fair.

It will though necessitate a change in working practice. The reason the documents aren’t provided three days in advance generally is that they just don’t exist at that point. We have got used to a “Just in Time” pace, where the substantial prep for a hearing is done…

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How much worse can it get? The Social Work Bill will let Councils opt out of Child Protection Rules @RT

No Punishment without Crime or Bereavement without Death!

16-10-06-independentNew law will let councils opt out of child protection rules – as if they ever adhered to them in the first place… – The Independent

A Government Bill is to give local councils unprecedented new powers to opt out of child protection laws, leading children’s charities to warn that vulnerable children could suffer.

The Children and Social Work Bill, which is currently before Parliament, would give ministers the power to exempt local councils from legal duties to children in social care. This includes children under the supervision of social workers and those living in care homes or foster homes.

The change means decades of child protection laws could be ignored by councils who argue they have better – or cheaper – solutions.

40 charities, including Liberty, Women’s Aid and the Howard League for Penal Reform have joined forces to oppose what they call the “dangerous” plans.

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Time to fight the removal of children’s rights through the Children and Social Work Bill

rightsinreality

There are bad ideas. There are really bad ideas. And then there’s clauses 29-33 of the Children and Social Work Bill 2016.

This handful of clauses, if approved by Parliament, will allow the Secretary of State to exempt local authorities in England from the requirements of children’s social care legislation in the guise of ‘test[ing] different ways of working’. At a stroke the Secretary of State could say that Durham doesn’t have to meet disabled children’s needs under section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, Doncaster can forget about parent carers’ needs assessmentsor Dudley can ignore the duties owed to young carers. In the alternative, the Secretary of State could modify the way in which these requirements apply rather than exempt them entirely, just to increase the overall level of confusion.

I’m struggling to know where to start in explaining why this…

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