Children and Families Campaigning Summary Report
Family Court Secrecy
Many people will know of the difficulties that have historically been caused by secrecy in the Family Courts. There have been three recent changes that are of significance in this area.
The Family Proceedings (Amendment No 4) Rules 2005http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2005/20051976.htm
This change to the rules relating to the family courts make it much easier for parties to obtain advice and discuss the proceedings with advisers. This means that parties can now talk to "A lay advisor or MacKenzie friend" to obtain advice about the proceedings when they are live. This has to be in confidence, but it does make it possible to discuss matters with campaign groups before it is too late. Those details cannot be publicised, however,
Simon Clayton's hearing into secrecyhttp://www.simonclayton.org.uk/
Simon Clayton set a landmark Court of Appeal ruling that ended the automatic ban on identifying children involved in family court cases after proceedings has ended. The blanket of silence that prevented public discussion of decisions to take children from their families was lifted.
Consultation on opening up proceedings in family courtshttp://www.dca.gov.uk/consult/courttransparencey1106/cp1106.htm
This is an important consultation into a more widespread opening up of access to Family Court Cases. The consultation remains open. An area where concern remains is mechanisms to prevent continual perjury in Family Courts.
Conflicts of Interest in Family Proceedings
One area which has gone relatively quiet is that of the conflict of interest in Child Protection Departments also being responsible for provision of support. This conflict of interest causes many of the difficulties that lie within child protection. A House of Commons motion will be laid down later this year to argue for this change to be introduced. Any comments would be welcome.
FASSIT amongst others are working to bring balance back into Child Protection proceedings by acting to assist families in ensuring that Social Workers follow legal proceedings. Certain test cases are being monitored by FASSIT and myself to ensure that children are not maltreated by Social Services removing them unlawfully from their families.
Munchausens Syndrome by Proxy Review (FII)
A group of MPs chaired by Dr Richard Taylor MP is reviewing the guidelines used for referring children to Social Services Departments. They are paricularly interested in any cases of wrongful references. If people have details could those details be emailed to Oliver Cyriax (see email address below)email@example.com
Children and Families Comprehensive Spending Review
The government is reviewing expenditure in each budget heading. People may wish to argue that money spent in assisting families in looking after their children would be more cost effective than expensive residential and foster care.
Joint HM Treasury and Department for Education and Skills Children and Young People's Review: terms of reference (DfES/HMT)http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/3DE/13/cyp_statement050706.pdf