Defending the indefensible
In a sense we have a judge here who is not really defending what has been going on as he recognises that it has not been good. Others still defend the actions of the Family Courts (including the Court of Appeal).
Quoting from the article"It is perfectly usual in this court to be removing the fourth, fifth and sixth children from such parents," the judge says. "It's not unheard of for it to be the eighth or the tenth."
As I try to grasp what it must mean for a mother to have 10 children taken permanently into care, he caps even that extraordinary figure. "In one case, I have removed the fourteenth."
District Judge Crichton's main concern is, naturally, for the child's welfare.
"We are achieving nothing for these children," he tells me with studied understatement. But there is also the cost of care proceedings and paying foster-parents to bring them up. "This is colossally expensive," he says.
To be fair to this particular judge he is also looking at how to keep families together. That is, however, not really his job. His job is to be a judge. That relates to the law. The underlying problem with the Children Act 1989, however, is that there is very little law although quite a bit of procedure. The judges are made to act as social workers deciding what is in the "best interests of the child" which means different things to different people and therefore is not a legal test. I do welcome his work to keep families together, but as we redesign the system of public family law we need to have judges who deal with the law.
However, "the system" should be resourcing keeping families together rather than splitting them up. The evidence is that taking a child into care is in itself a damaging step.
What this reveals is that a woman has been acting as the slave of the state and has been forced to give up 14 babies in sequence to feed the state's adoption machine. If any newspaper tells her side of the story they are in contempt of court. Not a good situation.
Where the article does defend the system however is here:Children are taken into care because there is no parent capable of looking after them. Research suggests that in 70 per cent of these cases the mother has a problem with drink or drugs - or both. In the Inner London Family Proceedings Court, where District Judge Crichton presides, the figure is higher still: 80 or 90 per cent."
In the many cases I have been looking at this is simply not the case.