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The failings of the family courts in public family law (more children are dying)

Today Face the Facts went into more detail about the various networks across Europe that are helping refugees from the English and Welsh Family Courts. It is a good programme and worth listening to.

This and Panorama from Monday are, however, only one side of the argument. The key objective of the Child Protection System is to protect children. One way of measuring how well the system is doing is to consider how many children are dying from child abuse and neglect.

There are a number of sources of information. One I use is the number of prosecutions for manslaughter or murder of a child (Baby P's). In 2011 according to the CPS there were 16, in 2012 there were 19 and in 2013 there were 34.

There are also significant incident notifications sent to Ofsted. However, Ofsted have now decided that they will refuse to give me the anonymised list (something they have done up to 2012). This gives a larger number as obviously there will be cases where a child has died, but there is insufficient evidence for a prosecution. There will also be cases where abuse and/or neglect is suspected at first and it turns out that it was not NAI. In itself I think it is wrong for Ofsted to cover up their failure to properly manage this information.

Hence it is quite clear that on a very basic measure of the system that things seem to be getting worse. There is a good reason for this which is that it is very difficult when a child is born to predict that the child will die as a result of abuse or neglect many years later. Often the circumstances change. However, the system has been pressurised by government to go back to what was happening until 2008 which is a high priority on young babies.

As far as babies under 1 month are concerned 1,400 were taken into care in 2010 1,480 in 2011, 1,750 in 2012 and 2,030 in 2013. However, at the same time the evidence is that child deaths have risen.

Obviously when I say "the wrong children are taken into care", that is shorthand for me saying that many decisions are wrong. Some younger children are taken into care unnecessarily and the pressure on the system then means that older children are left to die. Whichever way this is not something that should be ignored. Hence I have tabled a motion about it.

Comments

Rosanne Derrett said…
The decision making process as to what constitutes a 'child at risk' is so utterly flawed it will never work effectively. Plus the people interpreting are biased, manipulative liars who will distort information to fit their scenario. I've had to watch two perfectly able parents have to give up the fight for their 6 month old son this month because they recognise that no matter what evidence is presented, Childrens Services will manipulate and lie to get the result they want. We've gone through a year of utter hell because of this. The gave up the fight because had they gone to court and lost, CS would have snatched any future children at birth. This way they have a fighting chance of keeping any subsequent children.

This situation has to stop. It's cruel, unfair on the child and, with the financial rewards offered, amoral. As for gagging the parents by the Family Courts of ever speaking of any of this; well that just gives CS more power to abuse because the victims have no redress.
Rosanne Derrett said…
The decision making process as to what constitutes a 'child at risk' is so utterly flawed it will never work effectively. Plus the people interpreting are biased, manipulative liars who will distort information to fit their scenario. I've had to watch two perfectly able parents have to give up the fight for their 6 month old son this month because they recognise that no matter what evidence is presented, Childrens Services will manipulate and lie to get the result they want. We've gone through a year of utter hell because of this. The gave up the fight because had they gone to court and lost, CS would have snatched any future children at birth. This way they have a fighting chance of keeping any subsequent children.

This situation has to stop. It's cruel, unfair on the child and, with the financial rewards offered, amoral. As for gagging the parents by the Family Courts of ever speaking of any of this; well that just gives CS more power to abuse because the victims have no redress.
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R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

I have only just found this one which I think is accurately reported below (but if it is not please give me an accurate report).

KING’S BENCH DIVISION

R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

November 9 1923

Editor’s comments in bold.

Here, the magistrates’ clerk retired with the bench when they were considering a charge of dangerous driving. The clerk belonged to a firm of solicitors acting in civil proceedings for the other party to the accident. It was entirely irrelevant that there had been no evidence of actual influence brought to bear on the magistrates, and the conviction was duly quashed.

LORD HEWART CJ:
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