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Showing posts from July, 2008

Cafcass South Yorkshire - Ofsted Report

As with the other reports they find little understandable logic in the judgments of cafcass. It takes a bit of time to understand the importance of this. In most instances service users did not experience a service which had been planned systematically by Family Court Advisers; case planning documents were not completed or were not comprehensive, for example. Most files had some case notes, although these were often illegible. Evidence of assessment, such as evidence of the Family Court Adviser weighing and analysing the evidence from interviews, was almost always absent from the case records. It was therefore not possible to understand how FCAs were making their judgements.

Haut de la Garenne

I have linked to the Community Care story. This picks up on the key message from the interviews by Lenny Harper reported by the BBC as Jersey murder inquiry 'unlikely' Community Care have correctly identified the issue that the remains of at least 5 children have been found concealed in a children's home. It is worth listening to Lenny Harper's interview on the BBC site as he explains the situation. The issue here, its links to the mainland and the attempts to cover it up are very live issues. As a director (with Stuart Syvret) of Justice for Families Ltd the first steps towards judicial review of the UK government's failure to ensure the application of the rule of law in Jersey have been taken. We are holding a conference call later today with the government to look at this issue.

Gas again

All the increases in gas prices are not necessarily going to ensure that gas is available during winter. It will, of course, as usual, depend upon the weather. The design of the UK gas market is reliant on a relative abundance of supply. Obviously supply and demand will match, but only at the cost of destitute pensioners and "excess winter deaths".

July Oil Market Report

Accepting the unreliability of early figures June is thought to have produced 86.51 mbd of oil and burnt (or otherwise consumed) 86.2 mbd. This marginal surplus of production over demand is as expected resulting in a price reduction. Demand is probably being reduced further than the predictions as well.

Scottish MSbP Miscarriage of Justice

The link is to a story from Scotland that I am not aware of anything other than in the media. This is where children were forcibly adopted because of an allegation of MSbP. The 16 year old has now returned from her adoptive parents to her birth mother (much like the Tammy Coulter story). The problem with these stories is that the children, birth parents and adoptive parents suffer from a what starts with a miscarriage of justice.

SBS Trial Collapses

What concerns me about this trial is that tenuous medical evidence which is insufficient to convict was allowed to get to the stage of charging and prosecution. I suggested to the previous Attorney General that they needed some people in the CPS with scientific training to check the expert evidence. This as usual raises the question as to how much money has been made by the experts giving evidence. We really do need to be careful about having a system that rewards experts for the answer "guilty", but not the answer "innocent".

Results: Thursday 24th July 2008.

Boston BC, Coastal Con 344 (30.9; -1.6) Boston Bypass Independent Party 306 (27.5; -32.9) LD Ossy Snell 213 (19.1; +19.1) BNP 119 (10.7; +10.7) UKIP 88 (7.9; +0.7) Lab 44 (3.9; +3.9) Majority 38 Turnout 37.4% Con gain from Boston Bypass Independent Party Percentage change is since May 2007 City of Westminster LBC, Church Street Con 955 (53.6; +24.5) Lab 652 (36.6; -3.0) LD Martin Thompson 176 (9.9; -1.3) [Respect (0.0; -20.3)] Majority 303 Turnout 24.1% Con gain from Lab Percentage change is since May 2006 Derby City UA, Darley LD John-Paul Keane 1040 (35.8; -0.9) Con 976 (33.6; +4.1) Lab 695 (23.9; -1.0) Green 192 (6.6; -2.2) Majority 64 Turnout not known LD hold Percentage change is since May 2008 Downend and Bromley Heath PC, West LD Craig Whittaker 313 (75.1) Lab 104 (24.9) Majority 209 Turnout 28.1% LD gain from Lab Ipswich BC, Castle Hill Con 843 (64.3; +3.3) Lab 282 (21.5; +2.9) LD Nigel Cheeseman 186 (14.2; -0.4) [Green (0.0; -5.9)] Majority 561 Turnout 22.3% Con hold Percentag

Max Moseley and Privacy Law

What is interesting here is how law is being developed by the judges on the basis of an article of ECHR (Article 8). There are complex issues relating to Contempt of Court (Family Court Stuff), Privacy and Defamation that were discussed recently by the Policy Exchange. There needs to be a wider consideration as to where the boundary should lie as it is not entirely clear.

Eugene Sands and deportation

Here we have a 76 year old ex-US police officer who is living in the UK on his US pension (not on benefits) who made the mistake of not getting a proper visa when he came to the UK to bury his ex-wife and overstayed on his visa. He is now told that he will be deported and is not allowed to remain to tend his wife's grave.

Parental rows result in adoption proposal

The link is to The Times story today which essentially starts with a row between parents resulting in a proposal for a child to be adopted. This is the case where mum then went on the run with her son (age 8). Reading the article does anyone see in this sufficient cause for a child to be forcibly placed permanently with another family? Here is the judgment I don't think the reporting of the article skews the judgment. The question that has to be asked is where the actions of the state in this case have managed to benefit the child "S" or anyone else. It is entirely valid to ensure that a child's right of contact with both parents continue, but there is a serious question as to what extent the state should punish and maniuplate the child through the use of care proceedings. There are obviously other aspects to this case that are not in the judgment (and in this instance I am aware of other factors). Daniel Finkelstein's article (relevant to the comments section)

Mum commits suicide over threat of care proceedings

What is unusual about this story is that it has some publicity. There is anecdote, but not research about the number of suicides linked to care proceedings. It later emerged Mrs Bell feared her younger children, aged from nine to 15, would be taken away after she was arrested for an alleged assault. In her note she said she loved them all and would never forget them.


Derwentside DC, Castleside Ind 297 (82.3 +8.3) Con 64 (17.7 +3.7) Lab [0.0 –12.0] Majority 233 Turnout 27.49 Ind hold Percentage change is from 2007 Hillingdon LBC, Townfield Lab 1031(45.3 –12.6) LD R Chamdal 506 (22.2 +8.7) Con 445 (19.6 –9.0) BNP 186 (8.2 +8.2) National Front 74 (3.3 +3.3) Green 33 (1.5 +1.5) Majority 525 Turnout Not known Lab hold Percentage change is from 2006 Redditch BC, Batchley Con 630 (39.00 –12.4) Lab 539 (33.4 –4.3) BNP 299 (18.5 +18.5) LD R Patrick Taylor 121 (7.5 –3.4) Ind 25 (1.5 +1.5) Majority 91 Turnout 27.59 Con gain Lab Percentage change is from 2008 Wealden DC, Uckfield New Town LD C J Sweetland 311 (47.4 –16.0) Con 289 (44.1 +7.5) UKIP 56 (8.5 +8.5) Majority 22 Turnout 31.77 LD hold Percentage change is from 2007 Worcestershire CC, Arrow Valley East Con 1437 (42.2 +9.9) Lab 1041 (30.6 –15.8) LD D Thomas 455 (13.4 –7.9) BNP 367 (10.8 +10.8) Ind 103 (3.0 +3.0) Majority 396 Turnout 19.76 Con gain Lab Percentage change is from 2005

Ben Haslam and the Laming Report Changes

The link is to a story about an autistic child in Bedfordshire. What is interesting about this story is the interrelationship between potentially care proceedings (although having seen the video they talk about S20 which is not a care order) and the activities of the Local Education Authority. It has been argued that the care system is being made to act in the interests of the LEA as a result of the reorganisation of the care system to place Childrens Social Services in with Education as Childrens Services. I don't know enough about this particular case to make any judgment. I am, however, concerned about the over use of care proceedings in relation to children with ADHD and whose condition lies in the Aspergers Spectrum. Interestingly this also relates to the close of an LA special school. The agenda of so called "inclusion" is clearly causing exclusion for some children. Perhaps in this case we should be questioning the closure of the special school rather than tryi

Government's Forecast Oil Prices

The government have responded to my question about Oil Price Contingency Planning. They have a BERR Page with forecast oil prices. Extracting from that table the following prices in USD per blue barrel for each year and assumption are: Year Low Central High "High High" 2007 73 73 73 73 2010 45 65 85 107 2015 45 68 90 150 They dont "feel the need to build contingency plans specifically for peak oil". Well we already are above "high high".

Children sent from England to Jersey then lost

The link is to the story about HDLG in the News of the World. Extracting a bit from the article: A SHOCK secret police report into the Jersey House of Hell children's home reveals youngsters there WERE murdered then BURNED in a furnace to COVER UP the atrocities. Kids were shipped to the home from all over the UK and were never heard of again. What concerns me is the lack of interest of the UK Government in trying to track down which children have been sent to Jersey. I have done an FOI request of all English Childrens Authorities. However, they have mainly only done a cursory glance at the situation. In Birmingham I arranged for the Internal Audit Department to track payments to Jersey and from that identify the children sent there. The government's hopeless response is that you need a court order to send a child to Jersey. They should be instructing Childrens Services Authorities to perform a thorough study. Too many children are "lost" by Childrens Services.

Justice for Families in The Times

It was nice to read the Leader in The Times Today which is linked and has the headline "Justice for Families". This includes: A large number of readers have told The Times this week that they have been denied access to papers that they need to mount an appeal. The systematic raising of difficulties to prevent parents from appealing is one of the aspects of the system that I have particular concerns about. This leaves parents at the mercy of a single judge. Normally a particular family is reserved to a particular judge and if that judge takes a dislike to them they have no chance. Normally the excuse used by their own solicitors for not giving them a copy of their own file is "they need the papers to get paid by the LSC." That does not, of course, prevent them from providing a copy of the file. It is, however, shocking how difficult it is to get both the judgment and the case files. Even if you get there papers get strangely lost in the Court of Appeal time

LG By-Election Results, Thursday 10th July 2008

Caerphilly UA, Risca West Lab 636 (56.0 +5.6) PC 315 (27.8 +0.3) Con 137 (12.1 –10.0) LD Mark Maguire 47 (4.1 +4.1) Majority 321 Turnout 27.9 Lab hold Percentage change is from 2008 Canterbury DC, Barton LD Michael Steed 993 (51.8 +9.3) Con 701 (36.6 +2.7) Green 121 (6.3 +6.3) Ind 102 (5.3 –0.7) Lab [0.0 –8.9] Ind [0.0 -8.7] Majority 292 Turnout 33.0 LD hold Percentage change is from 2007 Ceredigion UA, Aberystwyth, Rheidol PC 271 (40.2 +13.0) LD Alec Dauncey 252 (37.4 –30.2) Ind 98 (14.5 +14.5) Lab 36 (5.3 +5.3) Con 17 (2.5 –2.7) Majority 19 Turnout Not Known PC gain LD Percentage change is from 2008 Chichester DC, Bury Con 431 (69.3 +14.0) LD David Hares 191 (30.7 +30.7) Ind [0.0 –44.7] Majority 240 Turnout 34.43 Con hold Percentage change is from 2007 Great Yarmouth BC, Bradwell South & Hopton Con 623 (50.0 +2.0) Lab 429 (34.4 +15.2) UKIP 196 (15.7 +5.3) LD [0.0 –22.5] Majority 194 Turnout 24.86 Con hold Percentage change is from 2008 Kirklees MBC, Dalton Lab 1397 (40.5 +10.0) L

Family justice: your word against theirs

The link is to Camilla Cavendish's article today about the problems with the psychobabble in the Family Courts. One of the worst things I see is something saying "mum needs therapy ... but the therapy will take too long (1 year+) and so baby has to be adopted". It is a massive struggle swimming against this sort of nonsensicle treacle. That is why my considered advice to people is to consider emigration if they can to avoid this rubbishy decisionmaking system. In the mean time children die of starvation because Childrens Services are too busy with those mothers that need therapy.

Family courts: the hidden untouchables

The link is to today's article by Camilla Cavendish. I have, of course, a lot more evidence as to the problems in Public Family Law than she has. It does not, however, stop at Public Family Law. There are similar problems in Private Family Law. There are a small number of good family court judges (James Munby and Justice Ryder to quote two), but too many complacently agree to whatever is proposed by the authorities. At the same time parents are prevented from obtaining expert evidence to defend themselves and the Local Authority controls the experts' income. Conflict of interest or what!

Eat up your Chips says Gordon

Although I do think it is a worthwhile exercise trying to reduce food waste it is important to read the source reports. The estimate of 40% of food wasted subsequent to harvesting is substantially more than that which is wasted in the home. The main cause of food being wasted in the home is it being left on the plate. The largest proportion of any foodstuff being wasted is 9.7% and this is potatoes. That is, however, their calculation as to a proportion of food wasted. I am unsure about their estimates as to the proportion of foodstuffs bought that is wasted as it doesn't stack up. However, there is no benefit in auditing their figures as the objective of reducing food waste is laudable. Hence our PM is calling for people to "eat up their chips" - or moreso perhaps to put fewer on the plate. (The report is available here ) These are extracts from the report: UK households waste 6.7 million tonnes of food every year, around one third of the 21.7 million tonnes we purc

Warrior of Peace Judge proposed for Top Judge

Well there are quite a few possible meanings for Igor as a first name. There are those that come from the norse Ingwar (the Norse god Ing's warrior - Ing being god of peace and fertility), there are also those that say it is a derivation of George. However, to have a top Judge whose surname is "Judge" sounds quite apposite. He is called Sir Igor Judge. In any event he comes from the Criminal Division where they do have a commitment to justice which is good. I would be very worried if he came from the Family Division where budgets always seem to be more important than justice*. I recently saw a case where a husband was divorced without being told he was being divorced and it appears that the court decided that there was no problem with this. In any event the link is to the story in The Observer about the appointment of Lord Phillips' replacement as LCJ. I am not worried myself if there seems to be a consensus that a particular person should get the job. What matters is

Government Backlogs

The overcomplication of things combined with reduction in staff numbers is causing material backlogs both in assessing Pension Credits and paying Child Benefit. It is almost as if the government want to push as many people into financial crisis as possible. As usual, however, it is more likely to be incompetence.

Times launches campaign on Family Justice

On Monday the Times will launch a campaign on Family Justice at They say: I wanted to let you know that in Monday's Times, Camilla Cavendish will be starting a major campaign under the banner of Family Justice. The Times is calling for family courts to be more open, and for childcare professionals to be accountable for their decisions. The conclusion of her first article is: "To sever a child from its family without due cause is licensed state oppression of the worst kind. It is, in fact, child abuse." We're supporting the campaign online a) Running a survey to find people who have been involved with family courts and looking for clusters of concern. b) Encouraging readers to write letters to their MPs using an online form. c) Collecting useful links for parents and grandparents I'd be grateful if you could link to the campaign homepage, and encourage your readers / members to get involved:

Results: Thursday 3rd July 2008.

Barking and Dagenham LBC, Chadwell Heath Con 842 (37.4; +7.5) Lab 691 (30.7; -7.0) BNP 564 (25.1; +25.1) UKIP 142 (6.3; -6.9) Ind 11 (0.5; -18.7) Majority 151 Turnout 33.2% Con gain from Lab Percentage change is since May 2006 Bexley LBC, Christchurch Con 1192 (47.8; -16.1) LD Oliver Brooks 459 (18.4; +3.5) BNP 431 (17.3; +17.3) Lab 411 (16.5; -4.8) Majority 733 Turnout 29.6% Con hold Percentage change is since May 2006 Corsham TC, Corsham LD Isabel Langsford 676 (45.1) Con 399 (26.6) Ind 172/147/16 (11.5) BNP 119 (7.9) Lab 92 (6.1) Majority 277 Turnout 43.2% LD gain from Ind Derbyshire CC, Eckington Lab 824 (35.9; -15.3) Con 658 (28.6; +11.0) Ind 300 (13.1; +4.1) BNP 253 (11.0; +11.0) Ind 150 (6.5; -1.7) LD Frank Higgins 113 (4.9; -9.1) Majority 166 Turnout 26.6% Lab hold Percentage change is since May 2005 East Grinstead TC, Ashplats Con 666 (55.0) LD Tim Wise 489 (40.4) Green 56 (4.6) Majority 177 Turnout 30.3 Con gain from LD Havering LBC, South Hornchurch Ind 661/17 (27.2; +8.1) B

Common Assessment Framework

The following are recent press stories. What is unclear is to what extent they are anecdotal stories about things that are not more common or whether in fact these cases are now more common. I am getting concerns from practitioners that the Common Assessment Framework is making things harder. Although we no longer have adoption targets, that does not mean that the system has stopped making decisions that are false positives (acting when it shouldn't) or false negatives (failing to act when it should). The people who have the statistics on these issues (the government) have been preventing me from getting the access I used to have. 27/6/8 Mother jailed baby left unsupervised died drugs overdose 27/6/8 Jailed Mother left son flooded kitchen spent weekend partying 28/6/8 Mother jailed 12 years leaving porcelain doll daughter starve death beetle infested room

Possible gas price increase of 10% in France

For people used to the massive increases in the UK the fact that France faces only a 10% increase gives pause for thought. The problem is that our system essentially prices all gas at the marginal price rather than the marginal consumption. I don't think this is a sustainable mechanism in an era of increasing constraints on supply.

Grandfather gets contact with grandson in foster care

It should not seem so revolutionary that a grandfather should win an appeal in the court of appeal. However, it is. The first problem for grandparents is to get into the family court to be able to argue their case. The courts resist this in cases that I am aware of and the system makes it very difficult. The only reason why the grandfather got contact in this instance was that the practitioners agreed that he should. To that extent it does not create any rights for grandparents. The Court of Appeal overrode the judge's refusal of contact on the basis that no-one was objecting and hence he shouldn't have refused it.