Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2013

The wrong children taken into care

This story in the Sunday Times looks at the evidence that the numbers of deaths from child abuse and neglect are not going down and possibly going up. That is at a time when more children are taken into care. It is important to remember that taking a child into care is supposed to be a measure to prevent significant harm. Hence if the numbers taken into care are going up, but it is having no effect on the most significant harm of death then a question should be asked as to whether the right things are being done. There always will be a financial need to limit the number of children taken into care. When Haringey were considering whether or not to take Peter Connolly into care they were under severe pressures. The fact is that there were children in care at the time in Haringey who were taken into care because their mother might say things to them that might undermine their self esteem. If those children were not in care there would have been space for Peter Connolly. It isn'

Jailing of Welsh Pensioners Revealed (Brian and Patricia Davies)

This is a story that resulted from a hearing in Court 45 at the RCJ (Royal Courts of Justice) yesterday. These are the sorts of imprisonments that have tended not to be revealed by the system, but are now more likely to be revealed. There was, in fact, one similar to this which was revealed earlier this year. However, it does appear that the judges are now starting to follow the rules which has to be positive. As to the underlying case it depends in part on how frail the pensioners are as to whether this is or is not an appropriate action to take. I was contacted recently by someone representing a group of people who have left the country to get away from the biased procedures (Lashin v Russia) that operate in England and Wales. I hope to see this reported in some way (even if it is only on my web log) in the future. I am not sure myself whether this will produce the result that the system is trying to get. However, it is only when there is a pattern of such cases that it beco

Secret Imprisonments and the RCJ press office

What we know (and was reported by PA) is that at a hearing which started at 9.30am in Court 35 in the RCJ Theis J committed a woman to jail. On 2nd August Sir James Munby the President of the Family Division sent out a circular which clarified the practice directions of May and June. The circular is Here in a PDF form, but this is what it said. From: President of FD  Sent: 02 August 2013 11:02  To: ZZ RCJ Family High Court Judges; ZZ DFJs; ZZHMCTS Justices Clerks; Arbuthnot,  District Judge  Subject: PRESIDENT'S CIRCULAR - COMMITTALS  Dear All,  You will recall the Guidance on Committals issued by the LCJ and me on 3 May 2013 and the  supplemental Guidance I issued on 4 June 2013. In relation to the latter may I remind you of  paragraph 5.  A question has arisen as to whether paragraph 6 of the original Guidance applies in all  committal cases or only in cases to which paragraphs 4 and 5 apply.  Paragraph 6 applies in EVERY case in which a committal order or a su

Today's protest about the conditions of student finance

There was a protest today where students came as part of a "day of action" about student finance. The first point I would make is that although this occupation was better behaved than the previous occupation it still disrupted the business of my office. The business of my office involves solving problems for constituents. Hence it is not fair to my constituents. There are limits to protest. Violent protests are not acceptable. The occupation was generally well behaved, but there was an attempt to push past me into my office. (I was holding the door shut) That actually is the use of violence even though I have told the police that I do not wish to take this further. The issue they were raising about the certainty of the arrangement of finance is a very important principle. It is important that when students commit to a financial arrangement that this is stuck to by government. It is governed by a number of statutory instruments. One if SI 2012/1309 The Education (S

Parliamentary Petition from Interpreter working in Family Courts

This is a link to a petition from a translator working in the family courts. It states: The Petition of an interpreter working in England, Declares that the interpreter works in family court proceedings translating for families who speak Czech and Slovak. She has been shocked at the way in which a judge was partial in proceedings and the evidence that was accepted which would never be accepted anywhere else in courts. There was a social worker who was interrogated by both sides who was asked whether the grandmother behaved appropriately with her daughter in the contact centre and the social worker said “yes she did”. The next question was whether she would behave appropriately in her own house. The social worker said that she could not say that she would and hence the court decided not to place the child with the grandmother. Furthermore the grandparents were criticised for approaching the media in England. In a second case the family had signed documentation that they did not un

English Refugees find refuge in Belgium with Belgian Family

The Family I have interviewed below are one of many families to have left the UK to avoid the forced adoption industry. What is unusual about this particular family is that a Belgian family have offered to look after them as refugees because the Belgians are opposed to the way in which the English system works. I have interviewed both the mother and father and the mother and father with whom they are staying.

Lodgers, Boarders, Non-Dependents and payments for Spare Rooms

The issues here are complex and I will try to explain them accurately (using the figures for 2013-14), but it is always worthwhile checking things out as to precise details. There has been considerable debate about the change in policy so that tenants in Social Housing have to pay for any spare rooms in the same way that tenants in Private Rented properties have to pay the extra rent for a spare room. The difference in Social Housing is that the rent is subsidised and housing benefit pays all of the rent apart from the spare room. In Private Rented rents are higher and if the rent without a spare room is greater than the lowest 3 in ten properties in the area then housing benefit is limited to that amount. In a home (flat or house) there is the basic household which could be a single person or couple with or without dependent children. However, at times there might be "non-dependents" in the household. Those are normally adult children who have grown up, but not left t

F v F [2013] EWHC 2683 (Fam) MMR Vaccination Case

This case is the one the fuss has been about over the weekend. It is where a court had decided that an 11 and 15 year old should get the MMR vaccination when they and their mother oppose this and the father wants it. Personally I am supportive of the MMR vaccination and think it is appropriate for my own children. However, I do have some difficulties with the approach of the court particularly in respect of a 15 year old girl. This falls into the questions of Gillick competence and the like. If you have a toddler or an older child who has no strong views then that is one approach. However, if you have a child who is 15 I feel uncomfortable about forcing a decision on that child. The courts do seem too willing to impose a judicial decision on people who are from a capacity perspective competent. Before the recess I assisted a young man with Muscular Dystrophy in resisting such an imposition. However, I do think there are issues about the extent to which people's decisions

A Belgian Social Worker's View on the situation in England (in French)

Que se passe-t-il donc en Angleterre au niveau des services sociaux de protection de l’enfance ? Par :  – Octobre 2013. La situation anglaise n’est en rien comparable avec le fonctionnement dans les services sociaux belges francophones ou avec un certain nombre d’autres pays d’Europe. Les services sociaux anglais sont bien-sur fonctionnels et compétents. Mais, ils posent aussi question. Nous allons tenter de cerner par quelques exemples et quelques points le dysfonctionnement. Nous nous référerons notamment aux articles et 3 reportages de Florence Bellone sur la RTBF [1] à son témoignage écrit au parlement anglais [2]  ; mais aussi à des sites officiels, des études et des articles de journaux anglais et encore au seul reportage télévisuel que j’ai trouvé sur le sujet et qui fut diffusé par canal plus [3] . Mise en question par l’exemple : Vous avez un compagnon qui devient violent. Vous osez finalement le quitter et passer

Linden Homes Sod Cutting in Sheldon

There are a number of reasons why this is good for the area. There is the general economic issue that involves people having jobs. Then there are additional houses and in particular some rented houses at reasonable rents (from Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust). Perhaps 20 houses will be available by May 2014 and the remaining 80 finished in 2015.

Twenty Police sent to arrest baby

This video is a video of a mother and baby being taken away somewhere in Somerset. No-one involved seems to understand what the law is. The police officers refer to a "police protection order". What they are actually doing is using Section 46 of the Children Act where the police have powers to take children into police protection. For the purposes of this Act, a child with respect to whom a constable has exercised his powers under this section is referred to as having been taken into police protection. At times this power is abused by the local authority childrens services. They tell the police a child is at risk and the police go and arrest the child. The danger for the mother is that she only has a roughly 20% chance of getting her baby back. (whether she goes to the hospital with the baby or not). Most likely what should have happened is that the local authority should have applied for an emergency protection order. That is a better system because because it g

Demonstrator Banned from using Council Toilets

Here's the letter:

Serious Case Review on Keanu Williams

The serious case review on Keanu Williams was published earlier today. To a great extent the recommendations are the same as previous serious case reviews. I quote below on key recommendations from this report and the one from March 2009 (which dealt with a very similar case). From Serious Case Review 8 dated 14th March 2009 (8 pages long) When a child is presented to the Accident and Emergency Department there is a great need to challenge the history of an injury and any inconsistencies relating to that history as part of sound clinical skills in analysing paediatric injuries. There is great importance in using discussions with seniors as a forum for challenging opinions of juniors. These discussions must be documented. There is a need for greater awareness of safeguarding procedures particularly around referral to Children’s Social Care. Second opinions should be sought in equivocal cases, where the need for referral to child protection services is uncertain. There is importan

ISPs and content filtering databases

I wrote an article published in PC Pro which explained why the technical approach to content filtering is one which should cause concern. The essence of the article is that it is wrong to have a centralised database which records everyone's content preferences and that this information should be stored in the domestic router (as some routers do). As it currently stands the four largest ISP's all offer systems which use a centralised database. The following are the comments that I have from each of the ISPs. Virgin Media said: We're in the process of transitioning from our existing device-based parental controls solution, to a new, DNS network-based solution. By the end of 2014 all new and existing customers will be given the choice of whether to implement these new controls. Through a robust, two-step verification process, we will ensure it is only the adult account holder who makes the decision on whether to apply the filters. Our new solution is applied at a hous