Do we make unnecessary use of care proceedings?

This is a post by Sarah Phillimore.

This is the text of a talk I gave at the Bristol Civil Justice Centre on April 15th 2019 as part of a debate entitled ‘We make unnecessary use of care proceedings’. 

The situation regarding care proceedings in England and Wales is dire. There are various reports and worries about the ever increasing number of care proceedings with no corresponding increase in identification of those children who actually suffer harm. The worry from many is that we have created a voracious and possibly unstoppable  ‘risk monster’

EDIT – that line should read ‘ever increasing number of section 47 investigations’ rather than care proceedings. 

Various senior Judges have warned that the family justice system is close to collapse and cannot sustain this continuing increase in numbers of applications for care orders.

Much of the discussion on and off line from parents and some professionals is in very bleak terms about the sustainability of the system and the harm that it does to those who come within it.  Richard Devine commented on Twitter in March 2019:

Sometimes I wonder, in 50 years time, what aspect of the current child protection system will, with retrospection, seem incomprehensible, unethical, absurd?

The answer came swiftly from one Twitter user:

Most of it. Its harms to health, mental health and human well being will be evident and regrettable.

This is a fairly typical exchange. So I can immediately see and understand that the easy and obvious answer to this question is ‘yes’. But, as ever, I think the answer is a more complicated than the question poses at face value. And that’s why I wanted to speak against this motion. Not because I have any naive hopes that my mere rhetoric will sway anyone from their decided view. But in the hopes that you might at least listen and think about some of what I say.

All care proceedings involve failure.

All care proceedings involve failure. It is a failure of at least one of the following 3 things; the very worst cases are a failure of all 3.

  • A failure by parents to reach ‘good enough’ standard in their parenting, a failure so serious that it either causes their children significant harm or puts them at serious risk of the same. The degree of blame to be attached to this can vary from ‘none at all’ for those parents with disabilities who did their best, to a very high level of culpability which finds the parent also facing criminal proceedings, for example due to sexual assault or deliberate infliction of physical harm
  • A failure by social workers or other professionals to build a relationship pf trust with a parent who is struggling. Or worse than that, professionals who operate from untested assumption and prejudice. Or worse still, professionals who actively mislead by altering documents or lying to the court. I hope that latter example is a very small minority but I accept that even one case a year is one too many
  • A failure by the State to provide any sufficient safety net for parents and professionals who are struggling. A failure to provide and maintain support for those with poor housing, mental health struggles etc. A failure to provide safe working environments for professionals, allowing case loads to rise beyond what is sustainable or safe.

Once the case then comes to court, The court system itself often fails to deliver what we know is needed. The procedure is often not quick, efficient or humane. This puts at risk the need to have the right decisions made on the right evidence, which in turn puts in peril the child’s need to have the right placement and the right support identified and provided.  Parents are left behind at the end of it, confused, miserable and alone with no further legal support to challenge a decision they may feel is profoundly wrong.

The whole system is predicated on failures. Some of those failures are a shameful indictment of the way our society operates. Other failures are simply a reflection of the inherent frailty of human beings. We could only eradicate those types of failures by going down a road of eugenics and social engineering which only a fanatical and dangerous few would ever advocate.

Because a system ‘fails’ does that make it unnecessary?

I would like to conduct a quick and unscientific poll.

Children are vulnerable. Not all parents can be good enough parents. This isn’t about moral blame. Its about asking hard questions about what we, collectively, agree we should do to protect the most vulnerable members of our society.

  • Who in this room thinks that children aren’t at risk of death or serious harm from their parents? Raise your hand.  31 children under 16 were killed by their parents in England and Wales in 2015 – three a month – compared with 23 in 2014. 
  • Of course, deliberate murder is thankfully rare. But who in this room thinks that the State should step in to protect only those children at risk of being murdered? Raise your hand.
  • Who in this room thinks that the State should step in to protect only those children at risk of having their bones broken? Raise your hand.
  • Who in this room believes that from the age, say of 0-12 years only a parent can have any authority over the education and health care received by their child? Raise your hand. 

Unless ALL or NONE of the hands go up in answer to the last 3 questions, then we have to accept that there is room for disagreement about exactly where the line should be drawn – but the one thing I think we would all agree with – there is a line, somewhere.

EDIT – NO hands were raised. On reflection, it would have been more interesting to ask a question about the more nebulous aspects of threshold, such as emotional abuse. But it was clear that all in the room agreed that children need protection from dangerous parenting. 

The journalist Louise Tickle visited Dublin recently and discussed her visit on her Open Family Court website. She made the point that the importance of the family is set out explicitly in the Irish Constitution

 

This is reflected in many other international and domestic laws and practices. But it cuts both ways doesn’t it? If you are expecting the State to step in and defend the family as a ‘necessary basis’ of social order and ‘indispensable’ to the welfare of an entire nation, then presumably the State must have something to say about those individuals who threaten the sanctity of the family by harming members of it?

Its interesting to note what else Louise Tickle observed. One of the benefits of Ireland’s Child Care Law Reporting Project was that not only did it act to permit scrutiny of state action in interfering with families, it also allowed the public to see just how bad things could get for children

McKittrick also believes that reporting has raised society’s awareness of and sensitivity to child abuse. “Our perception is that the general public have had no idea of the level of misery that these children experience, and we can’t talk about it,” she said.

Conclusions

So no, I don’t believe that we make ‘unnecessary’ use of care proceedings. I do however think that the outcome of these proceedings is moving ever further away from what was hoped for by those who framed the Children Act. We have essentially betrayed the legacy of the Children Act 1989 by removing funding for the support services so essential to its proper operation.

As Professor Jo Delahunty QC commented after her recent lecture to commemorate its 30th birthday

The lack of financial support for community resources [and the] the rise in [applications under] s 31, they are linked. Hence the value in reminding the audience of how the Act was meant to cover community as well as court procedures with access to services, advice and support being embraced within its composite parts . However with limited legal aid for pre proceedings advice for parents , S 20 abuses , legal aid deserts for early (any!) advice in private law , court staff / judges acting as advisors and counsellors and lack of court time as we have judges working to break point: all these deficits are crippling.

Community lack of access to services and legal advice compounds an overwhelmed and overwhelming social care environment staffed by disrespected social workers , often unsupported , and inadequate managerial oversight with little joined up thinking with legal departments. I think every strand is intertwined.

Hence why I thought a reminder of what we should strive at might be timely.

Further reading

Thread of live tweets from the night #FCDebate

Children Act ‘betrayed’ in climate of cuts 16th April 2019 Community Care

You never lose the fear of the knock on the door April 2019 Tortoise Media

Care Proceedings in England: The Case for Clear Blue Water March 2019 Isabelle Trowler

 

 

30 thoughts on “Do we make unnecessary use of care proceedings?

  1. Pingback: Children Act 'betrayed' in climate of cuts, top family barrister says

  2. Pingback: #State v #Family #ChildProtection #Safeguarding #Credibility #Privatisation Dysfunctional #SocialWork #CorporateParent #ChildCommodification #JudicialRubberStamping 30 years on: #ChildrenAct1989 betrayed? Unnecessary use of #CareProceedings? | | truthahol

  3. Angelo Granda

    A Parent’s View.

    I do hope all readers will listen to what I say ,hear it and face the reality I am trying to get over. I feel we have to recognise some very basic truths to answer the question :-
    ‘Do we make unnecessary use of care proceedings?’
    The post-writer is well respected by all and makes the following points with which I agree.

    All care proceedings involve failure. often a failure of all four of the following:-

    1.Parents.
    2.Social Workers and other professionals.
    3.The State.
    4.The Court system.

    I repeat, the writer has made the points about failure and I agree with her.

    However ,it seems to me Sarah has omitted to examine the part played by the main protagonist and instigator of care-proceedings. The Local Authority concerned is the party which applies for Court Orders through it’s Director of Social Services with the legal assistance of it’s City or Borough solicitor. It needs care-orders issued in order to procure children into care. In my humble view, until we understand that is the main (but illegitimate) aim of the L.A’s when it brings care-proceedings, then everything else falls into place.All is explained. When they bring care-proceedings ( especially in a closed court), the L.A.’s and their solicitors have succeeded , they haven’t failed! Their hard work is set to bring fruit. More children in the care system. I suggest they even endeavour to keep children in care rather than get them adopted. All of it is done for political reasons .They have their policy imperatives and the parents,SW’s, other professionals,the State and the Courts are simply barriers to be overcome.
    We have to accept that the main failure of the four identified by the post-writer lies in being unable to protect children from THE L.A’s. not from ‘risk of future significant harm’ from family.
    As I said before when we start to see things from a different angle,all falls into place. Care orders are success to the transgressors not failure. It explains why they break the law so often,why they fail to present the true facts and take children hastily ,why they traumatise them and all else.The children are procured against their human rights not in their own interests but in the best interests of the applicant which are to benefit foster -care agencies and residential care-homes etc.

    All comments welcome.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Thank you for reading and taking time to comment but I just don’t understand why you claim that LAs simply desire to get children in to care rather than adopted and this is as a result of ‘policy imperatives’. Gov policy over many years has been a push to adopt. A frequent complaint of mine is that the LA waits too long to issue proceedings, rather than they do so too quickly. So I am afraid I just don’t agree with that point you are making.

      Reply
    2. Bridget Doman

      Based on my own experiences some years ago, along with what I know of other people’s experiences and stories, it is clear that SS generally instigate care proceedings for a number of reasons, unfortunately very rarely legitimate ones. If they have to lie, make false claims against parents of neglect for example or fabricate evidence, with help from other ‘professionals’ – as is often the case I discovered – to obtain a care order then that care order is invalid. This is why there has been an increase in the number of care orders on their own applied for – taking kids into care unnecessarily in this way is extremely lucrative except for the poor council tax payers who are unknowingly funding such action. It is about time it stopped before they ruin any more lives.

      Reply
  4. Angelo Granda

    From my reading of the current state of affairs and the ‘vision for change’ the State officials are trying to encourage adoption as the golden option when a Court has decided that the circumstances are so dire that nothing else will do. Despite care-proceedings and removals into care having rocketed out of control and despite their being 75000 children currently in the care system at great cost to the public purse ( another why the State prefers adoption) and despite an increase in placement for adoption orders, adoption rates have not increased exponentially in line with what might be expected.
    This suggests LA’s are dragging their feet and working against adoption for political reasons of their own in some areas. Has anyone ever noticed how difficult they make it for prospective adoptive parents to pass the ‘suitability’ test? Also has anyone noticed how they target autistic and other special needs children who they know are unlikely to get adopted? I agree i can’t prove my suspicions but ……………

    Reply
    1. Mark C

      Hi Angelo,

      Your post seems a bit confused. Adoption isn’t “the golden option” – it is only chosen in certain circumstances – ie when there seems little chance of the birth parents turning their lives around enough to care for their children, when there are no other relatives who could care for the child instead and if adoption seems likely to succeed for the child (ie if they are young enough to be able to form a bond with their new parents). When my cousin’s children were taken into care, two were in their erly teens and one was a baby. The baby was adopted and the two older girls went into foster care so they could still have frequent contact with their mother/extended family.

      Of the 75K children in care, around 5% (around 3000) are waiting to be adopted. And the courts don’t decide this. The social workers decide and then have to prove to the court that they have gone through the necessary steps and explored other options before making that decision. Sometimes the court will disagree.

      As I said above, older children wouldn’t be put forward for adoption, or there might be cases where the parents ask the child to be taken into care because they are ill/disabled and they can’t cope, or their child is disabled and hard to care for. My friend with a severely autistic son is currently sadly pondering his future as soon he will be too big and strong for her to be able to control him. It would be ridiculous for him to be placed for adoption as he would still need lots of contact with his parents.

      I was (successfully) assessed to adopt and know others who have too. It isn’t exactly difficult, but its quite a lengthy and thorough process and so it should be – the children placed for adoption have already faced loss and disruption to their lives and deserveot be placed with people who have thought long and hard about whether they can cope and who are likely to be able to offer a good home. Recently the rules have been tightened up to make it quicker and less protracted. Adoption agencies want ot find good prospective parents and want them to succeed

      I don’t know why you think LA’s would want to decide that a child needs adopting and then secretly plot to make it impossible for them to be adopted? why wouldn’t they just ask to put them in long term foster care in the first place?

      and I have no idea what you mean about children with special needs being “targeted”

      Reply
      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        Thanks Mark, some good points. I would also like to know what is meant by children with special needs being ‘targeted’

        Reply
      2. Angelo Granda

        Thanks for the comment , Mark C, i agree with Sarah that you make some very good points. Readers should take note,if my comment above confused them, in the ‘vision for change’, as I said the Government officials are trying to encourage adoption when ‘nothing else will do’.
        It wants more adoptions when the Court decides that the situation is so dire that the children concerned cannot be placed with natural parents or extended natural family.
        This applies to thousands of children on permanence plans in residential homes and long-term foster-care. The Government wants more effort to be put into getting these children adopted.
        You are right,Mark,it is confusing . I would like to make it clear that I empathise with the difficulties SW’s face. However, there is plenty evidence that the child-protection system is unfit for purpose and that the management prefer children in their care-system than either with parents or with adoptive parents. The management appear to have illegitimate aims.
        The Public no longer trust the system and clearly, the Government aren’t satisfied either which is why they have called for radical changes to management strategies and front line practices.
        The LA’s should really concentrate their minds and sort things out. Maybe they might start by raising the age limits and try harder to place older children for adoption.
        We need to get the numbers of children in care down but they are constantly rising and the system is about to collapse.
        Please, give us some good news if you can.
        There are several posts on the internet about autistic and special needs children and they tell in much detail of how these children are targeted for removal. One SW remarked that the autistic were ‘money-trees ‘ for LA’s. I suggest you take a look at research on the subject by the University of East Anglia .
        There are many useful references on the CPR too if readers will look back.

        Reply
      3. Bridget Doman

        It might not be a very good idea to base what you believe regarding this issue on your own experiences/situation to justify adoption etc – there might have been good reason for such action in your family but sadly that is rarely the case. Many babies are removed from parents/mothers who have done nothing wrong and are not incompetent but might simply need help and support to keep their child. SS have targets to meet regarding adoption and are extremely adept at making false claims against these parents/mothers to reach them. I am a member of several Facebook groups relevant to this and have read some extremely heartbreaking stories. One friend had 3 children, the two younger ones taken for adoption but the 7 year old returned to his parents. Very questionable I would say. Great the boy was returned to his parents but wrong that the other two were wrenched from their family and put with strangers. I wonder how all these children will feel when they are older and find out the truth, not the ‘truth’ the social workers (and adopters who the sws invariably lie to) want them to believe but the actual truth.

        Reply
        1. Mark C

          I’m not just basing everything on my own situation. I’m basing it on the cases of other children I read about, and other children who I know who’ve been adopted, and on my own family’s experiences of the care system (one relative had her three children taken into care after years of failing to deal with her drug use, violent relationships and criminal friends), and one who did use the support offered to stop her drinking and deal with her mental health problems and has raised her kids since birth)

          Unfortunately, even if a parent has done nothing wrong per se, they can still sometimes not be able to provide a safe environmnet for a child due to problems with drink, drugs, their mental health problems or domestic violence. I wish more could be done to support them but in many cases they don’t have a realistic insight into their problems and what they need to do to solve them and I don’t think it is fair for a child to be shunted around temporary foster placements for years on end until the parent eventually (if they ever do) does solve their problems.

          If social workers believe a child should be placed for adoption they have to go through a massive and lengthy process of assessing alternative options (including lookign for other family members) and then present this to a judge to make the final decision who will not always agree with them. Any process can give rise to errors or mistakes but I think that is more reliable than taking facebook messages at 100% face value.

          It is obvious to me that people aren’t always going to give a realistic and truthful account of what happened to lead up to such a devastating event as losing their children, for the sake of their own self esteem.

          Reply
  5. Angelo Granda

    P.S. Many folk disagree with forced adoption under any circumstances and I am one of them, particularly at birth when Mum’s are targeted for having been in care themselves.
    Too many children are removed into care without all the less invasive alternatives having been considered, let alone tried.
    That fact is manifestly clear.

    Reply
  6. Mark C

    I think you’ve misread the “vision for change” document. It doesn’t say that all children in care should be adopted. It says that children *for whom the plan is adoption* should be adopted more quickly with less time in temporary foster care and that there should be more and better support for adoptive families.

    It is simply not true that children *for whom the plan is long term foster care or residential care* are also considered for adoption – those are two completely separate plans for children and I already explained why they might be chosen instead of adoption (eg if the children are too old to fit into a new family, or if it’s expected there will be a lot of contact with birth family)

    The number of children waiting for adoption is a few thousand out of 75,000.

    I am sure many folk do disagree with forced adoption, but many folk have no idea of the levels of neglect and abuse suffered by the children who are taken into care. I have experience of child protection from both sides – as a prospective adoptor I was taught a lot about the problems children face after being neglected or abused and also read a number of child permanence files of children being placed for adoption. some of the stoies I read were hair raising and very distressing and will stay with me forever. In no case did I think the child had been unneccassirly taken and in many cases I wish they had been taken sooner.

    On the other side, two of my relatives had dealings with the care system as parents – one had her children taken into care (after too long a delay in my opinion) and the other turned her life round, managed to address her problems and now has 3 lovely children who have lived with her all their lives.

    And if a child is taken at birth it is because the mum-to-be has been referred to SWs by her doctor, health visitor, midwife, police or neighbours. How are they supposed to know she was in care herself?

    eg a pregnant woman was referred to SW after police intervened in a domestic violence case and found both parents had been drinking heavily and taking drugs. SW later found both also had mental health problems and learning difficulties. The mum was referred to a mother and baby unit so she could be supported after birth but was utterly unable to cope with the pressures of caring for a new born baby. It was only then that the baby was taken into care.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I agree with you Mark – particularly your comment about delay in LA taking action. Throughout my 20 years of work in this field i am more likely to be worried about a slow LA response than a fast one.

      Reply
  7. Angelo Granda

    Mark C, Thanks again for you contribution but i am afraid both you and Sarah misunderstand the facts.
    I do not misunderstand the ‘Vision for Change’.

    It is a fact , in my humble view, that the C.S. ,LA policy imperatives and the Family Court system are no longer fit for purpose. The spirit and the way professionals put the Children Act into practice must be changed radically as the Government has laid out. Wherever you come from, i suggest much of your dogma and your ideas of social care are outdated. Even most SW’s these days believe a completely fresh approach is required and that family preservation has to be the new clarion call. Professionals should get with it! We know many family support plans can be successful and those which aren’t must be improved upon.
    Family liquidation is never in the paramount interests of human beings.
    I agree with Sarah absolutely that support plans should be launched much earlier before the circumstances deteriorate beyond control. If the LA’s were to follow procedure strictly rather than delay interventions and fail to act on referrals as they do now, there would be much less need for court proceedings.

    Reply
  8. Angelo Granda

    QUOTE: I agree with you Mark – particularly your comment about delay in LA taking action. Throughout my 20 years of work in this field i am more likely to be worried about a slow LA response than a fast one : UNQUOTE.

    Once again, embarrassed to be taking issue with the CPR leader, I must do so . Instead of worrying more about slow or fast responses, we should be more concerned whether the response is a right one or a wrong one.

    Facts must be established first before taking any action at all. First and foremost ,the CORRECT response must be to establish the credibility of referrals and allegations by means of a competent,full investigation into the FACTS and circumstances of each individual case.
    It is of paramount importance to the welfare of children involved that a thorough ( not over-hasty) probe is carried out responsibly in accordance with legal guidelines and safeguards before any action is taken at all.
    To remove a child from home too quickly can be disastrous for him or her. Trauma follows by removal from natural family, as all research shows.

    I sense a distinct lack of humanity all round on the part of professionals and a lack of compassion towards children . Why should we want to subject them to trauma?
    I anticipate their response to that question will be to trot out the usual ‘child -rescue’ narrative. Yet I am afraid, that narrative lacks intelligence in itself.
    Emotionally and legally, how can the professionals possibly imagine they are rescuing children by taking them into a care-system which is proven to be neglectful ,exploitative and extremely unfit for purpose?
    The care system is riddled with predators and child-abuse. It is a monstrous myth that professionals are rescuing children. Once we get that clear and straight in our minds, perhaps things will improve.
    It isn’t only me denouncing the care-system, it’s culture has been found to be abusive and damaging to children by PUBLIC inquiries time and time again.

    Most of us believe in the WORKING TOGETHER , KEEPING TOGETHER principle . Those professionals who think children are better off in the care-system are deluded. Readers, don’t fall for false ideology,dogma and professional arrogance. Face the facts as promulgated OFFICIALLY by Public inquiries into the ‘culture’ of institutional care.
    Children should not be hastily placed into the position where the risk of significant harm is ten times worse, surely not.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Of course we need to be worried about whether or not a response is ‘right’. But a failure to take action over a long period of time, with mounting concerns is 100% always wrong.

      Reply
      1. Angelo Granda

        Yes ,Sarah,the response should be the right one and it should be in line with the Children Act ( proportionate).
        Failure to respond in a timely manner with mounting ‘concerns’ is wrong. Effective support plans should be put into action much earlier, I agree.
        Children should not be separated from family hastily on any account because of the ‘risk of harm’ in the care system.
        Actually, I think it would be a good thing if family support and monitoring was in place as a matter of normal course universally as a part of everyday family life. I do believe it would be in the spirit of the Children Act.It should be available to all without a need to meet threshold criteria of any kind and should be on tap to all.
        How could it be done, though? That is up to the care-professionals and it would require radical changes to front-line practices …….

        I have made a few amateur suggestions but I don’t want to go over them again here. It would take too long .

        Suffice to say that the whole care system needs reforming, in my view. Readers, take a look at this post which was written by another parent who contributes to this resource:-

        https://childprotectionresource.online/?s=shame

        Reply
    2. Mark C

      Of course it is traumatic for a child to be removed from a family home – that is why it is only supposed to happen if it is worse for the child to remain in the family home. If it happens quickly it is because the child is in immediate danger or at immediate risk. And of course, if the child can be placed with another relative instead of being put in foster care then they are, and if the situation can be resolved and the child can be returned home then they are.

      There have been plenty of public inquiries into abusive treatment of children in care in historic cases and these lead to changes in the law re safeguarding, DBS checks etc. Do you have any up to date statistics to support your claim that there is “ten times” greater risk of significant harm in care?

      Reply
  9. J Pentateuch

    It is not the system. It is about callous dehumanized social workers and local authority solicitors with perverse thoughts and feelings, who want to enforce their will and their ideology on parents. They abuse the Children Act wanting to control, discipline and re-educate parents in favor of their destructive ideology of parenting and education. They want to retaliate against parents, who refuse to submit to the violations of their human rights. They are often deeply sexist and they get very nasty when fathers fight back and do not submit. Allegations against a father is proof of evidence in their intolerant, distorted and confused minds. Wolverhampton City Council’s children service employs 111 females and 23 males. They intimidate the mother threatening her she shall not get back her mixed race child unless she submits to the authorities. They force the child and the mother to lie about the father and to give false evidence in order to portray and discredit the father as violent, controlling, abusive and coercive to prove significant future emotional harm. They intimidate and put the mother and wife under pressure to split the family until she separates from the father. Once she has separated, they praise her that she has made progress in the understanding and care of her child and has left the father. They try to split and destroy families. They are the banality of evil. Anybody remembers the “rivers of blood” of Enoch Powell’s historical speech in Wolverhampton?
    A mother, who has always cared well for her child, is forced by them to throw herself into the mud and deny her human dignity. And what is the worst: there appears to be a conspiracy by the family’s solici-tors on legal aid, the local family judge and the local authority against the family. They can’t pay GBP 250,00/hr for a legal representative, who is serious about defending the parents human rights.
    It is not the system. Too many of the people involved are morally and intellectually corrupt.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I do not think you can so cleanly distinguish between the ‘people’ and the ‘system’. I agree there is a problem with some social workers in their attitudes to some parents. Equally I think some parents are in denial about the harm they do to their children and themselves by attitudes of aggression etc.

      I entirely deny there is a ‘conspiracy’ between judges, social workers and lawyers ‘against the family’. This is descending into quite dangerous conspiracy theory territory. The risks of that, is for the people who embrace whole heartedly such theories, that their language and allegations become ever more fantastical and it makes it very easy for others to dismiss them. Which is a shame because of course, in almost every conspiracy theory is a kernel of truth and regarding the child protection system, I think that kernel of truth does arise in terms of the lack of decent relationships between parents and social workers.

      Reply
      1. Angelo Granda

        No-one can say with any certainty there is any secret ,top-level conspiracy. Theories are just theories.
        However, there is clear evidence that ,even when respondent parents prove in the Family Court that L.A ‘s have ignored legal guidelines and safeguards, have taken children into care unlawfully ,given false evidence etc. that judges and lawyers contrive not to place the LA’S contempt of court process anywhere near to the top of the agenda. Yes,criminal actions on the part of the authorities are COVERED-UP. Unlike when parents are guilty ,the LA is not made accountable for its transgressions.

        Reply
  10. Angelo Granda

    J.Pentateuch………….. I am an ordinary parent , not a SW nor a family proceedings lawyer.
    Welcome to the CPR . I appreciate your comment and look forward to more. I agree with parts of it and disagree with it in others as I am sure you will appreciate. We all have our own points of view and as long as they are put over fairly, the moderator is willing for us to put them.

    I don’t disagree with much of what you say but i do think my own analysis of the ‘child-protection’ system ( something of a misnomer,see my other comments) is correct.
    1. It IS the system. If social workers and L.A. solicitors act callously and perversely against the spirit of the Children Act, they do so because of the general policy directives handed down to them by the L.A. which wants to enforce its own will and ideology on the Public. Many front line SW’s and lawyers are well-meaning but because they are not independent members of the system, they are unable to perform their true functions within it.

    To me, that is a systemic failure!

    Many senior social workers recognise it and point to political interference as a major problem they face.
    Thus my view has to be that it is the L.A. , (the local politicians) which wants to control and re-educate citizens against their human rights and contrary to the Children Act. The differing policies in child-protection around the country
    are probably explained by the needs and wants of diverse local politicians and diverse political areas; some are rising in prosperity and others still suffering from the lack of job opportunities.
    I agree they are driven by elements of sexism. I also think there are elements of ethnic discrimination. However ,I also think the main discriminatory factor is whether a family is of the lower classes . The need to repress the working classes is of major concern to politicians. There is a need to control and condition ( educate) citizens in order to supply the local labour markets. To ensure cheap labour, they have to have a poor working class.A prosperous working class does not please them; it reduces their profits.

    I do not ignore what you have written about sexism ,racism and intimidation in the Wolverhampton area. Many areas are treated likewise.I agree that they do want to split and destroy certain families. That these families are targeted is a FACT and their disabilities, unsuitability or downright refusal to participate in the work market form the criteria for interventions ( see the needy families programme and others).

    You refer to moral and intellectual corruption but don’t forget the professionals you refer to are infected by false ideology . They are not necessarily evil and corrupt in themselves. They actually believe the dogma they put into action. It is dogma tirelessly spread by the authorities they act for. Throughout history, when human rights have been abused , the perpetrators have always cited ‘social conscience’ as their reason. For example, Mussolini talked of it. So do politicians in general. Human Rights Law means nothing to them !
    I agree with your point about legal funding and lawyers. Alas, i think that is also political policy. The question,to me, is does the judiciary have the power to enforce justice or not? Justice depends on fair proceedings and currently they aren’t fair. Many lawyers agree they aren’t. Can they overrule politicians ?
    Then we have two types of politician. There are some who want change ( see their ‘vision for change’) and some who prefer to maintain the status quo.
    We have to face reality . We know the system isn’t fit for purpose. Most of us want change.
    The system represents long-running ,persistent failure. The official views ( including the statistics) are designed to reinforce the belief that the primary role of Social Services is to improve the lot of vulnerable children and the enforcement of good parenting. This would be a noble,legitimate aim but ,in the view of many, such claims are essentially a myth. Indeed it is belied by those studies which
    demonstrate problems are becoming increasingly acute. The system is out of control and family liquidations are rocketing. There is no improvement, matters get worse! Support plans and the monitoring of families constitute a very small minority of C.S. social work, most of the budget is spent on institutional care homes and/or foster-care costs.

    This FACT should not be denied any longer. We should not, cannot deny the undeniable.How do we know it is a fact?

    Answer: we would expect to be able to identify major examples of positive
    progress and improvement .
    Very few of us can. We see mainly negative opinion from parents,from front-line social workers,from the high courts and from almost everyone else across the whole spectrum which includes adoptive parents and foster-carers, doctors and most others involved.
    The LA’s alone seek to maintain the general myth!

    Sorry for the length of this screed, readers.Hope it helps in some way.

    Reply
  11. Angelo Granda

    QUOTE: It is about callous dehumanized social workers and local authority solicitors with perverse thoughts and feelings, who want to enforce their will and their ideology on parents. They abuse the Children Act wanting to control, discipline and re-educate parents in favor of their destructive ideology of parenting and education. They want to retaliate against parents, who refuse to submit to the violations of their human rights: UNQUOTE.

    QUOTE: regarding the child protection system, I think that kernel of truth does arise in terms of the lack of decent relationships between parents and social workers: UNQUOTE

    First quote from J.Pentateuch, the second from Sarah.

    I want to put a bit more context into this discussion. In the main, I agree with both views and want to explain the realities more clearly to readers.

    Firstly, we all appear to agree that most if not all of the failures in child-protection are down to political policy imperatives . Maggie Melons and many other social workers ( including at least one contributor to the CPR)
    have all talked about these . I have said that child-protection is a misnomer. The authorities are more interested in repressing and liquidating targeted families . I have pointed out just above that there does not seem to be any conspiracy ( I am no conspiracy theorist). Yet , the SW’s often submit dishonest assessments and reports in ‘secret’ courts and due to the level of bias and discretion allowed, they evade accountability.

    I have described how the relationship between SW’s and the L.A.’s is essentially a toxic one because the former have no independence as would befit members of their profession. This idea is backed up apparently when ISW’s are appointed to a case. Their assessments are often the antithesis of those previously submitted by the L.A.’s.

    Like soldiers on the frontline who kill civilians and take away their human rights in other ways, rape and abduction, enslavement etc. SW’s have to obey orders! Even when it goes against the grain. Of course, after a while they do become corrupt and immune to the cruelty of their actions. They are acting as part of a system which makes it more acceptable and this absolves them from immediate accountability.

    Political imperatives take precedent over the LAW and normal humanitarian considerations not only in wartime but in domestic politics. In child-protection, LA’s
    issue orders and they must be obeyed preferably without question by professionals.
    This often means sexism, ethnic prejudice and last but not least class discrimination. Vulnerable families are targeted especially those on benefits. This will include many single parent families and mainly it will be lone Mums.

    Let us turn to other situations where the domestic political imperatives of L.A.’s take precedence over human rights law. The LA’s also control the Police .We have local Constabularies. We know ,and well-trained lawyers also know, that Police forces were formed mainly as a tool to enable the political classes to effectively repress dissenters ,mainly the poor, disillusioned and exploited. Whilst the Police also have a duty to uphold the law, issuing parking tickets and crime-prevention is not and never has been their main function. They were formed as a means of oppression and they also have to obey orders. Human Rights are abused regularly by Police following political policy imperatives.

    One or two examples . Police usually act legitimately but in certain political situations, there is plenty evidence that they act in secret, dishonestly and without any accountability. They have to obey their political masters. This is true when squads of them pile into the Public ,indiscriminately assaulting innocents both male and female protestors and/or demonstrators with truncheons, trample them underfoot with their horses and so on. All sorts of inhumanity is allowed to pass, ‘kettling’, stopping freedom of speech and all kinds of abuse occurs without accountability.

    So, can readers see that the L.A.’s have a toxic connection with the Police?

    I don’t think it can be denied. Those who will accept it ,should then consider the connection between the Police and the C.S. They work together. As a team, they bypass genuine investigations and the use of criminal courts in preference to the use of unregulated SW risk assessment and inferior,closed, civil law proceedings.

    Lord Mumby ,in the High Court , prescribed that Child Protection proceedings are to be conducted openly and honestly and he laid down rules. I would say this does not happen and our citizen’s rights are overruled due to political policy imperatives some of which transcend the law ,apparently. It is entirely up to the Judiciary to put the authorities to the test and stop it all.

    Readers, I am not inventing narratives, I am discussing well-known facts . As Sarah says, it is easy for professionals to dismiss arguments when they are expressed in ‘fantastical’ terms but those i have used are realistic. Even women’s rights campaigners suffered human rights abuse in the 20th century .
    Don’t forget Greenham Common either!

    Reply
    1. Angelo Granda

      MORE DISCUSSION

      Most Social Workers are not repressive personally by nature ( at least on their at graduation and initial appointment) but it has to be said the C.S. as an organisation is not deserving of support as defenders of a universal consensus on the public good. What they defend depends on the concrete situation in which they work and the degree of control, through ideology or power, by the Local Authority over them.
      One phrase often used in child-protection circles is ‘damned if we do, damned if we don’t’. From their perspective , of course, that rings quite true. They are in a position where they have to decide whether they act in the public interests or those of their employers. However, what other conflicts are there ? There is also a solid nexus between the CS ,the police, education authorities and the state-controlled health services.
      As a consequence there can be little doubt that SW’s see themselves as having a duty to the ‘policing’ of targeted families referred to them who are already ‘stigmatised’ fairly or unfairly by the Police and the others mentioned. Thus their priorities are seen as a need to ‘control’ their targets with the emphasis on assistentialism in the form not of social work following public concensus laid out in the statute but of extreme, penal-type sanctions and family liquidation . Families and communities are not the paramount consideration. The Local Authority powers that be control them with policy imperatives where Public spending is the overriding political factor. Market forces tend to prevail. Local politics has, historically , by the role of the grey-suits (male and business dominated quangos) always tended to by-pass democratic structures.

      Primarily, those targeted are the THE INDIGENT not the average citizen of whom millions are poor. Not all receive benefits and have disabled children etc. Poverty is not the issue. No genuine effort to solve the root causes of indigence is made. I don’t believe SW’s understand what it is, let alone how to deal with it. Carceral – assistential solutions such as those which can be enforced in the criminal system, reform and probation, therapy ,moral guidance and example are denied to citizens who are ‘sad not bad’.

      Family support and keeping children with natural parents in line with the Children Act comes a poor second to spending with care-homes and fostering agencies. The widespread misuse of ‘discretionary’ powers by all concerned i.e. SW’s, L.A’s, police, magistrates in the early stages of an intervention followed soon after by lower court judges when endorsing the various disproportionate care-plans also allow for the inhumanities suffered by children and parents. A culture of vigilantism exists in child-protection circles and a strict compliance with legal guidelines and the law is often not enforced.

      For those professionals tired of critique, persevere .It is constructive and necessary to mend failing systems,as Churchill pointed out.

      All comments welcome , especial ideas for change.

      Reply
  12. Angelo Granda

    Looking back again at the quote from J.Pentateuch, the most important bit is this.

    ——–‘ social workers and local authority solicitors with perverse thoughts and feelings, who want to enforce their will and their ideology on parents. They abuse the Children Act.’———-
    It is absolutely true! These awful people are perverse and they abuse the law.How? They examine various data they hold which is often false and malicious anyway and they use it to construct theories and invent false evidence to justify the procurement of children into the hands of the LA care system. They are indeed thoroughly DISHONEST and they indeed do not act OPENLY by involving parents or by mediation through independent advocates as demanded by Lord Mumby and the law.
    Here is an example of perversity. It may be said in an anonymous report to Police that a Mum was thought to be drunk. Without any factual evidence of it, it will be exaggerated out of all proportion and stories will be invented. There will be talk of foetal alchohol syndrome, Mum’s children having severe learning difficulties,Mum having a personality disorder and so on and it will all be on the strength of a false report. Assessments will be based on theories . There will be not a word of any of the various difficulties in medical or other independent reports but it makes no difference to them or the Courts. The LA’s and the Guardian’s word means more to the Judge.

    Readers, take another look at Sarah’s comment as well.

    ———– ‘ for the people who embrace whole heartedly such theories, that their language and allegations become ever more fantastical and it makes it very easy for others to dismiss them. Which is a shame because of course, in almost every conspiracy theory is a kernel of truth and regarding the child protection system, I think that kernel of truth does arise in terms of the lack of decent relationships between parents and social workers ‘————–

    Those words apply absolutely to the L.A. evidence. It would be easy to dismiss it were the Courts themselves not so preconditioned to accept hearsay evidence as happily as they do. Unfortunately ,when the Family Court makes it’s summary judgment, pure inventions are then deemed to be FACTS for ever more.The LA’s and Guardians put GARBAGE IN and the Court throws GARBAGE OUT.

    Reply
  13. Angelo Granda

    As I have tried to describe above , the L.A’s are the ones who bring Public Law cases to Family Courts unnecessarily and it is not to help children ( or families) The cases are brought to achieve their own policy imperatives and that the orders come from above is supported by this comment which appeared on this resource in 2018. I am sure the writer,Andrew Smith , will allow it to be used as testimony in any public inquiry or discussions.

    QUOTE: Prior to my baby being taken and adopted our core social worker made a surprise visit to our home one evening to deliver damning news that an order of instruction had been received from higher authority and could not be contested. Out of a hard earned respect for us the worker pre notified us we were in critical imminent danger from the local authority.
    This would serve to indicate that the removal of my child was state sponsored.
    Court cases are therefore a foregone conclusion that no representation on either side will influence any decision……..: UNQUOTE

    Andrew has not used ‘fantastical’ language but nevertheless ,i feel pretty certain his claim would be given short shrift in the Family Court .The lawyers and Judge would just dismiss it. I imagine the SW in question who might testify as to its truth has disappeared from the scene and would not be called. The lawyers would not have the time to demand copies of all LA directives and even if the Court had the time to order the disclosure of relevant documents and paperwork, the L.A.’s are dishonest and would fail to disclose the one concerned. Or if they did,it will be altered to read something completely different.

    I repeat, the main problem is the failure to protect children from the L.A’s not from their parents.

    Reply

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