Tag Archives: adoption targets

The woeful state of our debate about child protection, Part II: Hemming and the Latvian case

John Hemmings address to the Press Conference in Riga, Latvia.

On 31st August John Hemming uploaded onto YouTube a video.

I mentioned this on Twitter and expressed the hope the Latvian authorities are getting information from sources other than this. John Hemming has asked me to explain why I am concerned with what he says in his video.

What’s my problem? Summary

What’s wrong with this video? In general, to conduct the debate about the child protection system in this way, using inflammatory language, offering assertions as fact, displaying confirmation bias throughout and simply ignoring anything which might not support your argument simply underlines for me the very sad fact that the state of debate about our child protection system is woeful. It is embarrassing that we cannot do better.

It is all the more tragic because John Hemming does make some good points. He is right to point out that until recently LA were NOT aware of their obligations to inform other States that their citizens were facing care proceedings and the removal of their children. But that has been addressed and dealt with.  John Hemming should get credit for making a fuss about that, because it is important.

However, whatever good he has managed to do has, in my opinion, over many years been sadly submerged under a pile of ill informed and inflammatory assertions.  This does not promote debate or aid greater understanding or help children. Rather it drives proper debate further underground and the children are left to suffer in a system which is arguably not fit for purpose. 

If he is going to set himself up as an expert advising the Latvian authorities, I hope he will take the time to explain further to them his role as a ‘champion’ against the child protection system, and in particular his links with Ian Josephs and the ‘mums on the run’ network. 

I think the Latvian authorities ought to be fully informed about the background and activities of someone who proposing to ‘assist’ them in actions against another State. It is then a matter for the Latvian authorities whether they think they will be helped or hindered. For my part, I would urge them to act with extreme caution before accepting uncritically John Hemming’s views of the child protection system.

Particular problems.

It’s about a 5 minute video. This is what he says just 31 seconds in:

The Government sets targets to destroy families.

Why frame your argument in this way, right at the outset? Is this kind of inflammatory language remotely helpful in promoting debate and understanding between two States? Is this really what he thinks is the purpose of the child protection system in England? If that is what he really thinks, does he accept that he is going to need to provide some pretty clear evidence in support of such an astonishing allegation?

At 36 sections he says that the LAs act wherever possible to remove children from their families’ Again, an inflammatory statement which is not a reflection certainly of the current law that makes it crystal clear that adoption is the option of last resort.

He references a recent case which I won’t identify here as it seems that the whole purpose of this video is to encourage the Latvian authorities to put pressure on the Supreme Court to consider an appeal in this case. An interesting way to mount a legal challenge, using ‘interesting’ in the sense of ‘utterly inappropriate’.

He makes particular assertions about the state of the evidence in this case, claiming that the only real independent evidence was a core assessment, which was ignored because the SW Managers put pressure on to get another child to meet their adoption targets. It will be interesting to see what the Supreme Court make of this assertion.

He refers to statistics which show that ‘obviously’ a LA was biased because they have targets to increase adoptions ‘year on year’. Is he going to discuss with the Latvian authorities the efforts made by the Transparency Project to unpick and analyse his statistics? It clearly is not as obvious as he would wish to maintain that the Merton KPIs are irrefutable proof of a Government set target to ‘destroy families’.

I don’t disagree that the current ‘push’ for adoption is concerning – and I note this particular blog post with serious concern – but after years of searching, I haven’t been able to find clear or indeed any proof that the Government is setting out to ‘destroy families’. There are obviously problems in the system which we need to deal with urgently – but deliberate, malign targets of destruction are not one of those problems. See the ‘Forced Adoption’ post for further discussion.

The more time we waste posturing about issues which don’t exist then the less time we have to deal with the problems that clearly do. What does John Hemming have to say for example about the clear and stark regional differences about rates of children taken into care? The Merton rates are tiny; about 12 children a year are adopted or subject to a SGO. You are much more likely to be taken into care if you are a child in Blackpool. Why is this? Why isn’t John Hemming interested in this?

Could it be, a cynical voice inside me utters, that it is just more ‘exciting’ to set oneself up as an advisor to the Latvian government and enjoy the accolades that attach to such campaigning, rather than actually care about and do something about the depressing and mundane realities of inequality in our society? Not as much press interest in the latter I suspect.

The debate at the Transparency Project is here. John Hemming has been asked a number of questions about his statistics which at the time of writing he has failed to answer. I am particularly interested in his assertion that he has statistics from 1995 which will prove that there are ever increasing numbers of young children being taken into care and subsequently adopted. I would like to see this evidence.



As Claire Fenton Glynn commented on Twitter about John Hemming’s video.

Claire Fenton-Glynn ‏@CFentonGlynn
@SVPhillimore A number of fundamental errors of reasoning. There are definitely flaws in English system but this clouds productive debate.

Please. We simply have to do better. We are educated adults. We are surely capable of a debate that reflects all the nuance and complexity of the current problems we face.

I have to believe that but at the moment I am seeing precious little to reassure me from any source.

Are Bonuses paid to Social Workers?

If there are no targets to take children into care, then say so. What’s so hard about that? And if you won’t say so, why not?

The issue of ‘adoption targets’ and bonuses paid to social workers has for some years now been a feature of the intense feelings of distrust and dislike many feel for professionals in this sector. 

We have discussed the issue of ‘adoption targets’ in another post and how it seems that targets set up to speed up finding homes for children in care have been interpreted as pushing social workers to focus on younger, more ‘adoptable’ children in order to improve how they hit these targets. We have argued that the statistics don’t seem to support this but that there is a lack of transparency around this issue which doesn’t aid understanding. 


And what does ‘performance’ mean?

Sarah Phillimore writes:

It was always my understanding that social workers were paid a salary – nothing more, nothing less – and that talk of them getting ‘bonuses’ was just more wild conspiracy theorising. There were proposals for a pilot scheme relating to bonus payments in 2009 with a view to rolling out the scheme nationally in 2013 but I don’t know what happened to that. This proposal met with sceptical comment from Community Care and as far as I am aware, it didn’t happen.

A FOI request in 2012 by Shelia Hersom produced this response about payment of bonuses to social workers. The response received did not seem to indicate that additional money was routinely paid to meet ‘targets’.

Social Workers do not receive any other specific non-monetary bonuses or
commissions. However, they may be entitled to a non-cash award, which
would be at the manager s discretion. Non-cash awards can potentially be
awarded to any KCC member of staff and are not exclusive to Social
Workers. Non-cash awards are awarded to individuals or teams as an
immediate recognition of extra effort or one-off successes. The value
of the non-cash award will not exceed £50 for an individual.

It seems that there are problems with both recruiting and retaining social workers and money additional to salary payments may be forthcoming to try and meet these problems:

Market premium payments are made to ensure the retention of experienced
caseholding Social Workers and to keep salary levels competitive within
the District DIAT, Children and Families and Disabled Children s teams in
addition to market premium payments made to Newly Qualified Social Workers
and Social Workers recruited from overseas.

One-off recruitment incentive payments are also made to Principal Social
Workers to encourage new staff to come to the Kent District and Disabled
Children s teams and to Newly Qualified Social Workers in order to offer
incentives similar to other local authorities.

The specific question was asked: ‘Question 9. Are there any targets for forced adoption? If yes please supply details?’  The answer was ‘no’. 

Then I was sent a link to this article in the Maidstone and Medway News on September 20th 2014. A council spokesperson said:

Children’s social work is one of the hardest and most demanding roles in the public sector and we need to attract and retain people with talent and experience. This is a nationwide issue, which is why we have to offer attractive incentives to ensure we get the best people we can looking after Kent’s vulnerable children.

Eligibility criteria apply to these payments, which are available to social workers, senior practitioners and team managers in district teams and disabled children’s service, and are dependent on performance.

This makes me very uneasy. Paying social workers bonuses for ‘performance’ immediately raises the question – just what exactly is involved in ‘performing’ well to attract such a bonus?

I have made a Freedom of Information Request to Kent Council asking them to specify how many social workers qualified for this bonus in 2014, how much they were paid and what are the details of such a scheme.

I will update with the response I get. I agree with what Andrew Pack says:

What I would say, for the ultra-cautious people, is that I would agree that the lack of transparency on ‘payments and adoption targets’ is deeply unhelpful and creates a genuine reason for people to feel sceptical, uncomfortable and unhappy. The absence of clarity and transparency is itself very shabby. It may or may not have distorted how many times adoption was recommended in final social work evidence, it may or may not have had an impact on individual people’s cases. At this point, we don’t have the evidence to draw a proper conclusion and that in itself is wrong. It creates at best, a fishy odour, and as we well know, “Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done”

Update – Kent Responds Oct 2014

Dear Ms Phillimore

Thank you for your request for information made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000, relating to bonus payments to social workers. I am pleased to provide the response below:

I would be grateful for information to answer the following questions: 

a) the total bonuses paid to social workers in 2014

The market premium/retention payments made to Social Workers for 2014 was £354,639.35

b) the total number of social workers who qualified for a bonus in 2014

262 Social Workers qualified for the market premium/retention payments

The information is for case-holding Social Workers (Social Worker – Newly Qualified, Social Worker and Senior Practitioner) within Specialist Children’s Services, receiving market premiums and recruitment premiums between 1st January and 25th September 2014.

c) disclosure of the scheme and performance targets that qualifies a social  worker for a bonus 

Additional Criteria for Market Premium Payment

Social Workers

  • carrying a full caseload
  • performance level – achieving or above
  • not subject to any formal ER process
  • working in post for a minimum of 4 months during the qualifying period, i.e. 01 June-30 November or 01 December-31 May (e.g. staff on sick leave for more than 2 months in that period would not qualify)
  • not on probation

Senior Practitioners and Team Managers

  • performance level – achieving or above
  • not subject to any formal ER process
  • working in post for a minimum of 4 months during the qualifying period, i.e. 01 June-30 November or 01 December-31 May (e.g. staff on sick leave for more than 2 months in that period would not qualify)
  • not on probation

But how much further forward does this take me, given that I still don’t know how ‘performance’ is defined?

Reference to ‘performance’  probably means reference to KPIs (key performance indicators), such as number of cases held or closed, number of s47 investigations done. But the lack of transparency does mean that parents from Kent would not be unreasonable to at least feel anxious that decisions on individual cases were taken in order to get the bonus.

I will edit again if I can get any further information.


EDIT – I reply to Kent

On 15th October 2014 I sent the following email:

Thanks for your speedy response to my original query. Is it possible to ask you to expand upon your answer or do I need to raise a fresh request?

I would be grateful if you were able to refer me to any document or written policy that can explain what is meant by ‘performance level – achieving or above’.

This is because many people appear to believe that social workers are financially rewarded for getting children adopted and  if that isn’t the case it would be useful to be able to demonstrate that this isn’t what these bonuses are about.


EDIT – Kent reply on 23rd October 2014. Lots of words but no information.

Thank you for your request for information made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000, relating to performance levels. I am pleased to provide the response below:

The reference to ‘Performance level – achieving or above’ in the response to your previous FOI request (copy attached) relates to the process (‘Total Contribution’) which Kent County Council (KCC) uses to measure individual performance throughout each year (April to March). A total contribution assessment takes into account all the elements of an individual’s performance during a work year: their day to day behaviours, the quality and impact of their skills and aptitudes in their job. It applies to all KCC employees employed on the Kent Scheme terms and conditions, including those on the Kent Scheme working in schools.

Further information on the Total Contribution process is set out in the attached guidebook.

So no help there in defining ‘performance’. So I turn to the guidebook.

The guidebook sets out the Four Key Elements of Total Contribution.

Assessment Category Elements
Objectives and Accountabilities
  • Delivery to Action Plan
  • Effectiveness in job role on a day to day basis
  • Targets
  • Quality Standards
  • Budget Control
  • Customer Feedback
  • Peer group/360 degree feedback
Values and behaviours
  • Continuously improving in terms of how the job is done
  • Demonstrating enhanced delivery through behaviour
  • Living our values and behaviours
Wider Contribution
  • Contributing to team,
  • Project work outside the normal job
  • Participation in KCC work activities not directly related to job role
Personal Development
  • Achievement of Development Plan
  • Application of Development
  • Attainment and use of required skills
  • Qualifications attained


What is that word I can see in the top right hand box? The ominous word ‘targets’

So what ‘targets’ do they mean? Back to the guidebook. They don’t seem to be identified – or rather, the individual employee has responsiblity for selecting their own ‘targets’.

    • Check and adjust your targets throughout the year according to developments at work. Your targets are dynamic and should reflect what you achieve throughout the year so they need to change when changes occur.
    • Make sure you get at least one opportunity, mid year, to talk about progress against your targets with your manager. Ideally 1:1 meetings, or supervision sessions will also help you keep a tab on your progress.
    • Ensure that the development needs you identified are put in to action.

Cash benefits get further mention:

Cash awards are intended to be used throughout the year to reward specific actions. They can also be considered as part of rewarding the overall Total Contribution but managers need to ensure that there is no double counting of an individual’s contribution and remind themselves of any recognition given or payments made earlier in the year. They should not be used as an alternative to making the proper TCP assessment or to supplement the corporately agreed performance or general award.

So what do I learn from 40 pages of rather dense management speak? That ‘targets’ are important in order to measure whether or not employees are performing sufficiently well to be rewarded on top of their salaries. I learn that these ‘targets’ are dynamic and ‘need to change when changes occur’. But there is no clarity as to what possible areas or achievements these ‘targets’ relate.

While I am grateful for Kent’s speedy response to my queries, I can’t help but be disappointed by the nature of their reply. It’s little wonder the proponents of the forced adoption debate gain so much traction when a simple question gets a 40 page booklet in reply, that is full of lovely words but very little information.

Remember my earlier question? … many people appear to believe that social workers are financially rewarded for getting children adopted and if that isn’t the case it would be useful to be able to demonstrate that this isn’t what these bonuses are about.

My question is unanswered and I am left with a growing sense of irritation and frustation – this debate is important.  The way the State intereferes in the lives of individuals has huge ramifications in so many areas. Due process matters. This is an unnecessarily opaque response to an important question.  We are all entitled to as much clarity and honesty as possible about what is done in our name, with our taxes. If there are no targets to take children into care, then say so. What’s so  hard about that? And if you won’t say so, why not?



‘Targets’ defined in 2012 FOI response

The 2012 FOI request lead to the provision of this information regarding  ‘targets’ that are used to monitor performance in Specialist Children’s Services and are reported at a District level on a monthly basis.  Information relating to performance is available at Social Worker level from which the performance of individual Social Workers can be measured.


Number of CAFs completed per 10,000 population under 18 58.9
Number of TAFs per 10,000 population under 18 67.7
Number of Referrals per 10,000 population under 18 533.1
NI 68 – Percentage of Referrals going on to Initial Assessment 65.0%
Number of Initial Assessments per 10,000 population under 18 415.4
Number of Core Assessments per 10,000 population under 18 170.6
Number of S47 Investigations per 10,000 population under 18 109.2
Percentage of S47 Investigations proceeding to Initial CP Conference 70.0%
Number of Initial CP Conferences per 10,000 population under 18 44.3
Number of CIN per 10,000 population under 18 (includes CP and LAC) 290.0
Numbers of Children with a CP Plan per 10,000 population under 18 40.0
Children looked after per 10,000 population aged under 18 47
Number of Looked After Children with a CP plan. 30
Numbers of Unallocated Cases for over 28 days (Business) 100
Percentage of TAFs held within one calendar month of CAF upload 70%
NI 59 – Percentage of IA’s for children’s social care carried out within 7 working days of referral 69.0%
Initial Assessments in progress outside of timescale 200
(NI 60) – Percentage of Core Assessments that were carried out within timescale 80.4%
Core Assessments in progress outside of timescale 100
NI 67 – Child protection cases which were reviewed within required timescales 97.9%
NI 66 – Looked after children cases which were reviewed within required timescales 94.6%
Percentage of Case File Audits judged adequate or better 85%
Percentage of open cases with Ethnicity recorded 95%
Percentage of Referrals where the Referrer is informed of the outcome 80%
Percentage of Children seen at Initial Assessment 90%
Percentage of Children seen at Core Assessment 90%
Percentage of Children seen at Section 47 enquiry 90%
Percentage of Children with a CP plan where all statutory visits are within timescale 90%
Percentage of Looked After Children where all statutory visits are within timescale 90%
Percentage of Looked After Children aged 5 to 16 with a Personal Education Plan (PEP) 95%
Participation at Looked After Children Reviews 95%
Children subject to a CP Plan not allocated to a Qualified Social Worker 0
Looked After Children not allocated to a Qualified Social Worker 5
Percentage of TAFs closed where outcomes achieved or closed to single agency support 90%
Percentage of TAFs closed because the case has escalated to Children’s Social Services 7%
Percentage of referrals with a previous referral within 3 months 6%
Percentage of referrals with a previous referral within 12 months 23.0%
NI 65 – Percentage of children becoming the subject of a CP Plan for a second or subsequent time 13.7%
NI 64 – Child Protection Plans lasting 2 years or more at the point of de-registration 6.0%
Percentage of Current CP Plans lasting 18 months or more 7.0%
NI 62 – LAC Placement Stability:  3 or more moves in the last 12 months 10.1%
NI 63 – LAC Placement Stability: Same placement for last 2 years 67.5%
LAC Dental and Health assessments held within required timescale 85.0%
Percentage of Children Adopted 11%
Percentage of caseholding posts unfilled (100% – QSW inc Agency Posts) 10%
Percentage of caseholding posts filled by agency staff (Agency Staff ÷ Establishment) 10%
Percentage of caseholding posts filled by Qualified Social Workers (QSW posts exc Agency ÷ Establishment) 90%
Average Caseloads of social workers in fieldwork teams 20



Further reading

You may be interested in these articles by Andrew Pack at the Transparency Project for more detailed consideration of whether it is possible that there is a financial motive or incentive driving care proceedings.

Response to Commentators #1

Our aims as a site

We want not only to provide useful and credible information to ALL those involved in the child protection system, but also to be part of the debate about what we can do to make our child protection system the best it can be.

That means we don’t want anyone to feel shut out of the debate or that we will censor or ignore their contributions.

However, we worry that for far too long, constructive debate has become hostage to a number of people who put forward extreme and unsupported allegations about the ‘evil’ and ‘corruption’ of an entire system.

We are going to try to strike a balance between welcoming debate and views that may not chime with our own and not becoming overwhelmed or overrun by hyperbolic conspiracy theorists.

It may take a while to see if we have that balance right. But in the spirit of welcoming debate we here provide a response to a number of points raised by commentator ‘Winston Smith’.

We are having discussions at the moment about the best way to deal with comments here that we feel are not helping: we agree with this very helpful article from Urban 75 about the kind of commentators we don’t want to encourage.

We think we will probably delete comments to various posts which we think are obvious trolling or attempts to push unsupported theories.

However, we will continue to collect them in Mythbusting and try to answer them. In that way, we can’t be accused or ignoring or censoring, but equally our attempts to debate and inform won’t be derailed by malice, ignorance or wild accusations made without any evidence in support.

This response is provided by Sarah Phillimore, a family barrister since 1999. If she has got anything wrong or there is anything you would like to add, please let us know.

I am going to respond to some of the recent comments of a Mr Winston Smith. Mr. Smith asserts:

Adoption targets

Unfortunately a major scandal erupted in 2008 when it was finally proved that Central Government were paying generous grants to each LA. to increase the numbers of children Forced Adopted each year. In many LA’s bonuses were also being paid to SW’s to secure Forced Adoptions.
I have the printout showing the sums paid, including the £1,025,000 paid to “Blogshire Council” , my own, and with which Elected Members still deny was happening and go white when I hold it under their noses.

They were known as Public Service Agreements and if you failed to meet your target by the end of the year you were financially penalised, not only on this, but across the board on the other 11 PSA’s.
So you had every incentive to prioritise the adoption of babies.

This appears to be the familiar territory of ‘adoption targets’ where the wish of successive governments to increase the number of children adopted from the care system led to targets and performance incentives to encourage LA to find permanent homes for children who may have spent many years in the care system.

This is of course very different from a system which sets ‘targets’ for the removal of babies because they are easier to adopt.

We don’t deny that most adopters would prefer to adopt a child who is as young as possible – hopefully the younger a child the less trauma he has already suffered and the more easily he  will become part of the adopter’s family.

But does this translate into LA taking babies for no good reason, because babies will be more easily adopted and this in turn will enable them to meet their ‘adoption targets’ ?

I don’t agree.  We have already dealt with this issue in our Mythbusters section but I think I should repeat the salient points here

  • Even though local authorities have targets to match children in their care with adoptive parents faster than before, in England the average age at adoption was three years and eight months at 31 March 2013.  Just 2% of children adopted in England in the year ending 31 March 2013 were under one year old
  • Only 6% of Looked After Children in England were under one year old at 31 March 2013.
  • It usually takes at least three months for adoptive parents to be matched with a child after they have been approved to be adopters (see column A12 in the Underlying Data spread sheet)

Although the amounts of money paid to local authorities who meet their targets for placing children in their care and for assessing adoptive parents can be large (see this official Written Answer from 3 September 2007 towards the bottom of this page) they do not exceed the cost of the proceedings.  For example, the largest payments in this table were made to Kent County Council, who received £2,156,583 over three years.  Information on the numbers of children placed for adoption by Kent County Council in 2005-2007 is not readily available, but more recent information suggests that the average number is 205 children per year (see the adoption scorecard for 2008-11 here).  Dividing £2,156,586 by 205 would give an average payment of £10,519.93 per child placed for adoption.  Even without details for the costs of all social workers involved in a case, plus legal representatives at court – usually for both the local authority and the family involved – plus court time, plus foster carers, it is clear that any money paid in the form of a bonus does not come close to covering the cost of removing a child from their family and placing them for adoption.



Since then subsidies have returned on a more indirect basis.

There has been TWO MSBP/FII/AIB Relaunches since, on a very similar basis to your site.

This has always been the focus of all of this.

Sadly I cannot respond to this as I don’t understand what it means, so I will need Mr. Smith to clarify.



Since the mothers are accused of “Munching” the kids and won’t “confess” they if under 5 are likely to end up being Forced Adopted as they cannot be returned home.

We agree that if a child is subject to care proceedings and is aged 5 or under, then adoption is much more likely to be considered as part of the final care plan than if the child was older. Simply, adoptions are less likely to succeed the older a child gets and once a child is over 7 it is unlikely that adoption will be a realistic option.

However, here Mr Smith appears to ignore all the other options that are routinely before the court in care proceedings such as Residence Orders or Special Guardian Orders to family members. The LA is under a statutory obligation to undertake kinship assessment.

Presumably Mr Smith must have access to some clear statistics to be able to assert confidently that those under 5 are ‘likely’ to be subject to ‘forced adoption’ and we would be grateful if he could share this information with us so we can consider it.


Since peoples’ “professional” theories are involved they have just gone on behaving in the same way and continued to try and prove their theories.

Ruralsocialworker, the last thing we need is yet another campaign which denies everything, of which there have been a number over the years.

I think this comment shows Mr. Smith has misunderstood the aims of this resource. We do not say and have never said that the system is perfect and that no mistakes are ever made. What we do say is that we do not accept that professionals routinely lie and collude to ensure that children are removed from loving homes for the purposes of meeting adoption targets.

We are keen to discuss new and better ways of operating, the only rule which we insist upon is that serious assertions require serious evidence.

If Mr. Smith truly believes we wish to be ‘another campaign which denies everything’ then he needs to have another look at the site and what we are trying to do. Hopefully then he will accept this criticism is untrue and unfair.


Meanwhile anew campaign has been created by the adoption agencies and members of the government ,also appointing Martin Nairey as Adoption ,and include bringing in the American “Fost-Adopt” system and reducing times to6 months. So we are back where we started.

Mr. Smith appears to be referring here to attempts to speed up adoption times for children in care and to make it less traumatic for children by encouraging their foster carers to adopt them. I think both are very good ideas. I do not see how this fits into an allegation that the State steals children for adoption. Rather they are examples of how the State is attempting, quite rightly, to improve outcomes for children already in the care system.


Children are taken into Care for silly reasons and in breach of procedures. Once there they will not be returned and dubious or provably inaccurate evidence concocted as the LA does not wish to be proved wrong.

I cannot and do not deny that mistakes are made and mistakes in this field can have very serious consequences. But none of us here, from a variety of perspectives within the system, accept such mistakes are routine or are made deliberately and maliciously in furtherance of some State plot to steal babies.

It is emphatically NOT my experience that children are taken into care for ‘silly reasons’. Again, assuming Mr. Smith has some statistical information to back up this assertion, we would like to see it. As far as we know, serious reasons are needed before a child can be taken away from his home – which is entirely as it should be.

I refer Mr. Smith to the legal section of our site and in particular our discussions of what is meant by ‘significant harm’. I  can find nothing ‘silly’ there.

I reject the assertion that evidence is routinely ‘concocted’ and again would request that Mr. Smith provide his evidence for this extremely serious assertion so that we can consider it.

In 15 years I have never come across deliberate concoction of evidence. Yes, I have seen sloppy evidence gathering and reporting, misunderstandings that became hardened into believed ‘facts’ and people making assumptions where they shouldn’t. It is my job to challenge that.

But deliberate falsification of evidence? Never. So either I am a stooge of the system and too stupid to notice when this is happening under my nose OR it doesn’t actually happen very often or at all.


The greatest area of corruption is the Expert Witness, in view of the huge sums being paid, and they repeatedly give diagnoses NHS or private clinic experts say do not exist.

Mr. Smith seems unaware of recent changes to public funding of expert witnesses. The sums paid on legal aid rates are very far from ‘huge’ and in fact the prevailing concern is now that we will lose the services of valuable expert witnesses as they won’t agree to be instructed on the new low rates.

I would urge Mr. Smith to read what the Legal Aid Agency are now saying about the remuneration of experts.

I don’t understand what he means by ‘repeatedly give diagnosis NHS or private clinic experts say do not exist’ and again I think that such a serious allegation requires some serious proof.


There is an almost 100% “Guilty” verdict in the Family Court

I accept that if care proceedings are brought, the most likely outcome is that a court will make a care or supervision order. Two conclusions can be reached from this:

  • Care proceedings are a farce and the conclusion is a rubber stamp; OR
  • Care proceedings are not bought lightly given the enormous expense and time they involve for cash strapped LA and only the most serous cases will go to court.

I support the latter conclusion.  Mainly because this fits exactly with my own experience over many years.  In fact, when I am critical of the way a LA has conducted a case, I can think of only a handful of cases where I felt they acted too quickly; the majority of my complaints are that they waited far too long before taking decisive action.


Basically we are into the same scenario as Cleveland, Satanic Abuse, Constructive Memory, MSBP, those cosmic megascandals all those years ago, where groups of true believers continued to doggedly defend them, even though disproved.

Here Mr. Smith refers to a number of ‘megascandals’ and appears to lump our site in with those ‘true believers’ who continue to doggedly defend the indefensible, even in the face of evidence.

I am  not quite sure what he means here and again, suspect he has misjudged or misunderstood the aims of this site.

I think this artice from Slate is interesting about the hysteria which surrounded the issue of child satanic abuse. It is a good example of the danger of proceeding to reach conclusions about extremely serious matters when your evidence is weak or even non existent.


However, regarding KinCarers , this statutary duty is regularly ignored by LA’s.

Admittedly grandparents maybe too old but other relatives are ignored.

Regularly aunties or sisters are advised to file for Residence Orders or SGO’s themselves. Uproar round at LAQ legal offices.

LA will go for Forced Adoption and only after a bitter battle with numerous court hearings agree to an SGO.

This isn’t my experience. Every case I do, when a family member puts themselves forward they are assessed – they have to be. It is the law. If the LA assessment is negative, the family member can come to court and argue their case or even seek permission for a further assessment. I was involved in a very recent case where the court agreed the maternal grandparents hadn’t been properly assessed and ordered a further report from an Independent Social Worker.


This includes busting the Placement Order in the CoA on Appeal.

I would like to respond to this but I don’t understand Mr Smith’s point.


These are usually either with the foster carer or a remote relative with either no contact or once every six months.

Again, I am going to need some statistics to back this up as it is very far from my own experience of the orders courts will make and the contact parents are likely to have.


LA’s and FD judges will move heaven and earth to prevent any child’s witness statements, prevent the Wishes and Feelings Pact being done, and prevent them being called as witnesses in violation of Practice Direction on Child Witnesses Dec 2010.

The children are kept isolated to prevent their view a being known and the are routinely obstructed from instructing their own solicitors if Gillick Competent.

Again, evidence please. This isn’t my experience. Courts are rightly worried about the impact of children becoming directly involved in court proceedings, particularly if it involves them giving evidence about the abuse they have suffered but to say ‘heaven and earth’ is moved to prevent them is nonsense.

I invite Mr. Smith to read the case of Re W in 2010 about the court’s approach to children giving evidence, which may assist his understanding.