Violence and the Family Courts

I am grateful for this post from ‘J’ who contacted the Transparency Project, wanting to share her experiences of going through the family courts and trying to deal with a violent ex partner. 

The Transparency Project will publish Guidance in the new year on the law and practice in such cases involving violent or allegedly violent parents who seek orders relating to their children. Please comment or contact me if you have a story you wish to share. The Transparency Project also hopes to organise a conference to launch its Guidance and discuss these issues. Is the family court really failing so badly the victims of violence and their children? And if so, what can we do about it? 

My Story

My experience started in 2014 when my violent ex applied to court for access to our child.
This was a man with 16 violent convictions, several against me and other partners.
I had managed to end the relationship in 2013. I got a non molestation against him, yet I was continually stalked & harassed by him to the extent that he was arrested and remanded in prison because of it.

I had rang the police 40+ times, 2 blue lights from Oct 2013 – Dec 2013.
He further harrassed me from prison with letters and was re arrested in prison due to that.
He was extremely violent to myself during the relationship and also my children.
He is diagnosed with 4 personality disorders back in 2008 ( unknown to me until court hearing started ).
Borderline personality disorder
Histronic personality disorder
Avoidant personality disorder
Paranoid personality disorder

Cafcass had several concerns regarding him and his violent history so the case was listed for fact finding hearing.
I was cross examined by a man that had tried to kick our child out of me at 10 weeks pregnant
He was extremely aggressive in the court constantly with the judge having him removed several times.
My barrister resigned from the case as he had threatened her also.
He was stabbed in broad daylight in the street half way through this case with a family I had proved to the judge he was fighting with constantly.
His lifestyle and violence was always present.

Yet the judge handled him with ” kid gloves ”
He only paid the fee for court £260.
Never paid another penny even though he was working.
He used my legal aid to get him through court ligitant in person .
As my legal team did all the court orders etc.
My police disclosure alone cost over £3000 funded by my legal aid ( that I contributed to until I had to move home for my safety & my living costs were highly increased ).
I was constantly called a whore & a slag in the court room in front of the judge yet all he got was a telling off.
Fact finding was in my favour as everything I had gone through we had documentation for from police etc.
But the court still said that he could have supervised access.

This put me and my child at further risk as the cafcass offices weren’t safe for me to attend I fought all the way to try stop any contact suggesting indirect contact, yet the history and indeed behaviour of this man in court and out didn’t seem important at all to the judge.
All I got was just because he’s violent don’t make him a bad father , something I strongly disagree with.
In August of this year he was arrested at the court by police for sending his 16 yr old daughter threatening messages.
The police sat in the courtroom with him.
Yet the judge seemed to not acknowledge this at all.

This was a man with extremely violent history trying to get access to a young child, yet was threatening his eldest daughter and nothing was said about it.

I have been to hell and back for 2 years having to face that man multiple times.

He would just email the court if something wasn’t going his way and then another hearing listed
I got out of the toxic relationship alive with my kids just to be thrown back into a extremely unsafe situation month in month out at the hands of the family courts.
I felt like a criminal sat in that court when all I was doing was trying to protect my child from a dangerous and violent man.

The system is flawed and it puts children at risk everyday

79 thoughts on “Violence and the Family Courts

  1. Sam

    Thank you to “J” . It is extremely important that this issue is explored as currently it appears that a significant minority of victims and their children are being further traumatised by the court process, despite the guidelines that judges are supposed to follow.

    Reply
    1. Angelo Granda

      My question:-

      Does the Family Court (Judge) have the power to stop all contact between a father ( no matter what the threat he presents) and his own child?

      I suggest it does not unless it removes the child from Mum too on the grounds she is unable to protect him or her.

      Even then , under a care-order, the Children’s Act appears to say supervised contact must be allowed in order to satisfy human rights.

      The only Court which can prevent a violent father from having any contact is the criminal court ( magIstrates or croen).

      The police public protection department often fails in its duty.Referring cases to LA’s in srious cases simply does not work.Stronger action is called for.
      In the case described above where a man is in Court under Police guard, a crominal coiut would have any number of orders it could issue if the evidence is there!

      All comments exploring this subject welcome.

      Reply
      1. helensparkles

        A family court can make an order about contact, whether it is to take place or not, or if it is to be indirect or direct. There is no automatic right to contact in terms of HR legislation, if someone is a risk, they are a risk. I have no idea what your comment about the police protection department means.

        Reply
  2. Sam

    Angelo

    “I suggest it does not unless it removes the child from Mum too on the grounds she is unable to protect him or her” Why please?

    Reply
    1. Angelo Granda

      The man in the above case,I suggest,should be charged ,if not with violence because of lack of evidence, at the very least with threatening and/or coercive and controlling behaviour.
      Exploring the situation, in a family court no one is actually charged with anything, the judge has to bear that in mind and also that the child has a right to contact with father.It can’t stop contact on hearsay,it has to consider facts only.
      From what I have seen, the CS address such situations by coercing Mums into signing a ‘letter of expectations’ that they keep Dad out of the family home etc and only allow supervised contact. Then,if she breaks the agreement,they go for a care-order and remove the child. They can’t (or won’t ) control the man and protect the child.
      Were he charged in a criminal court by the Police( Public Protection Department) , he could be dealt with by bail orders (pending the trial) ;imprisonment,suspended sentence,probation order,n.m.o3der etc etc.Anything to keep him away from Mum and her children.

      Reply
      1. helensparkles

        Unfortunately we can’t lock people up forever and orders have a similarly limited power, people can be arrested if they breach them, but they are often not reported.

        Reply
        1. Angelo Granda

          You can’t lock people up for ever except in the very worst cases of nurder etc but a criminal court can lock them up or put them on probation etc until he is reformed and until he accepts wrong-doing.
          We have discussed the Police PPD at length on another thread,Helen, if you remain at a loss,why not consult your friends with whom you liaise so closely. Next time, make them investigate properly.
          Now, are you saying you don’t know what an Lof E is?

          Reply
          1. helensparkles

            I am saying there are different kinds of letters of expectation and asking which kind and I have never called it an L of E.

            I think we agreed that the PPD was not actually called the PPD anywhere. If it is, please advise. I work with CAIU which is the child abuse investigation unit, they work with families where there are crimes involving children, other anreas have different acronyms. It would be odd if I called the police professionals I work with my friends, I don’t, at most I would call them colleagues. Friendship implies an unprofessional relationship. I can also assure you I have nothing to do with their investigations, the police investigate crimes for which they need sufficient evidence, it often isn’t there.

            Unfortunately you cannot lock people up or put them on probation until reformed. If you could I guess there would be no recidivism.

  3. Sam

    Yes Angelo, apart from as you know contact is very often stopped on hearsay. I think some LA’s do everything they can to wriggle around the law, perhaps the Court of Appeal needs to question the use of letters of expectations next, which are used to coerce naive parents.

    Reply
    1. helensparkles

      What do you mean by a letter of expectation? During contact? If you have a lawyer they should see this anyway – no need for anyone to be coerced but unfortunately often a need to protect children from the adult world during contact.

      Reply
      1. Sam

        No Helen I mean the widespread use of letters of expectation before thresholds are met, thus artificially controlling situations which are private matters.

        Reply
          1. helensparkles

            They fall within the statutory framework for safeguarding children, that is not a private matter.

    2. helensparkles

      You can’t discount here say I’m afraid, it doesn’t mean someone just made some stuff up, if they did they did it under oath. Heresay is evidence. It is up to a judge to decide what weight they give evidence, or if someone is lying, or trying to manipulate to alienate etc. If you relied on a criminal burden of proof I doubt you would protect very many children.

      I do agree that we give women the responsibility to separate from an abusive partner, to protect their child/ren, and that there needs to be a better way because those situations are very hard to leave for all kinds of complicated reasons.

      Reply
  4. Angelo Granda

    Sorry for calling the Police your friends.I really meant colleagues, of course. I don’t set out to be sarcastic.
    Sam, you must remember that Family Courts aren’t real courts at all in the strict sense of the word. They are merely professional tribunals.All the lawyers discuss the case together along with their colleagues ( the SW’s ) who is allowed to brief them and share information with them before the parties even go into Court. I have no doubt also the solicitors share gen with them.The only ones not part of the confabs are the respondents.
    As Helen says hearsay is admissible as evidence, true or not and ,by heck, don’t they use it to their advantage. The only trouble is the LA forget to investigate the true facts or make an attempt to check hearsay .They leave the facts out. They are not impartial.
    The Judges aren’t impartial either. They can’t be; they have to trust the LA and Guardian as a matter of proticol. I paid a flying visit to court this week and saw it all going on. Young girls leaving Court in tears etc etc.
    The trouble is, one can’t really blame the SW’s,I’m sure most are actually convinced they’re doing a good job.It’s the justice system to blame. We need proportionality. Civil Professional tribunals should not have such power!
    If Sarah is reading this, have you had any news about the mediation pre-proceedings conferences? Also, what percentage of cases go to final hearing without a barrister involved at all? I think it is happening more and more that the solicitors argue cases themselves.

    Reply
    1. helensparkles

      So family courts aren’t real courts, they just set out legally binding decisions based on evidence heard, no idea what makes that less real – please let me know. They are not civil professional tribunals whatever that means.

      You paint a picture of everyone being in cahoots with each other. All the information going into court is available to all parties to the case, SW are not briefing and discussing anything with their lawyers that isn’t available to everyone. Discussions do take place outside a courtroom between lawyers. SW tend to talk to their legal reps rather than lawyers per se.; they do after all have to instruct them. There are various reasons lawyers might need to talk to each other, and they may choose to discuss an aspect of the case, or their may be a document to draft. I have absolutely no idea why it would be a problem for them to talk to each other? Those discussions are of benefit to a family and if a parent (for example) doesn’t know what their lawyer is discussing or doesn’t understand they must ask until they do.

      I didn’t say that hearsay evidence is admissible true or not. I said that hearsay is still evidence and its importance shouldn’t be undermined by a lack of DNA or fingerprints or whatever kind of physical evidence you would prefer. Perhaps you could read what I actually said not just write whatever you would like to extrapolate from my words. I do investigate all of the evidence and I would only include what I think is most robust, but it isn’t a crime scene.

      I have said before here that the notion of sides is unhelpful to everyone. If change is needed to keep children safe, everyone knows exactly what that needs to look like, and everyone works towards making that happen in the child’s timescales not the adults. Most of the work SW do does not go anywhere near a court room, a large proportion of it doesn’t go anywhere near child protection. Lots of people get support and make changes with the help of their SW and even send texts to say thank you. I don’t know where being impartial fits into that for you. The best thing for a child is to stay with their family, as long as they are safe etc.

      Of course people leave court in tears, that doesn’t mean that person should have a child in their care unfortunately. I’ve looked after those people after court and it is distressing for everyone but it doesn’t mean children should carry on living with the toxic trio I so often encounter in CP cases.

      Judges criticise both Guardians and SW in court and I hope that you have read those judgements. It would be great if all judgements were published but those that have been are useful. There is no protocol of which you speak.

      “The trouble is, one can’t really blame the SW’s, I’m sure most are actually convinced they’re doing a good job. It’s the justice system to blame. We need proportionality.” This is just really patronising. Actually what I don’t do is blame the parents who have usually had a rubbish time and for most of whom whose children are removed have a very sad story. That doesn’t mean their children can remain at risk but it does mean there should be more support for them (which doesn’t need to be a SW!).

      Reply
      1. helensparkles

        Sorry lots of typos in there that should have said; If change is needed to keep children safe, everyone needs to know exactly what that needs to look like, and everyone works towards making that happen in the child’s timescales …

        Reply
  5. Angelo Granda

    Helen,thanks as always for your comments but please note that my comments are not based solely on what you write here.
    They are a parent’s comments based upon facts and experience.
    I am not patronising SW’s at all merely pointing out the truth.
    For example, I intervIewed a practising Solicitor at Court this last week . He agreed it may seem incongruous in a court of Law that SW’s ( who are not impartial and not lawyers) should sit in upon pre-proceedings legal discussions, but said it is common-practice for solicitors and SW’s to share information and exchange views. They are all professionals together and they respect one another as cp colleagues.They certainly take information imparted by SW’s as true and they arrange things on that basis.
    Obviously,in circumstances where they can discuss the respondent’s evidence themselves just before a hearing,they can adapt and alter their testament to suit the defence.
    This would never happen in a real court.
    It was explained to me that when the lawyers hold their discussions together, it is protpcol to do so.They decide between themselves what the probable outcome of the hearing will be ,decide themselves whether the respondent’s claims have any merit and they will take the SW’s ( professional) word above that of the parent.
    In other words,the professionals decide , as a group legal panel, which evidence to put before the Court. Generally,professional evidence is taken as read but not so that of the respondents.
    In respect of your last but one comment ,Helen. In my view what you say is not very professional at all. Parents ( and lawyers) rely on SW’s ti investigate impartially and sort out the wheat from the chaff, not to put unproven hearsay but to establish the facts.
    The Judge cannot do it, he or she hasn’t the time and the duty lies with the SW.
    The respondent parent cannot question it either. Why not? Because they are usually not permitted to call for witnesses and anyway, they are not told the source of hearsay.Much of it is anonymous.
    I guess one problem is that SW’s tend to see hearsay evidence (often the most damning allegations) and are so shocked by it, they act too hastily. They should check it out first and to do so an impartial investigation is called for.
    How often do we hear that they don’t even bother following procedures properly? Sometimes they forget even to put questions to the parents to establish real facts.
    TBH, some SW’s act correctly, some don’t.
    The court system ( if we insist on calling it a court) is inadequate .I know 80 per cent of CS departments are too ( according to Ofsted) but I regard the Judicial system as more critical.
    My advice to SW’s. Stick rigidly to the guidelines ,investigate the facts and don’t base your evidence on hearsay.

    Reply
    1. helensparkles

      I do know that mine is not the only information that informs your comments Angelo, but when you say “as Helen says” I assume what you say afterwards will be what I said. It wasn’t.

      I also have no problem with those discussions in court at all. I do understand that parents may not feel included and they really should be asking their solicitor about anything they are uncomfortable about or don’t understand. Whilst there is respect amongst professionals I have never seen the type of regard you mention from lawyers about SW. If a SW is giving evidence and their evidence changed in court, it would conflict with their statement, I think everyone would be a bit worried about that quite rightly.

      It is not unprofessional for me to tell you that I investigate, which I said I do and is what you are asking me to do. You are talking about types of evidence, burdens of proof, and you know they are different in a family court. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a real court, it just means it is a different kind of court to a criminal court.

      Sometimes it isn’t clear at all what has happened, but it might have had a serious outcome, that will need to be included. There will be real facts in there but unfortunately for children their parents often lie about what happened.

      I’m not going to comment on the inspection regime but it is an aspect of the system I would change.

      Reply
  6. Angelo Granda

    May I add, do not disguise hearsay allegations as facts.Tell the deciision makers what is fact and what is hearsay known to be untrue.

    Reply
      1. helensparkles

        I’ve just looked up the definition of hearsay which isn’t what I thought it was. I think we are both talking about the same thing. People who make a statement/allegation for which there may not be evidence, such as a DV incident which is not reported to the police or for which there are no witnesses?

        Reply
  7. Sam

    I dare say I found the same as you “the report of another person’s words by a witness, which is usually disallowed as evidence in a court of law” I think the problem is the usually, parents would say it is normally allowed as evidence. Angelo often talks about a template, where the case against the parents is made to fit. I can not say for others, but in my case this certainly happened, considering I was brought up in a non swearing household, in fact my parents couldn’t abide swearing and the only time I got ever smacked by my Dad was aged 17 for saying a very mild swear word ( No, I haven’t been traumatised for life ). Yet the language I supposedly used towards social work staff was truly fictional, but fitted into their narrative and it is what you would expect me to say from reading other judgements. No Helen , I do not believe all social workers make up statements, but there must be a very dangerous minority that do so. They could very well do so, because of stress or management pressure, but the result is traumatising for children and wider families.

    At the Transparency Projects first Child Protection Conference, which I believe you attended Helen, Dr Lauren Devine stated an astounding % of child protection cases being wrongly classified yet two years later care proceeding applications are at their highest point ever. It needs to halt.

    Reply
    1. Angelo Granda

      I think we should concentrate on what we agree on and try and concentrate on the judicial problems. It is more constructive.If I,m misquoting you,Helen,I’m sorry ( not verynice is it) but I,m just giving my interpretation,my version of the truth (hearsay).I wouldn’t quote you in a family court under oath of course without going back and checking your words meticulously.
      I think you have said there should be more funds available to support families. I agree with you.
      Do you admit that if more funds were spent to support Mums, less children would become victims of permanent separation from family.
      Would more cash for support sevices save chidren from the chop ?

      Reply
      1. helensparkles

        You misinterpreted me Angelo, so I corrected it. If you want to do some kind of tit for tat, see how you like it because that is what SW do, go ahead. Seems a bit futile here tho’?

        Reply
        1. Angelo Granda

          As I said, we should concentrate on what we agree on and try and be more constructive.
          Victims and SW’s have opposing mindsets and are bound to disagree on many things.Helen,I do not want a tit-for-tat and I have consistently praised good social workers.I have said they are convinced they are doing a good job only last week.Nevertheless, we have to accept their shortcomings and I will not dispute Ofsted reports.
          Can we agree on the following?

          More money for support services would mean less families need to be liquidated permanently?

          Reply
          1. helensparkles

            I think it is more complex than that and wouldn’t use your language about families being liquidated. It is very sad to separate children from their parents but some parents harm their children and I would not go to the lengths you would in order to keep them together because that would be damaging for children. The cases I see which are CP and which do go into care proceedings are not cases where there is any doubt that children are being harmed and a court needs to decide about their future.

            I think there is a research and evidence base to support investment in early intervention services saving money long term in all spheres of life. I think that is of benefit to everyone and I also think it is fair and just that families have access to those services, along with any therapeutic intervention they need. How that would affect families where children are at risk of being removed is another matter. The right support doesn’t mean that everyone has capacity to change in the child’s timescales.

            Angelo you do say SW are convinced they are doing a good job whilst simultaneously telling us why you think they are not actually doing a good job. I have also asked you a number of times not to misquote me but you continue to do so. I don’t really care about it per se, this is just a discussion space, but I do comment as a SW so it is better for anyone reading that this isn’t distorted.

    2. helensparkles

      Lauren is talking about CP thresholds and saying they are wrong, therefore CP cases are wrongly classified, that doesn’t necessarily mean the CP system agrees with her. I don’t see everything obviously but in my CP team I don’t see anything that isn’t definitively CP. I am sure I am not unique, but I look forward to discussing the research further with Lauren and have been in touch with her since that conference. One of the things that is key, and Munby has mentioned, is that LAs have got better at their job. More is known about the impact upon children of all aspects of CP and that will account for some of the rise in care proceeding as will S20 cases which are not allowed to remain S20.

      I don’t condone malpractice Sam so if anyone is making up a statement, I’d want that dealt with.

      Reply
  8. Sam

    It’s how to get it dealt with though Helen , when it’s a parents word against a social worker and the SW has made the parent to look like mad scum. I do have records to back me up though. Would an ISW work for a parent who paid them to help them draft a complaint to the HCPC? I am not particularly comfortable with scapegoating one person, as much as she lied about me, but my children’s welfare remains at stake and the consequences will be lifelong.

    Reply
    1. helensparkles

      I don’t think you need an ISW. You can make a complaint to the HCPC http://www.hcpc-uk.org/complaints/raiseaconcern/howto/ and if you feel like you need support, I’d look for an advocacy service, which should be free. If you wanted a SW you would need to find someone who investigates complaints so they have the expertise. I don’t know why you would think you were scapegoating if someone did something wrong. Remind me, you are saying the SW lied in a statement, what happened when it went to court? I presume you instructed your solicitor. Apologies if you have told me before.

      Reply
    2. Angelo Granda

      Sam,
      No, an ISW will not work for a parent.Usually they will only do work for a family when commissioned by a court. I contacted some a long time ago and was told that by all of them.
      Re- complaint to social worker disciplinary body.I wrote with a complaint about a SW manager .They replied to the effect that they will not investigate my complaint UNTIL I had taken it through the complete LA complaints procedure first.As I have said before the LA procedure is ineffective for many reasons.Even when findings are in your favour,no action will be taken and if you take it to the final stage ( the ombudsman) he will not investigate if a court has previously been involved.
      The only real route when SW’s are dishonest,mislead the Court and conduct cases wrongly causing it to make wrong appraisals REALISTICALLY is an appeal to a higher Court.
      That requires permission,legal funding and a capable barrister willing to protest strongly about false statements made under OATH.

      You don’t want one who subscribes to the ‘ two versions of truth’ camp who mistakes facts from hearsay and opinion.

      Unfortunately, whilst the various professionals continually debate the CP system and will get there one day, we hope, this is not a debate for you and other victims hung out to dry.You and they are living the inhumanity they are endlessly debating.

      Fair hearings are called for which includes complete honesty from professionals. Statements made under oath must be scrupulously true. When there is proof they aren’t then the case has been conducted incorrectly, yet still the lawyers will not see the need to appeal the case.

      This is crazy. All other courts will allow an appeal when cases are conducted incorrectly and false statements made under oath.Why not the Family Court? Why does it insist on secrecy? I ask you, to protect children from possible identification? Spin me another.

      In the cases of two prominent Tory politicians ( one of whom was also a best selling novellist) they were both jailed for perjury in a civil court several years after the actual cases.Even if, at a complaints investigation, the SW admitted telling an untruth, the Family Court will still not grant permission to appeal. What do they want you to do? Conduct a criminal perjury case yourself and prosecute the SW? Because their colleagues, the Police, won’t do anything ( unless it is the Daily Star which complains).

      Forget the SW’s. We should be discussing the judicial system.

      All comments welcome..

      Reply
  9. helensparkles

    I think Sam has already gone through the complaints procedure with the LA, from what I recall, but I could be wrong?

    “You don’t want one who subscribes to the ‘ two versions of truth’ camp who mistakes facts from hearsay and opinion.” 20 people who witness an RTA will have 20 different versions of what happened. The facts can still be determined, does that help with your version of facts vs people telling a court things they think are true?

    “Why does it insist on secrecy? I ask you, to protect children from possible identification? Spin me another.” I agree there should be more transparency but that does not mean identifying children in my view or making courts public. Transparency means everyone should be able to understand exactly how the family court system functions and to be confident that the way it should function is what can be seen in action. That does not mean exposing vulnerable families or their children to the public gaze. Anyone who thinks it does is not interested in the child’s interests.

    “Because their colleagues, the Police, won’t do anything ( unless it is the Daily Star which complains).” The police prosecute where there is evidence of a crime. I said at best I would call them colleagues, because I work with them closely on some cases, that doesn’t mean they don’t prosecute people who have committed a crime because they are a SW. Or are the police corrupt?

    Reply
    1. Angelo Granda

      When a complaint of a criminal offence is made ,the Police should investigate the complaint and seek out the evidence. This is what they do! That is why we have a Police Force. When SW’s make allegations against fathers and mothers, they investigate and if the evidence is there ,they will prosecute.
      When fathers and mothers OR children make allegations against SW’s or the LA as a body, they don’t investigate as soon as they hear A CP case is involved. Complain about a sw perverting the course of justice and making false statements under oath and they will snigger knowingly, agree with you it is wrong, say they have many, many complaints from parents and then apologise and say they are unable to do anything.
      When a case is in or has been in the family court ,the judiciary are responsible for permitting LA’s to abuse the system.
      As far as SW’s are concerned ,half the time they don’t even know they are making false statements under oath. I have no doubt they do it with the best intentions. The reason they don’t know is that they don’t follow correct procedures and do impartial CP investigations. They don’t check the truth of their statements out before they sign them and lodge them at Court. They are so overworked , so pressurised by their perceived duty to ‘protect children’ and so driven by strict directives from above into hasty and overly-cautious decisions without thinking about the alternatives more in the child’s interests. One cannot but sympathise with the task these poor dears face. I am sure we all emphasise and understand they walk a bit of a tightrope between disaster and failure for a child.
      However, when SW’s fail to follow legal guidelines meticulously and fail to check out their evidence before signing the oath in legal proceedings, they cross the line.
      They can be forgiven for cutting corners normally and I don’t think anyone will deny they do! Hundreds of them are trying there best to change the system and improve practices.
      When they cross the line in the family court , it is up to the lawyers stop it. The Court is responsible for miscarriages of Justice and the Police will tell you that. Except perhaps when someone with power and influence makes the complaint. They just snigger sympathetically and send victims on their way.

      Reply
      1. helensparkles

        Let me know how many complaints of perjury you know have been made to the police or perverting the course of justice would you and what their response was, obviously only those you know about. I presume there was evidence and you took documents in before they said why they couldn’t act.

        The police don’t prosecute most allegations against parents, I have been in situations when they could but it would not have been in the best interests of the family, so a decision was is not to charge.

        Obviously if there is malpractice I can’t really comment on that but you know I think it should be addressed. My experience of SW is that they check out the evidence thoroughly and they do follow procedures. People lie to them a lot, obviously we know why, but it means an assessment of information does have to be made. If I think something is true and I think the parent has lied about it, I should say so and say why I think that. That isn’t very hard and then it should be for a judge to decide.

        Your empathy is misplaced. SW are driven by the law, their duty is not perceived it is actual. & yes case loads are sometimes too high and workloads but it is actually much easier to follow a procedure than not to. Your poor dears is patronising again.

        The tightrope is absolutely the difference between safety and risk, but leaving aside the headline cases where the media have pursued SW, if something goes wrong SW’s aren’t actually lynched. Children on the other hand are hurt, which is the bit that matters.

        I think the sniggering is at the complaint not the SW. Try working out next time if someone is trying to humour you so you go away.

        Reply
  10. Sam

    “The police don’t prosecute most allegations against parents, I have been in situations when they could but it would not have been in the best interests of the family, so a decision was is not to charge

    This is exactly why my ex husband has got away with years of assault and coercive control, because of the interference of the SW, whom I had previously complained about due to total fabrication in a complaints procedure, so she was on his side even though he had a history of violence and was incapable of looking after the children . Justice was therefore perverted both criminally and in the family court. It was not either in the children’s interests or mine. CS have no right to influence criminal proceedings. Who other than a Judge has the right to decide what is in the best interests of a family when it involves separating parents from children without consent.

    Reply
    1. helensparkles

      What makes you think CS influence police decisions, they make their own charging decisions. I had absolutely no say in their decision not to charge someone, that was up to the DI/CPS not me. Whatever your SW said or didn’t say to the police, it would not have had an influence, the police have their own chain of command and that doesn’t include the views of the SW at all! The police also make charging decisions on evidence, was there evidence of a history of violence on the part of your ex and how old was it? I would still maintain that even the new law doesn’t help with coercive control.

      Nobody other than a judge has the right to decide what is in the best interests of a family when it involves separating parents from children without consent. The judge relies on the evidence presented in court and I assume you were instructing a solicitor so your evidence there too.

      Reply
      1. Sam

        In some areas of the country SW and Police collude and cover up child abuse. I have read the Jay Report and Jayne Senior’s book and what happened in Rotherham , if my experience is anything to go by is being replicated within my LA. The PPU who have renamed themselves ironically Protecting Vulnerable People Unit work hand in glove with the LA and both defer to them and refuse to investigate them. They all sit on each others committees , and the LSGB is made up mainly of representatives of both employers. I think in a few years time it will also be a national scandal.
        There was a history of violence, both historical and contemporary, in fact I would probably still have my children if I had not dialled 999 to stop him assaulting my son.

        Reply
        1. Angelo Granda

          Sam, What you say is absolutely and has been happening for decades. 30 years ago ,I know of a woman who was being hit and abused in other ways by her partner.Several times, she called the Police and apart from warnings , they did nothing.Finally,she called 999 and the Police took him away again and did nothing.She also reported events to the CS and took her three children to her mother’s ,then went off to look for her own flat.
          Whilst she was away,the SW took the children away from the Grandmother on the grounds Mum was unable to protect them from harm( although none of them had been harmed significantly.The CS did not even wait to speak to Mum for her full account before getting the EPO.
          What more could she have done?

          So the writer of the above post should realise that the system she is up against is long-standing.

          Reply
          1. helensparkles

            An EPO is granted when children are at immediate risk of significant harm. It isn’t often necessary to make an application with that amount of urgency. EPOs last for a time limited period and are used when the LA need to intervene to ensure children are protected immediately. If grandma was safe, could protect, and home was safe environment etc. there would have been no need for an EPO.

        2. helensparkles

          Sam I can’t give advice at all, let alone legal advice but this is what I would do if I were you. I would take my evidence of DV to a solicitor because it would mean I would be eligible for legal aid. I would make an application for a Child Arrangements Order, these have replaced other orders and cover all the arrangements for a child. The LA would be asked for a report, they have been involved before and would be again, but you will have legal representation and evidence of DV. I don’t know if that means your children will be returned to you, the court could decide that neither parent should be looking after them, but it would mean that you have done something about the risk you view your ex as presenting to your children. You will need to challenge the SW evidence if it is not the same as your version but your children’s wellbeing is the most important factor.

          Reply
          1. Sam

            Thank you again Helen, I know there is some self righteous indignation on my part, but I am concerned not only for my children but more widely in this area. I don’t think mine is an isolated case

          2. helensparkles

            Sam you need a solicitor in your area with Children’s Panel accreditation ideally, you may know this. You can just look them up on the Law Society website http://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk I tend not to use the filters but to look at panel accreditation when the list comes up, I did use the filters once and no lawyers came up which was just wrong!

      2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        I have to agree with Helen on this one. It is not my experience that CS influence charging decisions. Usually we seem to be left in the dark with not much clue what that the police are doing. Lack of inter-agency co-operation is one of my biggest bug bears. In the majority of my cases it would be much BETTER if the police and SW worked more closely together and shared relevant information more easily.

        Reply
        1. Angelo Granda

          Hear,Hear ,Sarah. Especially where the CS refer a case to Police for investigation rather than do it themselves,they should await the outcome of it before taking action in a family court on the strength of the uninvestigated allegations.

          When that happens,one would reasonably expect the lawyers and the Judge,especially,to say ” Hey there,Whoaahh! Slow down just for a minute before we liquidate this family permanently and have the children adopted.Why don’t we wait and see the results of the impartial investigation? After all, someone is supposed to look into allegations to see if they have any basis in fact,don’t they?

          Alas, in many cases, the Judge and the lawyers don’t bother waiting.Perhaps you should get together about it. It is injust.I suspect that the Police along with their SW colleagues contrive together to delay investigations and CPS decisions until a civil case is over.The LA prefer it that the facts are hidden from the Court.
          Whilst I think it correct that agencies should share information, they should remember that truth and justice is the object and that it is nothing whatever to do with the Police how the family court case is progressing.Cases should be seperate.Unless the Police are party to a case,is it legally correct for the SW’s to divulge details of proceedings? Should they even be commenced before the circumstances of a case has been fully investigated?

          All comments welcome.

          Reply
          1. Sam

            In my case, and probably others the SW manager definitely influenced the investigation, stopping criminal proceedings. Admittedly the police force in question was already failing, there have been several very damning HMIC reports. The DI who had day to day charge of the Police Protection Unit told me that she understood child abuse as she had done a week studying it during her degree. I suspect she had absolutely nothing with regards to domestic violence. I have seen a recent report, sorry can’t remember where, which criticised the fact that officers working in public protection do not necessarily have additional specialist training.
            Maybe it is an argument for child protection and family violence to be only dealt with by a specialist agency separate from both CS and the police. We do after all have similar agencies , such as Border Force in specialist roles. Then CS could just support families and refer child protection concerns to them. It may be pie in the sky but I believe LA’s will be able to innovate ( in theory) with the new families bill.

          2. helensparkles

            When you talk about CS referring to the police instead of doing it themselves, that would be a S47 enquiry? CS are the lead agency but the strategy meeting decides who investigates. It isn’t a decision by an agency not to investigate, it is about roles and responsibilities. Information sharing is appropriate obviously, but there is information sharing guidance for professionals which dictates how and with whom.

            The police have to apply for information which is the content of care proceedings, they often do because it is evidence in their case, but how that is shared is v strict.

            You are talking about the timetable for criminal and family proceedings and burden of proof. Someone can be found not guilty in a criminal proceedings but a finding of facts hearing find they did xyz. You may not think this is right but it is the current system.

            I have always had a very positive experience of working with the police, and good communication, but I know that isn’t always the case.

          3. helensparkles

            You might think they did Sam, but I can almost guarantee they didn’t. The police rules and regulations are really clear and they have to make the decision. It isn’t about what they think, it is about the kind of evidence they have.

            There is already the power to innovate http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2016/10/03/power-innovate-childrens-services-one-already/ the new bill opens the door to privatisation, deliberately. If you want G4S rocking up to tell you they are removing your children on behalf of the state, you should carry on supporting it. It is a very badly drafted piece of legislation, there has been no Green Paper (so no consultation with anyone) and it takes away the kinds of protection for children that has built up over years. It relies on a right wing agenda of all public servants are a bit rubbish, these shiny companies (the government fund) will do a better job, but kind of forgets the bit where they won’t do anything because there is no profit. Yes they do want to make a profile out of vulnerable families and their children, they have shareholders, oh and they would need to be as pro adoption as the government.

            Not sure why a separate child protection agency would be any different to what we have now, which are multiagency teams doing that.

          4. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            Angelo – but the Judges CANNOT wait. Parliament has told them they cannot. They have 26 weeks to finish care proceedings. This is a statutory requirement of the Children and Families Act 2014. Which was law devised and implemented by politicians – so your argument needs to be with them. Lawyers and Judges can only apply the law – we don’t make it.

          5. Angelo Granda

            Sarah, I hear what you say but if it is true, i must have misunderstood previous discussion.
            I thought it had been concluded that it was intended by Parliament that the 26 week target is for adoptions to be arranged AFTER a Family Court had decided that it was not possible for a child to remain with family because circumstances were so dire. The 26 weeks does not start until the decision is made by a Judge and a placement order issued. Am I wrong?
            It does not seem fair that a care-order should even be applied for until a full, impartial investigation of facts is completed. If that takes longer than 26 weeks then so be it.
            Please will some one clarify this point for non-lawyers. Thank you, in advance.

          6. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            No. The 26 weeks is the statutory upper limit for the conclusion of CARE proceedings. These must be completed ‘as soon as possible’ or in any event no later than 26 weeks. It is possible to seek extension of time but this must be seen as exceptional and local courts are under huge pressure to have ‘good statistics’ – if a large number of their cases are going over 26 weeks, they will have to account for themselves. Judges are very keen to get cases done in the time limit.

            Once a care and placement order is made a child could be adopted within months or years. There is no fixed time period. But if the search for adoptive parents is fruitless after a year or two I expect that most children would simply be left in long term foster care.

            What we need to remember is that when the Children Act was first drafted, the expectation was that care proceedings would take no more than 12 weeks. So 26 weeks still represents a significant increase on that.

            Parents really need to get their heads around this. Once care proceedings start, a clock is ticking. You have very limited time to show that you can make and sustain changes. That’s why its crucial to engage with your lawyers ASAP.

          7. helensparkles

            Angelo, 26 weeks is the PLO timescale for care proceedings.

            There is though a pre proceedings period which is more fluid and enables the work that needs to be done with a family to run alongside the child protection process. That means the family have legal representation before they go to court and clear expectations of what needs to change to avoid care proceedings being initiated. It also means they have the opportunity to attend courses, counselling, drugs/alcohol treatment etc.

            Pre proceedings expectations and progress are reviewed regularly, with the family and their lawyer, and a lot of the time it is a very useful period of time for changes to be made. If they are pre proceedings can end, they can also end in care proceedings being initiated should concerns increase.

            As well as working with the family, offering help and support, this is a time to complete a parenting assessment and for SW to locate and assess other family members as an alternative to adoption should the outcome be that the child cannot remain with their parent(s).

            There are mixed views of how effective pre proceedings are. I can only give you my experience and it is helpful that everyone has legal representation. Parents listen to lawyers and tend to take concerns seriously at that point, it is a shame that they don’t prior to that. I don’t know stats, would be interested, but most of my cases (& those in my team) come out of pre proceedings rather than going to court.

            The 26 weeks therefore doesn’t stand alone, it may have been preceded by months of pre proceedings work, before concerns escalated. Similarly if concerns are significant enough, they don’t take place. When children are at risk of immediate harm, care proceedings can be initiated immediately.

  11. Angelo Granda

    I went with an accused woman to the Police station two days after the final hearing in a family court.She was summonsed there by the investigating D.C. When we arrived, surprisingly the key social worker was there with the DC and they came into the room together. The DC announced that as the children had been removed into care, they had both decided that she had been punished enough and that no further action would be taken. That is what makes me think the CS influence police decisions! They keep the Police informed ( behind the scenes) about all that happens during the ‘strictly private’ court proceedings and help their ‘ colleagues’in that way.What the two conspirators did not realise was that we had already seen the official decision of the CPS that there was to be no further action on account of the fact that there was no realistic evidence of neglect following on from medical reports in which the children had been described as well,happy and showing no signs of neglect.Of course,it was no coincidence that the CPS decision was issued the day after the final hearing! The SW had kept the Police informed all along. they do influence the charging decisions but they do it clandenstinely.Take my word for it!.

    The Judge reads the CS assessments,reports and opinions and makes his/her appraisals and decisions on them.If the SW’s have conducted the case wrongly, he /she makes misinformed ,wrong appraisals. I am sure we can all follow that liklihood.

    Helen, Please note I have no desire to patronise SW’s. I have always had empathy with them and when I use the term ‘poor dears’ I use it quite genuinely. I want readers to be aware of this. I have had more than one SW ‘ crying upon my shoulder’ over the years and I like to think it is a sympathetic shoulder.I try to give them encouragement.One was only about 22 and almost at the end of her tether at that tender age because of the almost inhuman pressures she was put under by management.Another,a man, was almost in tears from pain in his back.Because of the pressure of work,he felt unable to take time off work. I do not patronise them but the management have a duty to do so; they should have more support.
    I always tell SW’s’ Never be afraid to tell the truth.. I can see all sides of the story evenly, I trust readers know that by now.

    I hope that even senior SW’s like you, if in need of a shoulder, will not be feared of confiding in other contributors on the CPR.

    Reply
    1. helensparkles

      Luckily I am not in need of a shoulder, but I do have support in place if that changes, I certainly would not confide in anyone on a public forum but thank you for your offer.

      I do not perceive you to be someone who sees all sides of a story evenly, your agenda is very obvious, and it isn’t balanced. That isn’t to criticise what it is, it just is what it is.

      The case example you give is one which the police and SW were both involved in, they would absolutely discuss case details, and the police would inform the SW of police decisions. They are not conspirators, they are sharing information appropriately in their safeguarding roles. It isn’t hidden or behind the scenes, it is what they are both supposed to do if they follow the correct procedures you are so keen on. I think you need to know more about what is the correct procedure.

      I think saying that someone has been punished enough is an unfortunate offhand comment which needed a bit of thought but they probably didn’t expect they were in the company of someone who would forensically analyse it as duplicity.

      “The Judge reads the CS assessments,reports and opinions and makes his/her appraisals and decisions on them.If the SW’s have conducted the case wrongly, he /she makes misinformed ,wrong appraisals. I am sure we can all follow that liklihood.” So judges don’t read anything else? They don’t read parents’ statements or hear from them? Just the SW.

      Reply
    2. Sam

      “The police have to apply for information which is the content of care proceedings, they often do because it is evidence in their case, but how that is shared is v strict.”

      So this would explain why they would not treat any allegations about my ex seriously, even when he threatened to kill my daughter and threw her out of the house whilst care proceedings were ongoing. It was a joint decision not to charge. They also treated me absolutely appallingly and completely ignored the victim code and failed to gather evidence.

      Multi agency teams do not work because as I have already pointed out they don’t have sufficient training or insight. Child Protection should be highly specialised and properly staffed.

      Reply
      1. helensparkles

        Err it doesn’t explain that at all. if the child protection process is ongoing, the police are involved in information sharing. The fact that they have to apply for some information they may wish to use as evidence isn’t relevant to that. I don’t know why the police didn’t treat the allegations seriously, you should ask them, but SW cannot make charging decisions. It wouldn’t really matter how influential I was, I’d have no effect whatsoever, not that I want to.

        I am very confused about who would staff your specialist team, clearly not the people currently trained to be specialists who are child abuse investigation units (or similarly named) within the police force, child protection workers in children’s services, and safeguarding experienced health workers. That covers all the stat agencies except education, who tend to be involved when CP process starts, so would love to hear who else needs to be specially trained to be specialist enough for you.
        So social workers don’t have the specialism even if they are child protection workers, the police don’t have the socialism to investigate crimes, and health professionals don’t have the expertise to recognise safeguarding issues? Not sure who is going to staff those very specialist teams then?

        Reply
        1. Sam

          I can always be wrong because I am just one person . In my experience, and I have some, people become social workers to help others. I think there are particular psychological reasons why individuals feel the need to do so but that is a different argument.
          Child Protection is not about helping others ,it is a legal matter and requires a different type of character to successfully carry out that role.
          I emphasis that there is a severe lack of training , NQSW and police get thrown in at the deep end at the moment and this is how momentous mistakes are made. I go back to the DI in charge of my case had ONE WEEK of training in child abuse. It is not acceptable for a fair process

          Reply
          1. helensparkles

            One week is a very intensive training course, and child protect is of course covered on that longer regular police training, so it is in addition to that.

            I think anyone who is a rescuer soon works out that social work is nothing to do with that.

            Child protection is not always a police matter, it is not as simple as crimes and evidence, and as you point out the police would often not charge/prosecute but that doesn’t mean children are safe. it is also about helping people, unless you think that children are not people.

          2. Angelo Granda

            Sam, you are not wrong! Thousands of parents will agree with you and according to OFSTED, 80per cent (source BBC) of CS departments are inadequate, unfit for purpose etc. Staff are badly trained and badly managed. Their reports and assessments etc. are often made following incorrect procedure and contain much untruth. This is a fact!
            When mere parents (just like you) draw attention to mistakes, malpractices and untruths ,lack of impartiality etc. to their superiors , the offences are COVERED-UP.
            Police will not investigate allegations and LA official complaints investigations are a sham! The investigators will do or say anything to cover- up offences a la Hillsborough and officials give squalid excuses for the indefensible.

            Helen, with the utmost ( genuine) respect, to myself and other parents ,I think, many of your comments epitomise the cover-up mentality which exists. You appear not to acknowledge that corruption within the CP system exists. Whenever victims refer to malpractices ,you allude to parents, saying you ‘think’ they tell lies to you. You say SW’s will have followed certain regulations and guidelines when you know they don’t always do so .If a parent proves a statement of fact to be wrong, that it is simply not true and has perverted the course of justice, you will come out with bland clichés such as ” there can be different versions of the truth”. There is only one truth, and that is the whole truth and nothing but the truth. SW’s should not give a false version recklessly without checking their facts period ! When their superiors find out they have the facts wrong, they should admit it and take corrective action not sustain false evidence, saying it is fair opinion. Because it is not. When parents ask straightforward, simple questions of SW’s and show up wrongdoing , they use deceptive, well worn cliché such as: –

            ” I think the issues are more complex than that”,

            ” Information is coming in daily”

            ” Research and statistics say this that and the other”

            I have attended and observed meetings and seen the professionals in action. They will say and do anything to cover-up the truth.

            Sam, Helen quite rightly advises victims to get a solicitor ( accredited by the Children’s Legal Panel). Another problem victims face is that these solicitors cover-up malpractice too. They grant the LA’s too much leeway and let’s face it ,this is only natural, they work regularly as colleagues with these people and indeed represent them often. They are biased and predisposed to taking the word of SW’s before that of parents even when they act for the parents. When the CS disobey a court order ,for example, they will not object and should the parent do so ,it will be held against them. This is because , were the solicitors representing the LA , they would probably advise it to ignore the order, i guess.

            Even barristers speak the language of cover-up . When a parent proves a witness has made a false statement under oath, they turn to the ‘two versions of the truth” concept. I am amazed lawyers should find this acceptable. It is covering-up wrong-doing. The Judges speak the language of cover-up and ignore blatant malpractice. Helen, i have read enough judgments. One Judge found the parent was right, that the CS had mistreated and abused the children and that the LA had misled the Court but then went on to excuse them ,saying, had the workers not had reason to ‘think’ the children were neglected, they would not have done so. The Judge took no action. That was cover-up!

            Sam , you aren’t imagining it. Cases are corrupted by corrupt SW’s. It may not be a general conspiracy. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories but I have no doubt that there is much corruption. When professionals say they have seen no corruption and that the vast majority of cases are conducted correctly etc., to me they are untruthful. It is a fact of life that Public servants are often corrupted by the power they are granted. The dispute is only about the extent of it. I would estimate that 50 per cent of cases are conducted dishonestly. It may be something to do with post-codes ,I couldn’t say but I do believe certain genres or class of children are targeted by the rogues.

            Sam, English Law recognises and is designed to deal with the FACT OF LIFE that public officials ( a good proportion of them) are corrupt and that they commit malpractice. It is recognised they exceed their authority and that there is much cruelty to citizens. So when these people deny malpractice or say they are unaware of any ( especially over a long career) ,that procedures are kept to they are not likely to be telling the truth. Indeed they have probably offended themselves. Obviously, unlike parents who do admit to wrongdoing, these supposed paragons of virtue will not own up. Everybody ,yes,everybody offends and lies sometimes. It is not acceptable to bear false witness in court and SW’s cross the line when they do so. From what you have written, i think you have difficulty analysing their motives. The motives are so varied but I think SW’s are generally arrogant. They justify any dishonesty on their part ,saying they do it to keep children safe. Rubbish ,children are at risk of significant harm wherever they go particularly in care!They are convinced that ,although it is actually cruel to take children from Mums. that it is a good policy to blast the families apart and place the children in new homes. The High Courts and the LAW continuously stated that is not so and that the real task is to support families and keep them together. Their arrogance and their own opinions that children will be better off adopted causes them to exceed their authority and give false evidence. I don’t like saying the word but they tell lies. It is a human frailty, we all lie! That is a known and that is why strict guidelines and safeguards are put in place in legal proceedings. To prevent authoritarian lies and abuse of citizens.
            In child-protection , families should not be interfered except after fair process. The Family Court does not enforce it,it insists hearings are to be closed to the public and sometimes it permits professionals to ignore correct procedure.
            It also accepts untrue statements as unfortunate but acceptable. When this happens, there should be an automatic right to appeal.

            In my opinion, your case should have been dealt with correctly years ago in the first place as should all of our cases. Get a child-directions order now and I’m sorry but its much too late. The damage is already done and the LA will probably get it wrong again anyway.

            All comments welcome as usual including the usual denials.

          3. helensparkles

            I think it is relatively pointless me responding to most that comment except to say that I have always said that I don’t condone malpractice, if I see anything I am not happy about I have always said so. I can’t unfortunately tell you anything about that on a public forum.

            I can’t comment on Sam’s case and neither can you, you don’t know enough.

            Some parents make endless malicious allegations against each other, they are he said she said issues, and the police have no evidence so nobody can be charged even with making false allegations because nothing can be proved. In case of any doubt, that does not mean I think Sam has made any malicious allegations. THE TRUTH is not as clear as you over simplify.

            I do absolutely dispute that the system is corrupt and I would ask you to look at what corruption is, if you really think that anyone is benefitting in some way from the current system, I would disagree with you and have previously. I would also say that I give up commenting on anything you post if that remains your position because we will never have a point of agreement on systemic change when that is your baseline.

            I do know parents lie to me and I understand why, it’s a shame because lying makes things worse, and the matter usually reveals itself at some point. I do not say that all parents lie, because that isn’t the case.

            I think people do have very different perspectives, for example if they didn’t, the parenting the court thinks is neglectful is something neglectful parents would see and change before they went into proceedings.

            Sorry if my comments are tired or cliched to you but again I find that a really partronising thing to read, I don’t think I would say that to you and I think you would object if I did.

            I would maintain that the inspection regime is flawed. An easy example of that is that Ofsted changed their report after Baby P having previously inspected the LA positively. That’s a bit like me having an exam paper back now I know the answers. In essence, the current inspection regime is better than it was, but it mainly measures things on computers. Some of the things put on computers will and should always be there because they evidence statutory requirements (that all those procedures are being followed) but some things are just not so important to children and their families, so they go to the bottom of the list because SW are busy doing not writing about doing. Caseload and workload issues are mainly admin issues. I don’t value the outcomes of an Ofsted inspection because it just means I have complied with the inspection regime, and got stuff on a file, it doesn’t always evidence the quality of work with that family and their child/ren.

          4. helensparkles

            Separately Angelo, I need to pick up on this “English Law recognises and is designed to deal with the FACT OF LIFE that public officials ( a good proportion of them) are corrupt and that they commit malpractice. It is recognised they exceed their authority and that there is much cruelty to citizens. So when these people deny malpractice or say they are unaware of any ( especially over a long career) ,that procedures are kept to they are not likely to be telling the truth. Indeed they have probably offended themselves.” Because, when I tell you what I think, you think I am denying something, I must also assume form this that you think I have offended, that I commit malpractice and am corrupt. If it doesn’t I need you to clarify and if it doesn’t even more so.

          5. Angelo Granda

            Helen, please don’t misunderstand, I am speaking generally and you should not be taking it personally .Just the same as when you say parents lie to you, Sam and I know you don’t mean we do.
            The very fact that you take your time to come on to this resource and keep us all informed of correct procedure ,making it absolutely clear to us how SW’s should proceed is good enough for me that you aren’t corrupt. I mean the ones who ignore the procedures which your dept. follows religiously.

            Yes, Helen, that is quite right about English Law. Throughout history ,a bane on mankind has been the authorities imposing injustice upon citizens. They like to take from the Public to fill their own pockets, to confiscate assets from hard-working citizens and to exploit and use adults and children to their advantage. They also insist on taking children from their parents for exploitation of all kinds. Sometimes they are drafted for transportation to the colonies, sometimes they are taken for sexual exploitation, sometimes it is alleged they are removed into care just to provide vast profits for private companies and their shareholders. I cannot comment with any certainty except to say that I do not believe there is a general high-level conspiracy. I am not a conspiracy theorist.
            However the fact remains that they have been consistent throughout the centuries in exceeding their authority and inflicting inhumanity and cruelty upon families- interfering in their lives without good reason.
            As far as child protection is concerned, i have no doubt that ,due to malpractice, thousands of children are removed into care needlessly. SW’s over- exaggerate problems, present false facts and abuse the system. When they are caught out, very often offences are covered-up and Police will not investigate allegations.
            I remarked that Sam appears to have difficulty working out why SW’s should be so cruel. What do they get out of it? I was merely trying to explain to Sam why they are corrupt, why they ‘lie’ etc. I wanted to tell her it is an age-old crime which they commit and that the LAW has set out procedures and guidelines to stop abuses. It is vital they are followed and when they are not, the only remedy is appeal to a higher court . This is especially so because complaints investigators and solicitors are just as bad as the perpetrators; they cover-up for them.
            I tried to explain to Sam that everyone tells lies, we are all guilty of sin and all will cut corners and bend the truth etc. However, I emphasised that ,whilst this is acceptable and whilst ordinary mortals are prone to error and wrong-doing that bearing false witness against another person in Court under oath is crossing the line. When I said we all sin and tell lies, naturally I did not mean you, Helen, I meant ordinary mortals. Parents actually own up to wrong-doing a lot but I have never known the LA to do so. They just cover up.
            As for cliché and false mantra, your words don’t bore me!

            Sam, The fact is that when SW’s act dishonestly, fitting false evidence to templates etc. they cross the line. The children get thrown out with the bathwater and when this cruelty happens we have to question the motives.
            Why would a child protection professional want to lie and inflict so much pain on children and parents?

            My estimate was that 50% of cases are conducted wrongly. This means that roughly half the SW’s are corrupt. Very often, of course, cruelty and bullying is inflicted on individuals by individuals in normal walks of life. The offender gets pleasure and satisfaction out of it and that is his motive.

            So why should a SW who is employed to support families and to be kind to children go out of their way to be cruel to them and take them from family? I think a certain type of Social Worker will get satisfaction and pleasure out of doing so and one of the best parts of the pleasure for them is that they can do it and get away with it. They form part of an official body which allows them to get away with it and indeed which often applauds and awards them for their actions. I myself have sat in courts and heard a judge praise SW’s for doing a good job when ,in actual fact, they have broken every rule in the book.
            I don’t think that many SW’s would be so cruel and so unjust were they in it ALONE. They would be more kind to children and make more effort to do their job correctly. In the army, soldiers often commit the most vicious atrocities and cover up for one another etc. Because they are part of the mob, the individuals actually compete amongst one another to see who can be most cruel. When the authorities cover it up and let them get away with it, there is a kick in it for them which they wouldn’t experience ordinarily were they to abuse a family, for example.
            Similarly, the child-protection system. We have a tightly knit bunch of professionals, they operate in secret behind closed doors , they cover for each other and never blow the whistle or ‘snitch’ . They appear to laugh and snigger as they inflict the injustice and appear to get a kick out of seeing the victims squirm.
            However, we should not blame them for it .They aren’t evil in themselves .Anyone can fall victim to temptation when in a group situation. It takes a really rare kind of person to step back and say to colleagues. ” No ,this is wrong, we are doing wrong. Stop in the name of humanity”.

            I don’t mean Helen personally but other professionals should examine their consciences.

          6. helensparkles

            I don’t take much personally Angelo, I just asked a question about something that seemed to be implied.

            I disagree with pretty much everything else you say there.

          7. Angelo Granda

            Of course, i did not expect you to agree, Helen.
            Because you and your particular department are ‘lilywhites’ , you will not accept reality. I call upon you to think again and take some responsibility for the LA abuse of its power.
            As I said , the very clear guidelines and court procedures were put in place to protect the Public from well-known weaknesses and abuses which we all know Public servants impose upon citizens. Inhumanity and cruelty develops amongst soldiers and ALL public servants in positions of power UNLESS they are policed very strongly by management ( senior officers etc.). The CS is a breeding ground for abuse and cruelty ( bullying etc.). Not all, but I estimate, about half of the professionals go astray and cross the line. When it is reported to them, management do not investigate properly and cover -up misbehaviour. The more they get away with it, the more it has become the accepted norm. When just one slips through the net, so the offenders get the taste for it and malpractice gets out of control. In the end they do not even realise they are doing wrong. Its the norm! They think its permitted.That’s how institutions work!
            If you deny that SW’s flout correct procedures anytime .I don’t agree with you! If you deny OFSTED findings that the CS departments are inadequate due to bad management and bad training then I disagree with you again. They aren’t fit for purpose. MALPRACTICE IS TOO WIDESPREAD because management have not policed the staff strictly over the years and the LA has become a law unto itself.
            Every time they are caught out, the excuse is the same ,we have a duty to rescue the children from the risk of significant harm and keep them safe. We exceeded our duty and took the children without acting correctly and applying for a court order because we have to keep the children safe. We made false representations and misled the judge because we ‘thought’ the child was at risk of significant harm and we could not leave him or her where they were not safe. So it goes on and on.
            Perhaps were just one of the management to acknowledge the OFSTED findings and work on it ,we might get somewhere.

            However, I still think the main responsibility for miscarriages of justice lies with the judiciary which accepts malpractice and permits false evidence. The Family Courts aren’t strict enough.

          8. helensparkles

            I think you don’t like the legal framework and therefore you don’t like those who operate within it, whether that be judges or SW. I don’t think you always know what is the correct procedure, because sometimes your comments complain about something which is exactly as it should be, and I have said so. I have consistently said that malpractice is not acceptable, should be exposed, should be dealt with. I absolutely don’t think there is corruption and there is no gain within the system. LAs are set up and funded to work with the law as it stands, lobby your MP if you don’t like that.

  12. Angelo Granda

    The SW assessments and reports are also sent to the Guardian and all the other court ‘experts’ who also make wrong appraisals as a result.The Judge sees those too! It’s called the ‘ripple effect’.
    SW’s ,as public servants are granted great respect by the General Public and we are entitled to expect absolute integrity from them,indeed objective assessments and full substantive legal process ids promised to families.
    The Judge shows great trust in the CS evidence especially when made under oath (as it always is).They don’t check it out.They rely on the professional evidence AND if the respondents argue with it and attempt to object, the Judge will take a dim view of it and hold it against them in judgment.Most respondents are vulnerable, the SW’s don’t follow the working together frameworks and most are so shocked and traumatised they aren’t able to string two sentences together.Some are illiterate.As for there solicitors, well I won’t go into that here.
    How do you think the LA’s win 94 per cent of its cases?

    QUOTE; I think the sniggering is at the complaint not the SW. Try working out next time if someone is trying to humour you so you go away : UNQUOTE.

    Yes, that is tha attitude SW’s have most of the time and pasrticulasrly if a complaint is made.
    One said to a parent “Complaint…….. G o on then, put one in, we have our ways of dealing with complaints”.

    Reply
    1. helensparkles

      You really need to read the judgments which have been published criticising SW and Guardians. I don’t know what judges are supposed to check out except the evidence presented to them in court, everyone does have legal representation and their own statements?

      I’d love to know where your 94% comes from? But I would say that there are no winners. If an LA proves a case in court everyone loses. Having a view the case has been won is crass.

      I don’t have that attitude to complaints at all but I do think in that situation you can’t tell if that person as sniggering at you or the SW. I was talking about one example that you gave me and you extrapolate again.

      Reply
  13. Angelo Granda

    Thanks for your comments ,Helen, as always. The 94% is a statistic I saw somewhere on this resource, can’t remember exactly where but I took it at face value. I used the word snigger but was not saying the Police were sniggering at the CS. I think the Police was sniggering at the naiveté of anyone who expects the Police will investigate complaints against the LA in a C.P. case. I said knowingly because he remarked that many people make complaints about them which suggested he knew what was going on. However, the orders from above were that he was to take no action and refer me to the LA complaints procedure as usual. He never asked to see any evidence.
    Well, thank you for the advice about the Child Arrangements Order which I hope helps Sam. There is no defence for what has happened to her children.

    Reply
  14. Sam

    I don’t think targets actually work for anything. I can see why the Government introduced them, but they are counter productive as they are now what matters rather than a public service. It’ especially appalling when it is putting pressure on children.

    Reply
  15. Sam

    Targets within the NHS, within education, DWP , Courts (26 weeks care proceedings) …… Sorry I didn’t make myself clear, you may not be bothered about OFSTEAD but I am sure many CS managers/Children’s homes are, and practice is tailored towards inspections rather than day to day running of the service especially with the privatisation agenda.
    I also know that facts are altered in order to reach targets, because I have experienced this myself within the NHS

    Reply
    1. helensparkles

      I have not dismissed Ofsted at all, I have told you what I view as one of the issues with the inspection regime, both in CS and schools.

      Reply

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