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Three months imprisonment for seeing your grand-daughter

 

Apologies for the Tabloid-esque heading, but it is a fairly succinct way of expressing the outcome of Derbyshire County Council v Kathleen Danby 2014

 

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCOP/2014/B22.html

 

I know that for many of my regular contributors, the issue of commitals to prison for breaches of Court order are an emotive topic, and one can’t help but compare this sort of sentence with the sheets of criminal antecedents I regularly see where repeat offenders have convictions for burglary, theft, assaults, breaches of the peace, etc stretching to seven pages without spending any time at HerMajesty’s Pleasure.  On the other hand, if a Court makes an order to safeguard a vulnerable person and that order is breached, something has to happen to the person who breached the order, otherwise why bother making it.

I don’t have a solution here, but I have to wonder whether the sentences that are given for breaches of Court orders are somewhat out of kilter with sentences given for criminal  offences against children  (the grandmother in this case received a 3 month sentence for breaching a court order not to contact her granddaughter, and if she had instead been convicted of neglecting her the sentence would have been similar, when the latter would appear to most people to be the more serious issue)

 

I am mindful also that this is a sentence for an illicit contact in breach of a Court order, and the sentence is 3 months, in comparison to the six months that Mr Quasim Shah got for what seems to me to have been a much more serious (and possibly abusive) situation.  http://suesspiciousminds.com/2014/03/14/contempt-adult-breaching-a-recovery-order/    I would think that the general public, thinking about these two cases would have expected Mr Shah to have got a sentence much greater than twice what Ms Danby got for their relative transgressions.

 

Anyway, on with the case

 

The young person B, is 18 and has a learning disability. She had been the subject of care proceedings and is now the subject of Court of Protection proceedings. Within the latter set of proceedings, an order was made setting out things that her grandmother, Ms Danby, is prohibited from doing

 

“The Second Respondent Kathleen Danby is forbidden to do any of the following, either by herself or by instructing or encouraging another person to do so.

“(a) From approaching or attempting to approach B personally or through instructing and/or encouraging any other person so to do.

“(b) from communicating with B in any way whatsoever, whether in writing or by post, telephone, fax, text messaging, e-mail or any other form of telecommunication or information technology, including internet, video calling (i.e. Skype), whether directly or indirectly through another, save that she may receive a single telecommunication call from B on a loudspeaker and supervised by the local authority their servants and/or agents to take place on the first Wednesday of each calendar month between the hours seven o’clock p.m. and eight o’clock p.m. only in strict compliance with the declarations on the face and the schedule of the order of Her Honour Judge …” (it says “Taylor”) that should be “… Thomas of even date (annexed hereto).

“(c) For attending at, entering or attempting to enter or go within J town (the town in which B’s placement is situated) either personally or through instructing and/or encouraging any other person to do so.

“(d) From attending at, entering or attempting to enter or go within 100 metres of XCollege, either personally or through instructing and/or encouraging any other person to do so.

“(e) From loitering within a radius of 100 metres of Y placementeither personally or through instructing and/or encouraging any other person to do so.

“(f) From loitering within a radius of 100 metres X College, either personally or through instructing and/or encouraging any other person to do so.”

Ms Danby did not attend the committal hearing. She would have been entitled to do so, and entitled to free legal representation. I do not know why she did not attend and it would be wrong to speculate.

The Court heard evidence about three alleged breaches of that order

 

 

“In breach of paragraph 1(b) of the injunction order on or before 28th February 2014 Kathleen Danby through herself and/or instructed or encouraged another person contacted and/or communicated with B to arrange to meet her 28th February 2014 at or about 17.27 hours outside the Z public house, next door to Y Placement (the placement). 

“2. In breach of paragraph 1(a) of the injunction order on or about 28th February 2014 at or about 17.27 hours Kathleen Danby met with B at or about 17.27 hours outside the Z public house, which is adjacent to the driveway of B’s placement, and passed to B a package, who immediately concealed it about her person.

“3. In breach of paragraph 1(e) on or about 28th February 2014 at or about 17.23 hours loitered within 100 metres of Y placement with the intention of meeting of B.”

 

The Court heard, in relation to those matters, evidence that B had effectively given her carers the slip on 28th February and that CCTV footage showed her meeting with and talking to an elderly lady, identified by people who know her as being Kathleen Danby.  B returned to her carers very animated and talking about having seen her grandmother, and her behaviour was later adversely affected, including attempts to self-harm.

 

 

  • on 28th of February. On that day I am persuaded, not on a balance of probabilities but because I am certain, that B had a meeting with her grandmother. P.C. Hamilton has seized CCTV footage from the X public house which shows the road from the pub which is next to the driveway to Y Placement where B lives and he sets out what can be seen very clearly in his written evidence. He says this:

 

 

“I viewed the footage in a private office inside the pub. The footage shows a lady, who I can describe as being white, approximately sixty-five-years, approximately five foot four inches in height and had prominent white hair that is collar length. She enters the pub by the front door at 17.21 and camera 13. The footage then shows the lady walked to the rear of the pub and going to the toilets. The lady is then seen leave the pub by the front entrance at 17.23 and stand towards the edge of the camera footage close to the pub car park. At 17.27 B is then seen running towards the lady with arms open wide and immediately hugs the lady who is seen reciprocating. They then stand in the same position for a few minutes during which a car parks, pulling up, parking across the road. The lady and B then walk back up towards the pub entrance and some items are passed between the two.” [In fact I think it is one item that I saw]. “The lady is lastly seen handing something to B. The pair split up with B walking over to the car and the lady walked past the entrance to the pub, past the entrance to Y placement.”

 

  • He himself says he never had seen the original picture of Mrs. Danby, so he cannot personally identify her, but for reasons I shall come to it is clear that it is she.

 

 

 

  • What is also clear from that CCTV footage alone is that the lady concerned was loitering, as is complained of by the local authority, in the area nearby to the Y placement, so that of itself is of course partly a breach of the injunction.

 

 

 

  • I have said that this lady is the grandmother of B is absolutely clear. It is clear not just from the intimate way in which the two greeted each other and the passing of items, but because it is clear that B went on to describe the meeting to Mr A as being with her grandmother. For that night she was due to go out to another care home. She had been having difficulties with her co-resident and Mr. A was taking her to a different home for the evening to have time to cool down. He was waiting for a taxi to take them and at 5.30, approximately, he saw B speaking to an elderly woman. When the taxi came he called to her, but she did not initially come. He got in the taxi, it moved slightly along the road, then he shouted for her to come over and eventually she did and she came over to the taxi and got in.

 

 

 

  • He noted that for the rest of the evening that B was “hyper”, to use his word, but she said this to him: “I bet you’d like to know who that is.” And he said he didn’t. “No, that was my grandmother.” “Which grandmother?” “The one from Scotland.” “She’s come all that way?” “She came to see me.” It was thereafter for the rest of the night that B kept discussing both her grandmother and her father in considerable detail. Indeed, she had with her that night a DVD that her grandmother had previously supplied to her of her life going to school when she was a young girl.

 

 

 

  • So it would seem that B knew whom she was going to meet and knew precisely what was going to happen and so it is clear, in my judgment, that there had been a pre-arranged meeting. It is beyond mere coincidence that B should be in the street at the very same time as her grandmother from Scotland was in the area waiting too as if there was an appointment to meet. It must have been pre-arranged; it could not be a mere accident.

 

 

 

  • There is further corroboration for it being the grandmother in the evidence of Mr H for he says this on discussing matters with B on 4th of March.

 

 

“I then asked B about her meeting on 28th of February with her grandmother. B said her grandmother had come to see if she was okay and safe as F had told her grandmother she had previously absconded and been missing. I asked her if her grandmother had given her anything. She said she had not. I said the police had CCTV footage of the meeting and the police have stated that Mrs. Danby handed B an envelope/package which B then concealed in her top/jacket. She said the police were lying about this. She then became agitated and appears to be low in mood. She stated she did not want to talk further.”

 

  • P.C. Hamilton spoke to B on 1st of March. She denied seeing her grandmother then, though it is plain from what she said both the evening before and to Mr. H that she did. He noted that B’s behaviour has been deteriorating, even though, as the local beat bobby, he has noticed that she has become more settled generally whilst at Y Placement– in other words, it was the events of late February of this year that have made her more volatile and unpredictable.

 

 

 

  • Ms C tells me of further events on 2nd of March. B absconded again on that date and on 6th of March she absconded from a holiday in Rhyl in North Wales. She describes the recent behaviour of B as deteriorating and out of character. Evidence that is corroborated further by Mr. H and by Ms B.

 

 

 

  • So it is that in my view I can be satisfied beyond doubt, I am satisfied to the criminal standard of proof, that the breaches of injunction complained of by the local authority are all made out.

 

 

 

The Court satisfied itself to the criminal standard of proof that there had been a breach of the Court order, and went on to consider sentence

 

 

  • The evidence, as I observed at the final hearing of her future residence and care plans, pointed unequivocally for the need for her to have a period of peace from intervention in her life from her grandmother and her father, hence the final orders that I made.

 

 

 

  • I am sure, too, that the deterioration in her behaviour results from these meetings with her grandmother. Her behaviour has deteriorated; she has self-harmed; she has assaulted staff; she has threatened her co-resident and she has run away. Not in a sense that she disappears by being an hour late, which she does from time to time as is perhaps typical late teenage behaviour, but because she literally runs away and has to be found with the help of the police.

 

 

 

  • Accordingly, I take a serious view of the behaviour of Kathleen Danby and it is plain to me that unless restrained by serious punishment she will simply continue to behave the way she has.

 

 

 

  • I remind myself that the case of Hale v. Tanner sets out that punishment is not the aim of the court, but rather to express its concern at breaches of its orders and the need to effect protection. In those circumstances, in my judgment, there should be a suitable punishment.

 

 

 

  • Miss Cavanagh has reminded me of the options available to me – although of course the local authority has not had the temerity to tell me what to do. I could impose a custodial sentence and then order the case to be listed before me for review. So, I could issue a warrant and then if this lady is arrested or on the review date, as the case maybe, the sentence can be reviewed and it can be reviewed downwards if I have a wrong impression of this lady’s attitude and approach.

 

 

 

  • In the circumstances for each and every one of these breaches of the injunction I shall sentence this lady to three months’ imprisonment concurrently.

 

Ms Danby would have the opportunity to come before the Court to ‘purge her contempt’  that is, to give an apology for her behaviour and an explanation for it, in the hope of the Court ending her sentence or reducing it. That may be more likely in this case because she did not attend.

 

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34 responses

  1. Well if she has the chance to ask for a reduced sentence later I’m not going to be outraged. Just how much time and money are we supposed to spend getting this woman to comply with an order made to protect her granddaughter. What else is likely to make her stop?

  2. Ashamed to be British

    Maybe the court might have considered, that by taking the stance that nothing is changing for the positive by having this restriction in place (if it’s not working, let’s try a different route) it might be worth overturning the original decision to allow regular contact with the grandmother, putting it under review to determine whether regular contact stopped insecurity of the grand daughter, by means of less self harming, running away etc.

    But no, that would be far too sensible, let’s lock ‘em up instead and allow a vulnerable adult who CLEARLY loves to see her grandmother to continue to feel distressed and unhappy without contact to the point of putting her self at significant risk of harm. That in itself is abuse

  3. forcedadoption

    NON MOLESTATION ORDERS :- can forbid a mother from molesting her own daughter ! It is a total distortion of the English Language to pretend this includes sending a birthday card or waving at one’s children in the street as happened in previous cases.To Molest =To intentionally annoy (Oxford dictionary) but no proof has ever been produced in these cases or any other cases that children have been intentionally annoyed by parents from whom they have been forcibly separated.
    Judges guidelines instruct them to interpret statutes in such a way as to give effect to the intentions of those who drafted them.
    Non molestation orders were clearly drafted to protect one person from violence committed on them by another person.(more often than not by a man on his wife or partner);There was no way that it was intended to cut off mothers from their children and no way that “molestation” could in most such cases apply to contacts between non criminal parent and child .The judges in Vicky Haigh’s case and many other cases have acted “ultra vires”, outside their powers and should be restrained by police and by parliament if nothing else has any effect.

    NO CONTACT ORDERS:- These can forbid all contact face to face ,by email,phone ,or via a third party even when the child initiates the contact.There is no statute or other legal authority permitting judges to make such orders and to make them penal.
    These orders are often made for long or even indefinite periods as happened in the case of a father recently jailed for breaching a no contact order (made 15 years earlier) because he congratulated his son on facebook on his 21st birthday long after a care order had expired and was therefore discharged.
    It is contended that no judge has the legal authority derived from any statute to make such draconian orders infringing Article 10 of the Human Rights Act and also the United Nations Convention.Such judges act “ultra vires” outside their powere and should as a last resort be restrained by police and by Act of Parliament.

    • I do agree with you in part Ian – there is statutory power and authority within Children Act proceedings to make an order for no contact, and there’s statutory power and authority to attach penal notices. But in this case, the order was made in the Court of Protection, which is using the Mental Capacity Act*, and it appears to me that the order was made under the Inherent Jurisdiction – that, I would agree with you is a power that has taken a small piece of statute and over the years expanded and expanded it to the point where High Court judges are now saying in judgment sentences such as “theoretically there are no limits to the inherant jurisdiction” with no qualms.

      (*I think that there ARE powers under the MCA where a deputy is appointed for the Court to make an order that restricts or suspends contact, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here – there was a recent case about those very powers, which was too technical for this blog)

      I think that in these committal judgments, it would also be appropriate to publish the anonymised judgment that led to the ORDER itself being made, so that the public can see (a) the reason for the order (b) assess whether it was justified and (c) importantly whether the principles of article 8 were properly applied.

      I’m afraid that Judges do have those powers (you are right that Parliament could take them away) – but the Human Rights Act does famously apply to Courts and they must be sure that article 5, article 6 and article 8 are being adhered to. We really don’t see a lot of analysis about article 5 in these committal judgments and barely any article 8.

    • I’m not sure that such blanket statements do justice to the wide breadth of different circumstances.

      We’ve seen cases where the birth parents aren’t allowed to make contact, but clearly (to our mind) should be. Whilst I’m in favour of respecting the law, I can see that prison for breaches in those cases would be way to severe a punishment.

      However….

      We’re currently looking after two children who been removed from their birth family, against the parents wishes (though as I describe later, not against the children’s wishes). The father has spent significant time in prison for violence against the mother and children, and when there was contact the children would come back extremely distressed. Even when contact was changed to just the mother they we very upset, because she had very little independence, and effectively acted as an agent on behalf of the father, greatly upsetting the children through her actions. Their general demeanour only lifted when, a year or so ago, all contact was ended.

      By unfortunate means, the birth parents have learnt of our names and addresses, and are now regularly making threats against us and everyone involved with the boys (teachers, doctors, scout leaders, etc).

      The birth parents have made several undertakings to the courts to stop these actions, but broken them less than 24hours later. He has explicitly stated in court that he intends to do everything he can to undermine all present and future foster and adoptive placements, and the mother is fully supporting him in these actions. Even their indirect contact is totally inappropriate, aiming to pressurize the children and make them feel guilty for getting on with their lives.

      We are currently in the process of getting non-molestation orders, and when they are adopted, non-contact orders will most likely be made.

      As I’ve said before, my wife and I are fully in favour as children going back to their parents if at all possible, and irrespective of this try and make contact as positive as possible. In this case we (and the courts) feel such a return just isn’t safe for them, and the parents nature means any form of contact is proving extremely disruptive and upsetting. We are living in fear of him turning up on a dark night and doing something nasty along the lines of what he has previously been sent to prison for. Though we’ve tried to hide most of this from the children, they have picked up on what is happening and have been greatly unsettled.

      So, I ask you the question: If we get an order and he breaks it, what should happen?

      They have no assets, living on benefits, so fines mean nothing. Just telling them not to do it again will do nothing, as shown by their breaking past undertakings, and his being sent to prison in the past when suspended sentences have been activated.

      Personally, I’d like him sent to prison if he breaks the order, for as long as possible. I’d also like the children to be able to choose whether to make contact (something they are currently vehemently opposed to) as opposed to it being something the birth parents can force on them.

      Overall, blankets statements of “x never being right” and “y always being wrong”, just don’t seem appropriate in these cases, and whether a particular judgement is right or wrong can only be judged when you’ve got “all” the evidence (which may or may not come before the judge…).

      • Ashamed to be British

        I still want to know how you’ve got all this information to be able pass comment on the parents and whether he should be locked up for a long time

      • AtoB: Some of the information came out in the background material quite correctly passed to us when we took the children on, the rest in the on-going court case where we are trying to protect ourselves from the on-going harassment and threats.

        In terms of my view that he should be locked up for a long time; I think I am well within my rights to hold the opinion that if a convicted criminal with a long history of extreme violence against women, turns up at my door, late at night, when I am not home, and threatens my wife, despite an explicit court order forbidding such, then he should be sent down for a long time. I hope this never happens, and even if it does I won’t get to chose the sentence, but I don’t think it unreasonable that I want the threat he represents removed for as long as possible. The fact that he is a birth parent cannot be seen to place him above the laws by which the rest of us have to abide.

        Perhaps you’d like to tell me what you think should happen in such a case? Or in fact more generally, in the case where someone with a proven violent past breaks a non-molestation order?

        As I said at the start of my comment, I know of at least one case, where in my opinion based on the limited facts at my disposal, I think birth parents are at the wrong end of a non-molestation order and that prison in the case of breach would be grossly disproportionate.

        My original point was that a blanket “all non-molestation orders are bad, and prison is never justified for birth parents” is wrong. Judgements have to be on a case-by-case basis.

      • Ashamed to be British

        Hmm, I’ve thought about this carefully in order to give a reply that serves it justice. In my opinion, this should go to criminal court only, the trouble we have, is that family courts are dealing with criminal matters, they are not equipped to do so, any more than a criminal court deals with a family matter.
        But please, don’t always take on board what the LA tell you, in your case you’ve had 1st hand experience of threats etc, and that must be dealt with, however, I personally know of a case where the father was ‘the target’ to the point where files were altered to put his name in front of every negative point, each time the paternal family broke the law, used drugs, got drunk, it didn’t fit the criteria, so the names were changed to the father having done it.
        The father also, by the age of two years old ‘had an extensive criminal record’ did you know that nobody in the UK can have a criminal record before the age of ten? (unless extreme circumstances I believe) when this was questioned within a cpc – the police suddenly ‘could not access all of the relevant records due to a computer glitch’ they never did access them or back up what they had said … there are NO lengths the LA won’t go to, to damage a person’s life & reputation.

        You stated ” In this case we (and the courts) feel such a return just isn’t safe for them”

        It worries me that FC’s have any say at all in future care plans, that is a matter for the guardian and the court, FC’s are paid to make sure the child is safe and well, mentally & physically, not become social workers. It is my understanding that FC’s don’t have a say in how court proceedings should commence

      • AtoB: When I say “In this case we (and the courts) feel it isn’t safe”, I should have been clearer. I mean “Our personal opinion (which has no standing or input to the case) and the courts (which make the decision) feel it isn’t safe”.

        I know there are occasions when FC’s are called to court to witness their experiences or disclosures made to them, but that is not the case here.

        While conspiracy against the father is in theory possible, the nature of the threats made directly by the father to my wife and myself means I’m more than inclined to believe his reported convictions as fact. The children’s reaction toward him back this up.

        As I said before, I know of at least one case where the birth parents have clearly been very badly treated, so I’m not saying these thing don’t happen.

        What I am saying is that there are _some_ very bad parent, causing great harm to their children, and in _some_ of these non-molestation orders and non-contact orders, along with custodial sanction are the best option.

        Your first comment appears to be a clear cut statement that this is never the case. I am just sharing my own experience to the contrary

        Can you accept that there are occasions when children need to be protected from their parents, and that sometimes a clean break is in the children’s best interest?. I’m not saying always, or even the majority or cases, just sometimes? When that is the case, can you accept that criminal sanction might be required and appropriate, if the parents chose to ignore court orders?

      • Ashamed to be British

        I’ve always said social services are a necessary evil, I’m not against them, I’m against the lies and the way they treat people and stitch them up.

        All they have to do is be honest with as much compassion as possible, I attended a hospital last year where the LA refused the mother into any meetings, she was not allowed to give her views, the sw spoke to her like crap, and they stole her baby from hospital, she was not informed of anything regarding her children (like LAC reviews etc) they lied and lied then when caught out lying thanks to some friendly nurse who slipped some paperwork in her notes, they continued to lie !

        Her children were adopted, no support, no assessments, and I heard the sw say himself that was the aim so thats whats happening

        Evil

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  5. Yes,but,SM, this case is about a lady who apparently chose not to attend court and raise any of her convention rights which might apply. Access to the Shah case you mentioned seems to be restricted, but really to get a fair picture you would need to look at a range of committal cases.
    As for the history of the previous proceedings ,I’m sure it would be illuminating for the public but surely it should happen when Ms D can be got to court?

    • A fair point Suffolk Girl – as I said in the piece, we don’t know why Ms Danby did not attend Court (there’s some suggestion in the judgment that she travelled from Scotland to see the child, so that might have some impact on her travelling to London). I think some sentencing guidelines on committal cases would not go amiss – particularly as more and more people find themselves in Court unrepresented when orders were made, and thus haven’t had legal advice about the likely consequences of breaking the orders.

      • Ashamed to be British

        Not really, if there are consequences, there will be a penal notice attached

  6. forcedadoption

    I respectfully suggest that judges Thomas and Cardinal be thrown into a top security prison for several years due to their gross and illegal breaches of human rights.The grandmother had never been convicted of harming a child or anyone else;The grandaughter had no convictions either;To make orders breaking up what was left of a family contrary to Article 8 of the Human Rights Act and to send a grandmother to prison for talking to her daughter is an outrageous and brutal action by judges who should not for many years ever see the light of day let alone sitting in a court dispensing rough justice on the helpless.

  7. forcedadoption

    FOSTERER 5 ;- There can be NO justification ever for forbidding non criminal parents from at least contacting their children or grandchildren by email,telephone,letter,or via the internet.
    Parents or grandparents who have not been charged or convicted of inflicting sexual or physical harm on a child should never,never,be forbidden to make indirect contact at the very least and usually direct face to face contact as well !

    • Ashamed to be British

      I think Skype or similar is a very useful tool in cases like this, I’ve asked many a time for the court or the LA to consider this as a means of contact, on the basis that the children can see the absent family members, (Letters, emails txts etc, have no tone of voice or body language and can be misinterpreted) there is always the option of shutting down the call if anyone becomes angry or distressed, or displays innapropriate behaviour/words.

      Every LA I have asked to consider this as an option so far, has refused, it’s the perfect solution, yet they won’t entertain it.

      IMHO I would suggest they are afraid that the child might report the opposite of what the social workers have told the family.

      • One of the problems with Skype is that it is difficult to monitor and there is no record of what is said. It isn’t (for obvious reasons) sensible to ask foster carers to act as contact supervisors. It would only really be appropriate for the kind of contact that doesn’t really need to be supervised and is only taking place over skype for some other reason (e.g. distance for grandparents).

      • Ashamed to be British

        I dont agree, a fc or social worker could easily spend time with the child on skype, or even a contact worker, thats what they’re paid for.

        Skype calls can be recorded

      • AtbB, as far as it goes it’s true that social workers or contact supervisors could supervise Skype contact but then it rather begs the question of why there isn’t some direct supervised contact taking place.

        The problem with foster carers doing it is that foster carers don’t really want to run the risk of being dragged into proceedings as witnesses, or to be seen as being on the ‘side’ of the local authority, nor do they necessarily feel comfortable being asked to take on the role of contact supervisor too. It is hard enough to get foster carers as it is without giving them additional duties.

        I have to admit I didn’t know Skype now has a record function.

    • Surely the obvious reason is because there are, sadly, some cases where contact is used by a parent to try to destabilise a long-term placement. Similarly, there are some parents that cause destabilisation without necessarily intending to.

      When you are dealing with a child that cannot go home and has no prospect of going home you have to ask if it is better to deprive the child of contact with the parent or to run the risk of long-term placements collapsing. Parents who fall into either of these groups are often unwilling to work on their ability to have contact that is a positive experience for the child.

      We’ve all seen the contact notes where a parent is heard telling their child that the foster carers are evil and are trying to steal the child etc. You can then move to indirect contact, but if the parent insists on sending inappropriate messages then there is very little you can do save for trying to get the parent to send appropriate things and restrict anything inappropriate.

  8. forcedadoption

    Jim ,what do you expect when parents see the children they love taken because of risks that may never happen? (A parent with a violent past but nothing involving children for example)
    Only a wicked and heartless judge could make orders for the wife or partner of such a person forbidding any contact on pain of jail ! Such judges should go to prison themselves for deliberately breaching human rights of the child to speak to it’s mother using get out clauses that surely were never intended to have such results by those who drafted the articles in the first place.Only parents that love their children would go through the hostility and grilling of the family courts yet they almost always lose due to the prejudice pointed out by no less a person than L.J.Thorpe !

    • Be all that as it may, you’re just sidestepping the issue. For some children there is no prospect of rehabilitation to parents. If the parents insist contact being destabilising then you have to ask if it is better for the child to a) continue to have that relationship, but at the cost of having a series of unsuccessful placements, regular moves and no attachment or b) having a stable long-term placement but not having contact with the family (subject to review).

      • forcedadoption

        No sidestepping Jim .For non criminal parents there should always be prospects of rehabilitation.Surely if Baby P’s mother can get face to face contact with her surviving children when still in jail then mothers who have never been charged with or convicted of any offence against children should not be forbidden contact and then jailed for sending a birthday card ? Most parents who contact me but are denied contact with their children cry “we have none nothing wrong” and a read through of their judgements usually confirms that to be the case.How can any humane person continue to support “punishment without crime” ?

      • Ashamed to be British

        Many are forbidden contact if the child reveals abuse in care, many are denied contact for raising concerns of abuse (especially sexual) many are denied contact for crying or telling their child they love them and are fighting for them

      • Forced adoption: it seems to me that your argument rests on the phrase “non-criminal’, and is essentially saying that children should only ever be removed when harm can be proven to the ” beyond reasonable doubt” level as opposed to the “on balance of probabilities” level.

        I can see the appeal of this position, but surely it fails to recognise that we’re not just talking about punishment for past crimes, which in many ways just impacts the liberty of the accused (hence ‘no doubt” is a fair test). We’re talking about a decision which balances the impact of a decision on the birth parent against the ongoing impact on the children.

        My understanding was that this potential conflict between the parents desires and the children needs, was why the test was at the civil level. Until their age of majority the children have no option to cut their ties with the parents, even if it would be in their best interest. The test and the courts responsibility is to do what on the balance of probability is best for the children.

        Whilst it may be hard on the parents, this feels like the right nalance because children are a gift to take care of rather than property to own.

        It does place a very high burden of responsibility on everyone involved in the case.

        Their duty is effectively to speak on behalf of the children, who are unable to speak for themselves.

        And sadly, bad things clearly happen through the failings or even malice of those involved.

        However I personally feel the approach of speaking for children who can’t speak for themselves is correct, and that the test is therefore correct. It isn’t about punishing parents it is about representing the children who lack a voice otherwise.

        Or do you think the rights of the parents trump those of any minor?

        As long as you don’t get caught doing something outright criminal, do you think parents should be left to treat their children however they fancy, whatever the impact on the children and the adults they become?

      • forcedadoption

        You ask “As long as you don’t get caught doing something outright criminal, do you think parents should be left to treat their children however they fancy, whatever the impact on the children and the adults they become?”
        The answer to that question is an emphatic YES !! What you are implying with the phrase “however they fancy” is that parents should only treat their children the way YOU and /or the Establishment fancy. Live the way we say, or lose your kids ! Yet surely “diversity” is the current buzzword ?
        I strongly oppose “punishment without crime” .Only those who break the law should be punished;not those who offend the sensibilities of social workers . Child cruelty should be a matter for the police and the criminal courts not family courts and social workers both of which should be scrapped or drastically reformed .
        You mention speaking for children who cannot speak for themselves but these children are denied the right to go and speak for themselves in family courts in case they beg to be returned to their parents ;so they are represented by guardians who obediently testify that the children do not want to see their parents at all,Thus, their true voices are silenced; When taken into care children are forbidden to use laptops or mobile phones and on parental supervised visits forbidden to complain about physical or sexual abuse by fosterers,guardians,or social workers all of whom seem to have rights that trump those of the children.
        Babies are taken at birth from non criminal and non addictive mothers for risk of emotional abuse! Might as well arrest anyone with a criminal record looking in a jeweller’s shop window because there is a risk they might go in and steal something !
        Children have the right to live with their parents if they wish and not be dragged off at around 6;30am by uniformed police;There are many videos on line showing such children screaming and crying as they are brutally hauled off, just to satisfy the egos of social workers and other pseudo “do gooders” who think that only THEY know what is best for the rest of us ………..

      • Ashamed to be British

        Fosterer, children are usually better off left at home, no matter how disorganised or chaotic their lives us, the damage caused from ripping a child away from it’s family is catastrophic, children love their parents no matter what, it is an unconditional deal.Tearing that bond apart is ACTUAL abuse, not risk of, but actual

        http://www.originsnsw.com/mentalhealth/id4.html

        It is hard to swallow your points on courts doing the right thing by the child, who has no voice, while I don’t see any other option tbf, I wouldn’t trust social workers who do the ground work to build a case on a family they dislike and destroy them, for no other reason that they just don’t like them, this spirals out of control, until the lies have build such a tangled web that it is impossible to undo, straighten up and get it right, especially now there is a 26 week timeframe, the parent is doomed, then the guardian comes along, copy & paste, there’s your report for the court, expert witnesses such as psychologists, often diagnose parents with borderline personality disorder, wtf is that anyway?

        Diagnosis from unqualified professionals, copy & pasting reports without seeing the parents or children, falsifying records, none of it is impartial, independant is just a word throw about to make everyone breath a little, there’s no such thing as independant, even the solicitors screw the parents over.

        We have the proof of all of this, yet it still goes unheard. FORCED ADOPTION should NEVER, NEVER happen, it is too final, like placing the noose round a neck, a pardon is no good once you’re dead

      • I can see we aren’t going to agree on this, but I’m going to have one last go.

        Having seen a range of cases, I ardently believe that adoption and care matters are rarely black or white.

        Even in the absence of my fostering experience, just from the people I have met in my life, I know there are some absolutely terrible people who do great harm to those around them, in particular their partners and children. These actions often fall short of _provable_ criminal activity, but that doesn’t in anyway reduce their severity.

        My sister was for a long time in a deeply abusive relationship, including violence, but because she wouldn’t testify nothing could be done. This made my unhappy, but at some level, as she was an adult, it was essentially her business.

        If they had had children (which they didn’t) the children might well have been exposed to similar abuse, and it would have been next to impossible to prove to the level of a criminal test given her refusal to act as a witness.

        I strongly believe we, as a society, have a duty to protect the weak from the abusive actions of the strong.

        I don’t believe being a parent gives anyone a special status which either means there are essentially redeemable, or that their children always have a special bond with them.

        I therefore simply do not agree with your statement:

        “Fosterer, children are usually better off left at home, no matter how disorganised or chaotic their lives us, the damage caused from ripping a child away from it’s family is catastrophic, children love their parents no matter what, it is an unconditional deal. Tearing that bond apart is ACTUAL abuse, not risk of, but actual”

        In particular I know of a good few children who absolutely 100% did not have “unconditional” love for the parents, due to the terrible cruelty inflicted upon them. I have seen them go on to have happy and fulfilling lives after being adopted, which I believe they simply would not have had otherwise.

        I _do_ believe all children have the need of unconditional love from a parent, but sometime this isn’t something their birth parents offer, and instead it has to come from other sources, sometimes relatives, sometimes adoptive parents, sometimes other sources.

        Actions not biology dominate. Whether or not the people looking after a child are the biological parents, they either offer the support required, or they don’t (for what ever reason). If they don’t, a successful attachment may not occur and if abuse is present then changing the “parents” may be critical for the child’s development and happiness.

        We can argue about the rights of the parents and the impact of such a change on them. Injustices occur, perhaps frequently, but I do not believe this means we should standby and do nothing until a provable criminal act occurs. The barrier to extreme action should be high, but not that high…

      • Ashamed to be British

        You misunderstand me, I am not against adoption at all, I am against child abuse but I am also against FORCED adoption, it is cruel and barbaric, children being adopted on ‘risk of’? We are all a risk of doing or saying something.

        Did you read that link? It is so so true. Statistically, children who stay at home in chaos fare much better than those who end up in care, care children generally end up as drug addicts, prostitutes (or at least very promiscuous) in jail, have mental health issues and often commit suicide.

        I would not stand by and see a child hurt, be it by the parents or the LA.

        Source: both parents adopted. Me a product of the care system, my brother, deceased thanks to the care system, me a foster carer of a one time prostitute, nana to a child the LA were aiming to steal for very flimsy reasons (by the time they’d finished with us we were the devil incarnate) but didn’t count on me being a stronger legal mind than them

        Do yourself a favour, please please, look up Jonas Stadden, no need to be in ‘care’ – not a lot of caring going on there, he died completely unecessarily through pure and simple medical neglect

  9. forcedadoption

    Fosterer 5 I answered your question in some detail earlier on this blog at 8.43am june 10th and hope you are happy with and agree with my reply !

  10. Reading the comments I believe there is a lot of confusion over this case children’s act being quoted and so forth, this is nothing to do with the children act as this 18 year old women is under the power of the court of protection therefore the mental health act applies to this women not the children’s act.

    This 18 year old women will be under the power of the court of protection until she dies.
    Is this lawful?

    The answers are:
    YES if this women has no mental capacity and NO if she has mental capacity.

    It seems that this women although mentally handicapped does make decisions for herself as she runs away a lot and I would of thought the reason why is because she wants to be with her family so this 18 year old does have mental capacity .

    The fact is every time she attempts to make contact with her father or grandmother or vice versa the court of protection imprisons dad and now granny as a punishment for what this 18 year old women wants.

    This is a very very sick case and needs full public attention so as to understand what is happening in secret in our secret courts.

    Nobody I say Nobody should be imprisoned in secret All committal hearings MUST BE MADE
    PUBLIC

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