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what should you do if social services steal your children?

An attempt to give some practical advice

I was reading this blog post at the always excellent Not So Big Society 

involving an unfortunate father who had his children removed and has reacted to this by constructing a case against Leeds City Council for genocide, which has been struck out and is now awaiting an appeal in the High Court against that striking out.

I think one can never, ever, underestimate what a profoundly awful experience having a bad time with Social Services must be. There is very little (possibly nothing, now that capital punishment no longer exists in this country) that the law can do to you that is worse than taking your children away.  And for that reason, whilst people like this are wrong and misguided, I can see why they are driven to these awful pieces of decision-making.

I’ll make no bones about it – I’m a lawyer for social workers, and I present cases in which sometimes social workers have to be asking for children to be removed and placed in care.

Sometimes, hopefully rarely, that’s the wrong thing to do. Sometimes, it is unequivocally the right thing to do. But almost universally, and far dwarfing those ‘definitely right’ or ‘definitely wrong’ cases, it is very sad.

It’s certainly not done to spite the parent, or for money, or to meet targets, or any of the other conspiracy theories; ultimately it is because a professional who is responsible in law for keeping that child safe reaches a point where they no longer feel that they can keep the child safe at home.

And you won’t believe it, but it honestly is the hope of social workers and people like me, in all but the very worst cases, that going to Court will bring about a change that will let us send the children home.

That doesn’t help, if it is your child. I understand that.

But I’m sure that what you want, if your child has been taken off you, is to get your child back.  All of the Freeman of the Land, and your law doesn’t apply to me, and all social workers are wan*ers, and shouting the odds, really, really don’t get your child back.   The success rates of all of those people who nod at Christopher Brooker’s columns and tell other parents how to fight the system is really very poor, honestly.

Other than factual determination cases, where there’s something that looks like a deliberate or non-accidental injury and the Court looks into it carefully and finds out it isn’t, in eighteen years of child protection work, I have NEVER seen a case where a parent is told by the Court, you can keep your child and you need never speak to a social worker again.

If you’re going to get your child back, social workers are going to be a part of your life.  So making social workers frightened of you, or not being able to work with you, or think that you’re a liar or unstable, isn’t going to help.

That’s not to say that you have to like them – or even be terribly nice to them. Your best approach is  “I know you’ve got a job to do, and I don’t like that you doing it has hurt my family, but I also know that I’ve got to show you that I can care for my children”

I’ve seen an awful lot of websites out there giving really really bad advice to parents in care proceedings, so I thought I’d have a crack at redressing the balance.

Here are some brief, practical, non “I’ll sue you for genocide” suggestions. Nobody can guarantee success in care proceedings, but you can make the central principle that the Court works to get children back home if at all possible work for you.  Nothing I’m suggesting here is beyond you, if you try and you ask for help when you need it.  It isn’t a guaranteed recipe of success, that’s up to you, but it certainly improves your chances.

1.  Work out a way of dealing with your social worker without shouting at them. I represented parents for a few years, and what I always told them was “you can call the social worker whatever you want in your bathroom, where nobody can hear you, but don’t say that stuff to the children, or the contact supervisors, or the social worker”    – don’t make it hard to be liked.   Being likeable doesn’t mean being a doormat, but being likeable is something you shouldn’t underestimate. It’s like chemistry.

2. All care proceedings are about giving something up. It’s unavoidable. If you hope to go into that final hearing and talk the Court into you letting you look after the children in exactly the same way as you’ve always done, you’re going to lose. Whether it is giving up drugs, alcohol, a relationship with someone violent, smacking the children, not doing housework, sleeping till two pm, you’re going to have to give up something.  Nearly all the time in court proceedings is spent with people either not accepting that they have to give something up, or pretending that they have given it up and catching them out.

If, instead, you approach it with the idea that “I want to change so that my children will be happier  or better looked after with me than they were” and try to change, you’re already in the top 5% of parents in care proceedings by that one simple decision.  And if you ask for help, and listen to the advice, you’re moving towards the top 2%.    Which means, when the Court is listening to your case, they are thinking “this mum/dad is so much better than the people we normally see”

3.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Honestly, everyone. When you make one, admit it and say that you want to learn from it, to do better in the future. Giving up things you’ve done for years isn’t easy, and you’re entitled to get help with that, and you’re allowed to say that some days it is hard, and some days you might need a bit more help than usual.

4. Turn up to all the contacts  – or at least, don’t miss contact unless you really have to, and tell people when you’re not going to come. When you’re at the contact, don’t be nasty about the foster carers to the children – the children need to know that even though you love them, it is okay for them to be with the foster carers and to like them and have a nice time.  If you can take something to contact that will be fun for the children, that goes down well. Don’t take loads of sweets and presents, some paper and crayons and spending time with the children works wonders. Get down on the floor and play with them.  Don’t promise the children bikes, or ponies, or x-boxes when they come home.  Don’t ask them to say that they love you and want to come home.

5. Nothing says “I’m a paranoid oddball who can’t be trusted” more than tape-recording every interaction you have.  It won’t be evidence anyway, and nobody will ever want to hear it. The only thing it does, is make everyone worry that you’re strange.

6. Get a good lawyer, and stay in touch with them.  There’s a balance, of course, between ringing them five times a day, and not talking to them for months at an end and not bothering to tell them that you’re back with so-and-so and pregnant.  If you tell them what’s happening, or particularly if you’re feeling like you might be about to make a big decision and you’re not sure if it is the right thing to do, they’ll be able to help you.  If they ask you to come in and see them, turn up. If they advise you to do something, it’s not because they’re mean, or nasty, it’s because they want to have the best possible chance at final hearing in getting you your children back. Give them some help.

Don’t believe any of the conspiracy nonsense that all parent lawyers are pawns of the Local Authority, or lazy or crooked;  some of them are smart, some are hardworking, some are inspirational, some work wonders – but no parent lawyer is ever, ever in the pocket of the Local Authority or doesn’t care about doing their best for you.


About suesspiciousminds

Law geek, local authority care hack, fascinated by words and quirky information; deeply committed to cheesecake and beer.

75 responses

  1. Excellent post. Thanks for writing it

  2. What a great post. A truly great post. Thank you.

  3. Liked it. 🙂

  4. thank you both – I nearly didn’t press the publish, because I was worried people might think I was being patronising, but it was a genuine attempt to help – a lot of the googles who come to my site are clearly parents who are really really fearful and worried, and I didn’t think I’d done much to help them so far.

      • Can’t really argue with that to be honest, and though I was counselling people not to tape-record meetings, it was right for this chap, and saved him what could have been nightmarish. And stuff like this doesn’t do the social work profession any good. No point me hiding behind anything there- the way Mr Dennis was treated here was despicable.

    • I would welcome the opportunity of discussing my position and case with this GUY – I have used the law to attempt to resolve – rightly without stupid actions –always considered and tried to be professional – sought to work with LA who refused me and –perverted the course of Justice – but for a Crown Court Judge would never have known who found under S2 disclosure matters with held from an earlier F&F hearing – yet no family Court Jurisdiction will review or consider the matter adequately or properly. This Guy should try and live in side my head and that of my ABI wife who again today returned to her inverted behaviour. Still can not accept or understand why the children are not at home or able to leave with her to go home to her country of birth??

      I QUOTE “ Nothing I’m suggesting here is beyond you, if you try and you ask for help when you need it. It isn’t a guaranteed recipe of success, that’s up to you, but it certainly improves your chances. “ this certainly helped me did it not

      ADMISSION ONLY 5% CHANCE “and try to change, you’re already in the top 5% of parents in care proceedings by that one simple decision. And if you ask for help, and listen to the advice, you’re moving towards the top 2%. Which means, when the Court is listening to your case, they are thinking “this mum/dad is so much better than the people we normally see”

      CREDIBILITY COUNTS FOR NOTHING – YEARS OF BEING CREDIBLE” Everyone makes mistakes. Honestly, everyone. When you make one, admit it and say that you want to learn from it, to do better in the future. Giving up things you’ve done for years isn’t easy, and you’re entitled to get help with that, and you’re allowed . “ this certainly helped me did it not NO.

      Turn up to all the contacts shame it made no difference, EVEN GOOD AND BETTER ETC AND NO RELATIONSHIPS ISSUES WITH CHILDREN???

      “Get a good lawyer, and stay in touch with them” “ it’s because they want to have the best possible chance at final hearing in getting you your children back. Give them some help”. I FOLLOWED THE ADVICE AND THEY SAID THEY BELIEVED IT WAS LIKELY THE CHILD WOULD BE RETURNED BY FOLLOWING THERE PATH – ie SHOW THAT ITS THAT THE SW ARE ONLY NEGATIVE ETC – NO POSITIVE BALANCE ETC – SOLD OUT.

      THIS WOULD BE AN ADMISSION ON THE BASIS OF THE JUDGEMENT IN MY CASE-Don’t believe any of the conspiracy nonsense that all parent lawyers are pawns of the Local Authority, or lazy or crooked; some of them are smart, some are hardworking, some are inspirational, some work wonders – but no parent lawyer is ever, ever in the pocket of the Local Authority or doesn’t care about doing their best for you.-SHAME WHEN MY BAARISTER AND LEGAL TEAM ALL CRIED THEY WOULD NOT RISK THERE CAREERS ON MY BEHALF.

      Not all those afflicted are dafts or pond life;

      Subject: hmmmm some questionable advice?

      • Hello Stephen,

        I’m sorry you’ve had such an awful experience of the system. I believe that This Guy’s email address is on all of his posts, so feel free to contact him if you wish. I think you’d inevitably want to discuss the detail of your case, which I wouldn’t be able to allow on the site, so I’d ask that you do that via private email.

      • More than happy to discuss my experience in the Family Courts. As Mr J Baker said ” its only findings in a Family Court” it does not prove guilt but can allow a LA to take your Baby Son to adoption, even when evidence confirms that the LA and the LA Solicitor perverted the course of Justice by with holding evidence and wrote both Chronologies and provided Witness statements by two SW’s that excluded relevant events and under Crown Court S2 review by a Judge, that as Police say was relevant and instrumental in being found Not Guilty – yet even though clearly LJ Wall himself said the Litigant and his Mckensie unearthed significant new evidence, the Family Court Judge could use his discreation, even though the Private Barrister of LA admitted not having seen the evidence before him[was he adqautely instructed], the LA has never come clean and thus perpetuates the injustice and no Court in this land can or will not correct a wrong in the Family Court, as clearly the Law does not exist to protect families parents as only once a Finding has been made however wrongly it will not be corrected as not in the interest of the likely time scale for a child. Not justice by mercy and right, only self protecting and self serving a system that at best is rubber stamping a position taken by a LA hell bent on winning a case, even though at first instance the father had sought the help of the service, as an ex Principle Officer of the very same LA, a person who had given 10 yrs of Service and had been used to earlier in 1977 expose fraud in the same LA, including at Mayrol level and fully know the inner workings of the LA and has now latterly received and seen the corrupt actions of its Officers yet again with no checks or balances. if it was not for that Crown Court Judge who found in the Social workers files and on swift records documents and meetings with held, I would not have been any wiser, yet today the LA is still rewarding the persons that created the injustice in the Family court.

        Clearly, adequate LA Solicitors and honest and full disclosure as similar to Crown court process would assist Parents. Yet even though as MR J Baker recent Kent case revealed and confirmed the duty on the LA Solicitor is a wide one and strong one, yet how many give full and adequate disclosure. In my case I needed an IPCC appeal to order disclosure review, even then the LA Solicitor claimed contray to Police that no new disclosure rec’d – claimed lost or not sent – who would you believe the Police or LA – sadly on balance of proability neither. But likely with my 10 years of service at a PO2 grade – the balance of probability is the LA. YET will a Family Court take any LA apart in these sad days – no doubtfully.. As LJ Mumby recently made clear unable in family law to right an injustice in adoption cases even when the evidence exists, yet no estopple in Family Law??

        Sadly as so many Lawyers and Judges in Family law, if a parent is before it, more than likely the die has been cast, ie no smoke without fire and pre judgemental in the most emotionally charged surroundings. As a professional – I said that any one on the front bench in my case could find themselves in a similar position, and fighting for justice even evidence based was held against me, in part as I had been in court many times before including as a witness expert. The Pscy report found me sound and not a risk to my son, but believed that no one in the LA could work with me as it was likely they could not meet my standards, having my level of IQ etc and ability – even though my care for the child was not the issue, A good enough parent – yet the LA sought Adoption and got it. Clearly no child is safe in Britain at the hands of the State who prefers adoption as quickly as possible, ie 6months – my case and my son is since Dec 2007 proceedings , I have one more hurdle to clear in exhausting all so called remeadies before going to ECHTR and likley a personal Criminal action against the LA that will then have perverted the course of Justice – once and if my son is adopted.

        Yet all it needed was a Judge at first principle to have the papers before him – but as my Barrister recorded – dismissed the application in a perfunctionary manner – no wonder she later refused to risk her Career which included representing historically, Parents, Guardians{Cafcass] and LA’s. I recall LJ Wall once saying – did the Family Court Judge not eat at the same table as the Crown Court Judge on 24th October 2009 a fate full day,

        Sadly – the system needs – Shall’s and will do’s – not maybe or wishy washy wishes of a child delivered by those who are protecting each others backs and a very cosy daily machine of 96% of children removed never return home to birth Parents and a rising statistic of horror for families to often, based upon pre judged machines. The SYSTEM.
        Contract Law is more defined.

      • I have to say that I empathise greatly with Stevens experience of the system and how it is stacked against parents once the SS have become involved. I am sure that the owner of this blog sees and reflects things through rose coloured spectacles and from a point of view of being on one side of the fence only. However, when your are on the other side of that fence, you know for certain the realities, the horrors of having your chldren taken away onthe most frivouos of evidence.There are just to many well publicised cases that tell of parents having their kid snatched because of a bruise on a child arm, innocently occuring while at play. Or of the mother who chose cheap nappies that caused a severe rash on the childs behind, seen as caused by scalding in hot water by the mother, the knee jerk reactions of the SS. Only later to find that it was not the mother at all, but caused by the solvents in the cheap nappy lining. Im sorry your advice sounds all too twee for me and is aimed at doing all one can in placating the highly suspicious minds of the accusers who usually just want to make double sure thay are right in taking the child whatever. Well we dont want another baby P occurence do we,,,,, syndrome? The idea that all those thousands of parents out there that are protesting out of delusion or out of conspiracy paranoia is completely absurd to me, thay can’t all be lying! Or is it that they have had an injustice done to them and are trying to deal with a heartbroken? Try telling Lucy Allan, (a well publicised case, so in the public domain) that she was dealt with fairly by the Social services, she will laugh at you im sure. As so many others who have faced the ss injustice of child snatching. The only way to get your child back, is not to brown tongue these monsters, (which is what you are really suggesting in effect) but to fight to open the secret courts and run them with jurors. The level of guilty until proven innocent is what rules with the SS and we all know it. Change the law, instead of promulgating a system that is highly unfair and just plainly wrong for all to see. Booker for PM, now there is man that knows whats going on, or does he make all those stories up just to sell newspapers? I think not! Sir Geldof is a liar too is he? I know NOT! Why arent you putting your blog to better use, by not trying to put “new wine in old wineskins”? Throw out the old wineskins and lets bring in the new wine, change the law now! All written with respect.

      • I am fully aware of five different cases Booker has reported on having read the full case papers and spoken to the parent(s). In each case it is partial simply because he either relies on what the parents says or has only been given part of the case. The fact is most cases are not simple enough to fairly report in two paragraphs never mind six. Personally, I would prefer serious journalism than snapshot inccauracies. there are serious problems being overlooked. I agree with the point above one third guilty, one third need some help but not care proceedings and one third should never get to Court in the first place.

      • I am tired of reading accusations of how Booker only listens to one side and how he makes errors.Booker reports actual facts that can be interpreted as the reader baby taken at birth for “risk of emotional abuse” or pregnant women flees uk to give birth in France.If he gets any facts wrong noone has ever pointed them out except for one disastrous attempt by judge Bellamy This judge actually found two minor mistakes on my forced-adoption website two days before Christopher published on Sunday without those mistakes !!We both start from the premise that even if everything the “SS” says in a case is true,does this justify taking a baby away from the mother and nearly always the answer is NO .

  5. Good sound advice and none of it will be taken.

    My own experience on both sides of the fence – private practice and now also as a Local Authority hack – is that parents only very rarely do what their solicitors advise them which is to do what the guardian and social worker want. That is not advice that they want to hear.

    I have just had served in one of my cases a rant (sorry, a statement) from a father who has sacked his solicitor and is now taking advice from one of those looney tunes websites. it won’t change the outcome – father’s criminal history and fact that he can’t even manage to obtain housing for himself let alone self and child is just the beginning of his problems – but it will make the whole process that much more exasperating for everybody else and the court. it will also delay final outcome for the child that he claims to care so much about as court has to scrabble around to find more hearing time to accommodate the inevitable meanderings of a litigant in person.

    • Excellent post. One thing I think is worth bearing in mind, there are lots of corrupt Lawyers about, and they’ve all moved to where the money can be made, and that isn’t family courts!

    • Walklikeacat. I have never read such a terribe judgemental condescending statement as that you have written here. You seem to sit in total judgement of the father you mention, “rant” “looney tunes”, “he CLaims to care so much about”, who the hell do you think you are! I don’t know if i have more pity for the father here or for your comment that is without any mercy. You would have been great at Belsen, then you could have shot as many fathers who also were slightly perturbed at losing their kids to a corrupt system that gassed them. How do you sleep? I can guess that you sleep fine.

  6. This is excellent advice.

    Sadly, I don’t think the chap ranting all over the comments threads at the Not So Big Society is going to take your advice.

  7. What you have eloquently demonstrated in this piece is that certain people wield absolute power over parents who are subject to care proceedings. You also imply that these powerful people are all honest, ethical in the actions and can never lie or do wrong with respect to the child or family. That they are something above normal humanity and human behaviours.

    You have also well demonstrated that ‘kissing back sides’ of the powerful ones is an absolute must for families subject to care proceedings; thereby giving support to the idea that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Humility or admitting to mistakes is just not on their daily radar.

    What a sorry state of affairs for the citizens of this country and their children. Protection? I doubt it judging by the outcomes for children taken into care. One day some adult children may start class actions, (assuming any lawyer will dare take this on), when they learn and understand fully the facts about the circumstances of being separated from their birth family, especially when the alternative turned out worse or no better.

    • certain people wield absolute power over parents who are subject to care proceedings.

      Judges, or JPs, or Childrens’ Panels have not absolute but tightly defined power over the people who appear before them. It doesn’t matter whether you are pleading guily, by letter, to an SP30; facing a mondatory life sentence if convicted; or having your children taken in to care.

      You also imply that these powerful people are all honest, ethical in the actions and can never lie or do wrong with respect to the child or family.

      I don’t think this is an accurate reading of the post. Have a look again at the sixth and seventh paragraphs and then number para 3. And the last paragraph. You appear to be confused. The only absolute claim is that “no parent lawyer is ever in the pocket of the LA”. Personally, I don’t have the knowledge of the system and would be reluctant to claim such an absolute- but the alternate claim that “every parent lawyer is …” is both more damaging and arrant nonsense.

      You have also well demonstrated that ‘kissing back sides’ of the powerful ones is an absolute must for families subject to care proceedings;

      Numbered para 1 isn’t about “kissing backsides”. When I pop across the road to by my lunch, will I be treated better if I am polite and say “Good morning” and have a wee chat with the counter staff or if I rant and rave about them and demand public apologies for the half-dozen times (over 12+ years and two different owners) that they’ve sold me spoiled food?

      • I apologise for the appalling spelling in that post. I hope it still makes sense 😦

      • Regarding parents’ lawyers :- High Street child care solicitors represent a particular pair of parents once in a lifetime. But, also represent various children on behalf of Cafcass guardians several times per year. Would it be a good idea for them to “defeat” a (regular customer) Cafcass guardian on behalf of a particular pair of parents? Not really. LAs, possibly unsurprisingly, have their own in-house solicitors. They can afford it, using taxpayers’ money. Child care barristers represent a particular pair of parents once in a lifetime. But, also regularly represent LAs or various children, on behalf of Cafcass guardians. Would it be a good idea for them to defeat either of the regular customers, a LA or a Cafcass guardian, on behalf of a once in a lifetime customer, a pair of parents? Not really. The solution? LAs and Cafcass should both have their own in-house solicitors AND barristers. Will it happen? Probably not. Why not? It would make the playing field too level. The parents’ solicitor and barrister would actually have a financial incentive to win on behalf of the parents. That would tend to defeat the (unstated) objective of the state workers virtually always winning.

  8. This is excellent advice and if you dont.mind I shall be pointing my child law students to it in October

  9. suesspiciousminds and or any other child care lawyers contributing to this blog :- What goes in Annexe B of the court file in child care cases? It’s submitted to the court by the Local Authority and is seen by the judge and the child’s solicitor and guardian. BUT, isn’t shown to the parents. Whether or not it is shown to the parents’ solicitor, who doesn’t show it to the parents, I don’t know. And if you want to know how I know Annexe B exists, a little bird told me. Presumably there is also an Annexe A, Iif so, what does that contain? And, is it shown to the parents?

    • Hi That Guy,

      There are two types of report called Annexe A and Annexe B reports (though they are now more usually called Placement Order reports). What they are, are reports setting out the reason why the Local Authority recommend to the Court that the Court should make a Placement Order (annexe B) or Adoption Order (annexe A).

      Now, you should see, through your solicitor these reports. They are documents that are seen by the parties. The one, and only thing you would not see, would be the passages of the report (if an Annexe A report) that speak about the details of the adopters who are applying to adopt the child, in case there are identifying details which would expose the placement.

      There should be nothing that you do not get to see in care proceedings, other than that. (There are really, really exceptional situations where something might be kept confidential, but that would be very very rare and the Court would need a lot of convincing that you should not be shown it. In 18 years, I’ve done that once, that’s how rare it is)

      If your solicitor shows you the Placement Order report, then that is exactly what the Court has seen as Annexe B (there would be a two page application which gives the details of the child’s current foster care address submitted to the Court with that, that you wouldn’t see, but there’s nothing other than the address on that which is of any significance)

      I hope that helps – there are a lot of hard things in care proceedings for parents, but worrying that the judge is seeing secret things that you don’t get to see doesn’t have to be one of them.

      • I’m not involved in any current care proceedings. In the past I assisted a mother, as her McKenzie friend, to file an appeal against a placement order. The mother had obtained a copy of the Trial Bundle of documents from her former solicitor. But, Annexe B, listed in the Index, was missing from the Bundle. I wrote to the LA solicitor ,who had dealt with the case, asking for a copy. She replied saying :- “The Annex B document is only provided to the Judge and to the Children’s Guardian. I cannot therefore provide it to you without the leave of the court”. I had asked her to send a copy to the mother. I would say it is probably common for LAs to withhold information from parents. And, if a parent’s GP expresses an opinion about a parent, which the GP says he or she doesn’t want the parent to know has been provided, I would be surprised if that opinion didn’t find its way into the court, one way or another.

  10. Hi That Guy

    There is no reason why your client shouldn’t see the Annexe B report, and the Court are responsible for serving it on them. [which may be why you got that unhelpful response from the LA, which rightly made you suspicious. If you had asked me, I would have let you have the document, though as a matter of strict law, it is the Court who should give it to you]

    You’re probably not going to believe me, and we’ll have to accept that we have different opinions which both of us are entitled to hold, but the occasions when the Court see something which is evidence (meaning an allegation or something to support that allegation) that a parent does not see is monumentally rare. Probably one case in 10,000, I’d say.

    As I said, I have had only one case in 18 years where there was an argument that a parent should not see a piece of information (other than foster carers address or details of the adopters) and the Court certainly didn’t rubber stamp that decision, they wrestled long and hard over it, as is right. Our justice system is built on a person knowing the case against them and having the chance to respond to it, and that’s massively important. [my case involved a very sensitive piece of health information about the foster carer, which the parents would I am sure have wanted to know, but did not go to any of the issues as to whether the child should go home to the parents.]

    And sorry your comment took a while to get approved – no conspiracy, I was just enjoying the sunshine at the weekend.

    • If one applies to a LA for information under the Data Protection Act, the LA will not provide it if doing so will make it fairly obvious who had provided the information. And, the person who provided the info to the LA has not consented to being identified. The same applies to courts. So, in my opinion, LAs and courts both have information, eg allegations, sometimes false allegations, on the basis of which they take various actions, eg in the case of a court, issuing a warrant to enter private premises. The person(s) on the receiving end of the action(s) being unable to discover the details of the (sometimes false) information (allegations).

  11. PS…I think the same will apply when LAs apply to a court for an emergency protection order, eg ex-parte the parents, ie the parents not present in court, on the basis of some alarming, possibly false, allegation. Will the parents be able to find out who provided the (false) info? No. Will they be able to find out what the (false) info was, if that would enable them to deduce who had provided the (false) info? No. Secret evidence? Yes.

    • I don’t think I have ever tried to prove an allegation using an anonymous referral; you just wouldn’t cross the evidential threshold necessary. Anonymous referrals are made, and sometimes the reference goes into the papers, but you’d need to prove the case without relying on them, because of the obvious point that someone who won’t give their name and give evidence can’t be relied upon as an accurate reporter of events.

      And all of the worries you raise about ex parte EPOs were rightly shared by Mr Justice Munby and Mr Justice MacFarlane, which is why the law on EPOs is now substantially different, with the Re X cases. Prior to that, I agree that it was a real worry as to whether justice was properly being seen to be done.

      If the LA and or the Court are not following those cases, and having a complete record of everything that has been said and seen being provided to the parents, they would be in breach of the law on EPOS.

      As to your other suggestions about parents barristers deliberately losing cases in order to please people like me, I’m afraid you’re never going to convince me that this happens, and I’m never going to convince you that it doesn’t. So we’ll agree to disagree.

      What I would say is that, it is a shame that the system and your exposure to it has led you to come away with that view, and if nothing else, the system is not operating properly if that sort of opinion can be formed by intelligent people who encounter it.

      I don’t think you’ll ever get a system where people don’t occasionally feel hard done by, or robbed, or let down; but they ought not to feel genuinely suspicious that something corrupt was happening, and the impression of this is something that we should strive to stamp out.

  12. Once someone says or write, that it is not a conspiracy, this means that, it is indeed a conspiracy. I have been in this game long enough to work that one out. (This statement is made in reference to another comment I made on the same subject matter).

    (My following comment is a repost. I do believe my comment maybe also of some benefit reposted here.)

    I do understand that many children taken into care is for good reason and some are not.
    Also it must be pointed out that many litigants have won their children back. There are some excellent solicitors out there.

    Sadly, many parents do not find one, until the lazy solicitor has made their case so complex, no one wants to touch it. Then the parents are left with no choice, but to go it a lone.
    How many of you have had your children taken or have had to go through care proceedings in a family court?

    Some useful info:

    [sorry, TowardChange I have deleted that particular paragraph, as it could potentially identify your family as being the subject of court proceedings, but I wanted to allow as much of this post as possible as you make very valuable points and do so well, so I have kept your links for anyone who wants to read more from you]

    UK secret family courts and the NOT so expert witnesses

    Welcome To My World: These people need to give me back my child: I have recorded a telephone conversation, which took place on 13 August 2012 between Northamptonshire Police Force and I. My advice …

    They were able to punish us by taking my child via the family court system. This is the only tool they had.
    There are many who have suffered the same fate.

    Closing have you not been reading and watching the videos about forced adoptions and child migrants?
    Now being exposed the world over?
    Or is someone going to write that this is also a conspiracy theory?

    I have really enjoyed your post and look forward to reading more of this type in the near future.! Your post is a very interesting piece, thank you for sharing.

    ps. There a 1000s of parents who audio record particular events. I am aware of some who eventually won their family case. I agree it may not be played in Court, but there is one prime benefit, called evidence. Proving that those who are paid to protect and serve are sometimes doing the opposite. Audio recording permits those to rewrite their fictions within the contents of their statements. The Police, social services and others record for good reason and so should we.

    There are good professionals within the family court system. I have not met one yet, in reference to my own family matter.

    • As I understand it, if a judge orders it a tape recording can be played in court- so the ball is in the court of the judge. In one CoP case where allegations were raised about a son and mentally incapacitated father the sons tape recording of the interview with his father highlighted that the views taken by ‘those in power’ were wrong- and the judge made the appropriate order in his favour.

      It is not, I understand, illegal to tape record if you are involved in the conversation.

    • Thank you for consideration. I wished Northampton County Court and team had shown my child the same respect, when they were busy chanting my child’s name and pet name in the court room and disclosing my identity within mainstream media.

      The care proceedings are closed. As with any gagging order relating to that case. The matter is dealt with by the Supreme Court and if the Council, wish to complain about me breaking the gagging order. they must do so in a higher court; which is the ECHR. I got there first.
      This approach is better than smashing into my home every 10 minutes and placing threats on my person. All, because they know they have done wrong by my child and I.

      My child and I agreed to waiver anonymity so we can help others in a similar situation.

  13. In the case I referred to above, in which I assisted a mother to file an appeal, an anonymous allegation, allegedly made by more than one person, saying they had heard the mother threaten to do something which if done would significantly harm the child, was used to cross the threshold for issuing a care order. I became involved after the care order and a placement order had been issued. On close examination of the above hearsay evidence, by me, it became apparent to me there was a big problem with it. It was clear to me that the mother’s lawyers hadn’t taken the trouble to carefully examine and robustly challenge the hearsay evidence. One could say her lawyers threw the towel in at an early stage. The child is now adopted. If I was ever on the receiving end of any public law proceedings I definitely wouldn’t allow myself to be represented by any solicitor or barrister. For the conflicts of interest reasons I have referred to above. But then, unlike probably 99.9% of people on the receiving end of state v citizen proceedings, I would have, or be able to discover, ways of defending myself quite well as a litigant in person.

  14. The conflicts of interests problem is :- Would Cafcass “employ” a solicitor to represent a child, on behalf of one of their guardians, if that solicitor had previously “defeated” the wishes of a Cafcass guardian, more than about once, in an earlier child care case? I wouldn’t have thought so. Ditto for barristers representing children on behalf of Cafcass. Ditto for barristers representing LAs in court. How many times can a barrister defeat a LA’s wishes before the LA decides not to “employ” that barrister in the future? About once?

  15. Some additional That Guy comments are appended to the following Marilyn Stowe item :-

  16. There is much wrong with the child protection system with few who make a living from it actually giving a realistic or truthful picture- of course they would not their livelihoods are at stake.

    I was therefore surprised to find a blog by the very very rare species of social worker who is more honest about the system itself:

    I previously took the view social workers were not too bright but relatively benign on the whole and ineffective. Today the scenario has changed vastly with the powers they have been given. Now social workers frequently embellish to the point of fabrication and lies at worst and are inaccurate in their information / records at best. But they are the ones whose judgement holds sway.

    The work in trying to prove a social worker / other professional has misinterpreted a situation badly or lied is very very difficult. I am not surprised you denigrate those who tape record everything, because your perspective is biased. Some lawyers know that this is needed for ones own safety as well as to expose. People no longer trust- and they are right not to do so.

    Those who loose their children from exaggerated ‘evidence’ which lawyers and judges do not bother to test robustly are damned. I think I read an article, (not by Mr Booker), in the Telegraph once of a judge going on holiday just before a family case, it being suggested that he could not be adequately prepared before the hearing / trial with having read / requested all the relevant papers, with the obvious likely effect on the case.

    So if parents feel like ‘shouting and screaming ‘ at the social worker who threatens them with his / her power in taking their child they are expressing a feeling of the potential loss of a child. That is what can happen when parents think they are loosing a loved child. Others will be so dumbstruck they will be silent. Whatever their reaction you can bet they will be judged negatively once a social worker has decided the action to be taken.

  17. Reblogged this on Parents Rights Blog and commented:
    In the case I referred to above, in which I assisted a mother to file an appeal, an anonymous allegation, allegedly made by more than one person, saying they had heard the mother threaten to do something which if done would significantly harm the child, was used to cross the threshold for issuing a care order. I became involved after the care order and a placement order had been issued. On close examination of the above hearsay evidence, by me, it became apparent to me there was a big problem with it. It was clear to me that the mother’s lawyers hadn’t taken the trouble to carefully examine and robustly challenge the hearsay evidence. One could say her lawyers threw the towel in at an early stage. The child is now adopted. If I was ever on the receiving end of any public law proceedings I definitely wouldn’t allow myself to be represented by any solicitor or barrister. For the conflicts of interest reasons I have referred to above. But then, unlike probably 99.9% of people on the receiving end of state v citizen proceedings, I would have, or be able to discover, ways of defending myself quite well as a litigant in person.

    • Thank you for reblogging one of my many comments towardchange. Due to it being unlikely that the vast majority of people on the receiving end of state v citizen “public law” proceedings will have the time and or ability to get fully clued-up as a litigant in person, I think our MPs should ban all High Street solicitors from representing any state-run organisation in court, eg Cafcass guardians who instruct solicitors re children the state is attempting to get into care. All state organisations should have and use their own in-house solicitors and barristers. Any barrister who represents a member of the public in any state v citizen proceedings should be banned from representing any state organisation on any other occasion, which wouldn’t be necessary if what I suggest is done, because that organisation would have its own in-house barristers. LAs already have their own in-house solicitors. Let them have their own in-house barristers. Ditto for Cafcass. Ditto for NHS (mental health) Trusts, etc.

      • Thank you for your very insightful views.

        “Any barrister who represents a member of the public in any state v citizen proceedings should be banned from representing any state organisation on any other occasion.”

        There will be a problem. Barristers will not represent the public?

  18. The use of vague and untested notions such as in the ‘best interests of’ .. are allowing ‘professionals and judges to make poorly evidenced orders for care or adoption. A bruise does not necessarily signify abuse on a child or adult, but is someone wants to cover their back they will set a one way train in motion to suggest this when there is no history of harm.

    I was amused to find a professional working in a social services setting telling another about how easily and frequently their son gets bruised, whilst the other colleague stated their son did not. The look of ‘unease’ in the face of the professional who ‘disclosed’ was evident. I wondered if this person had avoided taking the child to a professional knowing what would likely happen.

    That any ‘professional’ can say anything whether it is truth or fact that works against the parents by implying their role in an abuse, without the parent’s ability as non professionals to challenge, even on a common sense basis. This remains a reality for many totally innocent parents. It is estimated that 10% of the parents subject to care proceedings / social services intervention are innocent, possibly a little more are just those lacking perfect lives / parenting skills that fit social worker’s standards for a child. Then there are the hard cases where many social workers fear to go. Soft targets are easy.

    • All of the child protection order sections of the Children Act 1989, s43, s44, s38, s32, contain a phrase like “the applicant has reasonable cause to suspect that the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm”. Does a child having a bruise meet the statutory requirement of “likely to suffer significant harm”? Not really. How do the professionals get away with using a bruise as an excuse for their intervention in the private life of a family? Because the parents’ lawyers aren’t effective? Probably. Why? Because the state workers provide most of the lawyers’ relevant income? About half for High Street child care solicitors. About two thirds for child care barristers.

  19. ie High Street child care solicitors typically represent various different parents half of the time and the state, various children via Cafcass guardians, the rest of the time. Ditto for barristers, but they also represent Local Authorities. So, they represent the state, Cafcass and LAs, two thirds of the time, and various different parents one third of the time. How “valuable” a customer is a particular pair of parents? Divide a half or two thirds of the lawyers’ income by however many different pairs of parents they represent. How valuable a customer is the state? Half or two thirds of the lawyers’ income. There’s only one state, which has various organisations. Financial conflict of interests? Yes.

    • I agree, he who pays the piper plays the tune…. so it is with lawyers and child protection work, save for the few who will seriously represent parents without worrying about their state client’s ‘business’.

      But It is also the case that safeguarding / child protection is not only not a ‘high profile’ career making subject, to encourage lawyers to take it on in order to gain reputation in it , but the fear of ‘freeing’ parents who might be ‘abusing’ makes it a very biased area of work- especially as the threshold for removal is so low.

      The really independent lawyers would start with challenging biased ‘best interests’. They would, ensure the child’s own view/ voice is taken fully on board when possible. They would seek to work to raise the threshold to prevent children being removed on no substantive evidence of serious harm.

      Where it is clear people are unfit i.e. known drug / alcohol abusers, to parent that is another issue which needs to be dealt with through removing the right to have further children, contentious yes, but no more so than removing children from innocent parents. Things are muddled because they are not publicly discussed not are the family courts open to serious scrutiny or serious fact finding.

      The more progressive lawyers could argue as in other countries that parents should have the right to make public their case. This no more has long term effects on a child than divorcing parents or later finding they were removed for spurious reasons – if they manage to make contact with birth parent(s) of course.

      I would not advise anyone to have children in the UK unless they are part of the powerful elite- the odds are stacked against them in the current system.

  20. I haven’t joined in this conversation to date, not because it hasn’t been interesting, but because I think my trying to make the counter argument would probably be unhelpful. I don’t agree with all that you have both said, but I do strongly think that your views as people who have had a deeply unhappy experience with a system that needs some reform are valid, and both of you have put your points acoss eloquently. If neither of you have read John Hemming’s suggestions for reform, I would recommend them to you. (personally, I didn’t think that they went far enough)

    Thanks to all three of you for taking the time to contribute and I am genuinely sorry that the system has let you both down. I can’t possibly comment on the merits or otherwise of the cases you’ve been involved in, but it can’t be right for the system to have left you all feeling that it is corrupt. (I would argue that it isn’t, but the very fact that it is capable of leaving reasonable and bright people with that impression shows a huge failing)

  21. Does Sue reckon it would be a good idea for Cafcass and LAs to have their own in-house solicitors and barristers? And, for the solicitors and barristers available to parents to be banned from representing either children via Cafcass guardians or LAs?

  22. I don’t, as it goes, but I can see the point you are driving at. I like, as a Local Authority lawyer, to have the ability to choose the right barrister for the right case, rather than have a very small pool. And I really strongly believe that people who represent Guardians ought to do some parent work, to stay in touch with how it is to represent parents, rather than have an ivory tower approach. But I can see that your perspective is that there’s a financial conflict of interest. I don’t think there is, any more than in criminal proceedings some people do a lot of prosecuting and not much defending, or vice versa, but some people are good at both. I select barristers on whether they are good or not, and I certainly would never stop using one because they were on the opposite side of me on another case and gave me a tough time. [I do think that it isn’t great for private practice firms to represent LA’s at all, because that does give rise to an impression that they don’t want to ruffle the LA’s feathers. I know it happens in some parts of the country, but I don’t generally like it]

  23. Not very convincing Sue.

  24. towardchange :- Re your comment above :- “Thank you (That Guy) for your very insightful views….“Any barrister who represents a member of the public in any state v citizen proceedings should be banned from representing any state organisation on any other occasion.”…There will be a problem. Barristers will not represent the public?”…That Guy says :- Thank you for liking my views. Barristers can represent members of the public directly. But they have to have done a “Public Access” training course first. However, what I am suggesting is that our MPs make it illegal for any child care law solicitors or barristers to “bat for both sides”, ie represent a particular pair of parents one day and (a lot more often) a state organisation (eg a child via a Cafcass guardian or a Local Authorities) another day. This could be achieved by the MPs stipulating that Cafcass and LAs have to employ their own in-house solicitors and barristers to prepare and present their legal arguments. Then, the solicitors and barristers representing parents wouldn’t have any incentive to “try harder” when representing children on behalf of Cafcass guardians, or when representing LAs. Because, they wouldn’t be doing that. Those state organisations’ in-house lawyers would be doing that.

  25. Over on Marilyn Stowe’s blog, That Gut asks why an interim supervision order wasn’t issued re the Nevins’ child?! :-

  26. One can’t help wondering how hard the Nevins’ lawyers were trying.

  27. I agree with some of the advice given but not all. For example, secretly recording conversations is the only way to prove who is telling the truth. Social workers and contact centre workers and others can mis-report whether deliberately or otherwise. lawyers keep advising recordngs cannot be used as evidence but they can and totally legally as long as the recording is accurately transcribed and then the transcript is submitted as evidence.

    85% of parents in public law are on income support. Solicitors take on too many cases and dont advise properly on remedies and actions to take for the purposes of challenging ICOs, threshold criteria and welfare hearings.

    Parents are affected by the stress of the proceedings and may take wrong advice from the internet or others and arent in a position of thinking straight.

    Once court proceedings are taken the ethos of the LA is to win their case at all costs. I have too much evidence of incompetence and corruption in the system. Bookers soundbites are menaingless as I am aware of the full documents on five cases he has reported on and could destroy the accuracy of the reporting. Most cases have many features and are not straight forward as reported however, that doesnt make good news spread.

    The the Judges rarely read the papers and rely on soundbites from the advocates which are often one sided and the LA pursues a fishing trip on the parent. Emotional abuse is ill defined and nonsensical. Physical and sexual abuse easier to prove but often improper practice e.g. on questioning children prior to ABE, lack of direct evidence and basic abuse of procedure such as led to the Cleveland enquiry are commonplace.

    I agree that the freeman angle is not only bad advice but will result in the very outcome the parent is seeking to avoid. However, we do need a transparent and objective system and we do not have that at present. behind closed doors all sorts of abuses occur and that needs to stop if we are serious about child welfare.

    There are also concerns about righting wrongs which the appeal court is unlikely to do since most Family law is simply discretionary and the County Court system is too cosy and self protecting of its social workers, CAFCASS officers and legal teams. Some advice on the link below;

    • Dear Shaun,

      You make some good points, and make them well. I tend to agree that it is emotional harm cases that are the most slippery and I think it is essential if the Court is determining that emotional harm is present to be able to outline what that is, in real concrete terms and not hide behind abstract concepts.

      So far as tape-recording goes, I’ve never told a parent in any of my cases that they can’t do it, in fact my advice to social workers is generally to not challenge a parent who wants to do it. If you’re doing your social work well and properly, you have nothing to fear by someone keeping a record of it. Where it does potentially become problematic is where it is done ostentatiously (i.e brandishing the tape recorder at contact and saying in front of the children “I’m taping everything, to prove they’re liars”)

      I hope that the ethos of Local Authorities is not to win at all costs. It’s certainly not the view I take of cases. In fact, my concept of ‘winning’ in care proceedings, is to help the family to make the changes that will let them look after their children and get rid of the concerns that had led to the proceedings starting. It makes me sad that we get to that point in less cases than I would like. But there’s no sense in me painting a rosy picture – I’ve met people who do have that ‘crusader’ approach that they are there to ‘rescue’ children, and also those who have the combative approach that you’re talking about. As a Local Authority lawyer, I want children to be brought up with their families, but at the same time, I don’t want them to be abused; so my role is to test whether the parents can make changes within the time the children can wait for those changes.

      I hope that parents who might otherwise be drawn to the Freemen of the Land /forced adoption resources would check out your site – I think you’re more cynical about things than I am, but certainly would be giving them far better advice than the other sources that are available online.

      • whoops local authority lawyer? wish you worked for Portsmouth might get better sense out of the Director of childrens services ethos of covering up or gettinng injunctions on media reporting. I see that parents are going to be inflamed simply with the stress and angst of the proceedings and lack of support to deal with issues when they cannot read their own cases papers objectively….however the interest of Zurich also rule the roost never mind some social workers who lose the plot or should not even be employed.

        The attitude of Local Authorities with a six month time limit and Government name and shame league tables on adoption is a real fear, never mind the mindset of the legal process.

        I expect you will also say that your legal department never are involved in dictating statements on behalf of social workers….I am aware of some that do……

        The same old process of providing biased reports exists as much in public law now as it did in the 1980s,1990s and early 2000s when private law was heavily and improperly bised against fathers. Now the whole system is just a lottery except that in public law Local Authorities have become too powerful in the eyes of the local county court. what happened to the old days when a judge would call the director of social services to Court to account for the actions of his employee(s)?

        I would welcome if it is true you wish the best for the family to be rehabiliated – just too few cases happen that way and some cases should never reach the court in the first place.

      • Polishing statement yes, writing them no. {I don’t claim that this is some lofty idealism, the number one reason is that we just wouldn’t have time to do that}

        And we are as one on the likely impact of the six month time limit, and naming and shaming league tables on adoption – I don’t think that’s a good thing for a system that already has fierce critics (some with good cause) to be launching into, and I think the word “Justice” in the Family Justice Review has been rather overlooked.

  28. Pingback: What Should You Do If Social Services Steal Your Children? A Lesson in How Culture Can Cloud Common Sense « Researching Reform

  29. The mistake i made, what went against me was i reported suspected abuse and sought medical attention for the abuse.. My daughter disclosed to police school and nursery and LA but social services decided not to use any evidence to support my daughter was in danger and placed the child with a parent that tried to kill her saying she is no risk.

    Child protection. Yeah right!!!

  30. Dear Sue

    Please advise…What What What do you do when a LA authority has got it hopelessly wrong? The complaint system is more distressing than the original enquiry and is wholly blame focused and defensive – the legal system is incredibly expensive and again the assumption is always the parent must have done something.

    Imagine you are an ordinary professional who goes to the doctor with symptoms of depression, then is referred to social services who conduct a s47 enquiry. Everyone involved including the social workers say this child is happy thriving and not at risk and the case is closed. The LA will not make any finding at all or notify anyone of the outcome. After a subject access request shows the file records the child suffered harm – it becomes apparent the mother cannot gain an enhanced CRB – (the mother who was a councillor and Non Exec director of NHS has already lost her paid roles in this capacity because of the enquiry – now cannot work in any of her other roles) – almost two years on after going through complaint system and embarking on legal battle the mother still cannot work…..the LA authority will not budge …they had a referral that was ‘alarming’ and therefore what ever the evidence to contrary it is ‘in the child’s best interest’ to state the child suffered harm.

    What do you do to bring this night mare to an end….it has cost a fortune and there is no way of putting this behind us.

    • Dear Lucy,

      I feel for you in this. The best redress I can suggest for you (since if the LA have not issued any care proceedings, there is no court case in which you can clear your name, and none that you could initiate yourself) is to write to the Local Authority, setting out what happened and insisting (as you are entitled to do under the Data Protection Act) that this letter is placed at the very front of the file, so that any professional reading the file at any point begins with seeing your own account before they read anything else. It’s a small thing, but it may be a crumb of comfort to you.

  31. one day soon ill publish Mr justice Sumner’srefusal of permission to appeal Judgement in 2002 – then people can understand that justice is simply what comes out of the judges mouth at the time………….and it will be soon published give me two weeks…he admitted the poor care of the mother and ignored it!!!!!!! Civil servants and judges dont change even if we vote in a different Government…

  32. A grandmother was asked by the SW to take her grandson to live with her, then for 5 months the child was a happy OH so happy child, only problem was, he was continually interviewed all alone by an army of different therapists every other day and night, he must have been interviewed alone by 50 odd different people, and because the grandmother spoke out in a nice way to protect the child and the fear he was being put into, by speaking out to protect the child, the child was dragged away screaming from the school, to be driven to the unknown with the SW reporting, the grandmother was an emotional abuse. And from this grandmothers sadness I decided that as a campaigner with my researching into the WHYS, well yes money comes in from all directions. It does not matter how nice and polite people are to the SS and their army, those kids stolen on lies are creating millions of jobs in a corrupt system, with children earning the system Billions of pounds. Shaun is very correct in what he also states. I have now registered a charity THE SILENT WITNESSES, the social services are taking away more children with the wording of emotional abuse, when it is a fact, it is the system that is the emotional abuse of many thousands of children. When a child dies, time is the healer and parents learn to live a little with the pain, but to have to say goodbye to a child who is not dead, but dead in a system of abuse, never to be seen again, is a crime, and for this the family courts need to be open to all so that children and families will have justice, and children will no longer be the silent witnesses.


    1:- Statements from the local authority are shown to the judge but rarely to parents.Family and friends of parents are routinely excluded from the court but groups of social workers are allowed to stay in the court to listen to their colleague’s testimony whether they are witnesses or not.

    2:- Parents representing themselves are denied the opportunity to cross examine witnesses appearing against them.Judgements,reports from experts,and position statements are either witheld or given to parents at the last minute (too late to read and analyse them properly).

    3:- Parents are routinely refused permission to call for a second opinion when “experts” and Doctors have testified against them.If parents record contacts with their children, or interviews with experts or social workers judges routinely refuse permission for these recordings to be heard yet they always allow recordings and video evidence to be heard if produced by police or social workers.

    4:-Parents whose children have been taken are routinely and wrongly told that they may not talk to ANYONE about their case.

    5:-Parents are threatened with jail if they protest publlcly when their children are taken.They are also jailed for “breach of the peace” or “harassment” if they dare to trace and then contact their own children after adoption.Parents are therefore” twice gagged” contrary to the Human Rights Act ,Article 10 entitling all persons “freedom of expression”,ie freedom of speech.

    6:-Local authority barristers in court often read out statements from absent persons as though they are themselves witnesses but they cannot be questioned.

    7:- Most solicitors refuse to let their clients speak and then agree to all care orders demanded by social services.They tell the hapless parents “it is better not to oppose the interim care order ,but to wait for the final hearing”,ignoring the position set out below (in red) where L.J.Thorpe makes it very clear that the parents are so prejudiced by the proceedings thereafter that it is “very difficult to get a child back” after a removal hearing.

    8:-Judges routinely castigate parents who wish to speak or who represent themselves even though they have the right to do so;Their evidence and their arguments are usually ignored in the judgements.

    9;-Parents representing themselves are often given an hour or two’s notice to appear in court but solicitors are given weeks !

    10:-Parents are punished for “risk” ie not what they have done but for what they might do in the future! “Risk of emotional abuse” is favourite because there is no legal definition of this and it is usually impossible for parents to defend themselves against “predictions” by so called “experts” who are often unqualified (20% according to the latest report!)

    11:-Judges give social workers the power to withold parent’s contact with their children” in care” as a punishment for saying they love them and miss them or that they are fighting to get them back .Foreign children are forbidden to speak their own language with their parents or relatives,mobile phones are confiscated,and children in care are denied the basicrights accorded to murderers and rapists in prison!They use this power to gag parents and force them into complete submission !

    12:-Parents are in effect condemned for offences against their children on “probabilities” 51% instead of beyond reasonable doubt.They can be acquitted in the high court and,the appeal court,and even when all charges have been dropped by the police social services can overule all those bodies and condemn parents on 51% probability (nearly half the time they could be wrong!) and take their children into care with a view to forced adoption.

    13:-Parents who were themselves in care or who were abused in childhood are often judged unfit to be parents as a result.Their past misdemeanours such as shoplifting,or destruction of property (often 10 years ago or more)
    are inevitably used against them during proceedings in court to prove them unfit parents.This would be illegal in a criminal court.

    14:-Parents often forfeit their children for “failing to engage with professionals”The very persons who tell them and their neighbours that the children will never be returned !

    15:-Parents faced with forced adoption lose their children for life, without being allowed a hearing by jury.

    16:-Under the UN Convention on children’s rights,and a recent Supreme Court case (W a child), children have a RIGHT to be heard in court but are usually denied that right.

    17:-Solicitors routinely tell client parents to agree to interim care orders or they risk never seeing their children again.A lie !

    18:-Social workers are legally obliged to place children with relatives if possible but either ignore this or find pretexts to fail them on assessments

    19:-Human rights to free speech and freedom of movement are breached by gagging orders, confiscating passports,and even “prohibited steps” that limit parent’s movements and can force them to remain in the same flat or house indefinitely !

    20:-The Children Act specifically instructs social workers to reunite families wherever possible and to place children removed from their parents with relatives.In practice couples are urged to separate,to quit their jobs and go on benefits so as to keep awkward contact times with their children and to be free to meet social workers etc for meetings whenever summoned to do so.Relatives such a grandparents,aunts,and uncles are set aside to be “assessed” and ore often than not fail on the grounds that they are too friendly with the parents or maybe had a difficult past 10 years ago or more,or simply that they are too old in their forties or fifties even though this does not apply to fosterers .Theory and practice are a long way apart in our family courts;

    • As Ian will no doubt already know, he and I come from fairly opposite ends of the spectrum; but I felt it was still appropriate for him to have his say. I have been working on family law for over 18 years, on all sides of it. I have never seen any of the things happen that Ian considers happen routinely. I certainly wouldn’t question his integrity – I am sure that people have told him that these things have happened in their cases, and I am sure that some of these things have happened to some people.

      The only one that stikes any sort of chord with me is 18, and here I agree that sometimes the system looks for flaws in relatives rather than giving them the colossal head-start that the law suggests they should have. That is something that is ripe for a proper scrutiny and review, and I agree with John Hemming’s proposals to reform the law in this area. [I am aware, of course, that cases of 3 and 4 exist though are by no means routine, and suspect that there is still a culture of 8, with Judges giving the impression to those representing themselves that they are not given the same respect as others]

      But I’m not going to debate with Ian – he has his website, for those who are interested in his stance and the advice that he gives to parents, and I have this one, which is for a different audience.

      • You are as you state ‘a LA hack’ I do not think anyone who has not personally experienced the ‘system where social workers are involved will understand- you are paid a wage to do a job.for the LA- so will play to the piper- you will not risk your 18 years of having a secure job, even if you were aware of unethical practices, (some comments on social work blogs are revealing).

        I want to remind you that Kim Bromley Derry who was then a chair of children’s services was reported to state that social workers being vindictive is not uncommon. Their ‘education’ does not give them professional skills / depth of knowledge. If you read their blogs many will say that their course fails to prepare them for the work they find themselves doing. Their turnover (at least of SW’s in my LA) is very great- save for senior mangers, (says something ominous about management I think). When you understand this and the ‘back covering’ defensive local authority stances, now a common occurance, you will begin to realise that you may not be entirely objective about child protection / safeguarding work from where you stand.

        It is only when people feel that serious injustices are widespread, as clearly child protection / adult safeguarding is beginning to show up, does a movement of ‘anti-‘ begin to start its own ball rolling- as clearly we can see from the websites and blogs now abounding and growing. This is not how it should be in a democracy with elected representatives. That only one MP has even tried to do anything says much for the country’s politicians who look for personal gains / profile in a media led environment.

        It takes guts to start looking at what is going on in a more objective or open minded manner- but those on the ‘gravy train’ do not have what is needed. Hemmings is one of those who does not fit the ‘gravy train’ picture.

        I have worked at an ‘equal level’ with SW’s, (one actually took over from a job I once held), and have had experience of them from the other end over longer than your working life as a ‘hack’- so I do know their ways rather well.

  34. Hi
    Your advice seems really reasonable for those who are being dealt with by social workers who do their jobs properly, I’ve just had my son removed based upon lies told by someone trying to exact revenge upon me. There was no concern the day before and them four people turned up forced their way on to the house, bullied us in to signing the paper work. This all after we have asked for help and not revived it, had them just not turn up to meetings as they feel like it with no phone call, when they have written reports they have been inaccurate at best mostly just untrue. I have never shouted at these people l have always been admiable and still they just abuse their power. Your advice is great but not in the corrupt world my social workers live in, if my story doesnt fit their idea of what it should be they just make if up up fit the bill. If only life were so simple that we could follow this advice and have it work for us, instead we are having to go through an arduous complaints system that will take forever to get any where and in the mean time these people think they can just invade my home when ever they like with no warning.

    • That’s a very fair point, Berry. I don’t doubt that there are bad social workers in the world, just as there are bad teachers, doctors, plumbers, dentists. My advice would only take you a limited way if you are being genuinely mistreated, rather than having a social worker have to tell you uncomfortable things. I don’t doubt that some people have been very badly treated by social workers, but I don’t think most social workers are bad people. Which, as you can see, a lot of the commenters to the thread disagree with, as they are entitled to.

      • “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke).

        It is easier in general to personally deal with bad doctors, plumbers, teachers etc. The general view about these is not fearful or worryingly negative. That cannot be said for modern day social workers or social services departments.

        I know of someone whose daughter was studying to be a doctor whose friend decided to go and see what becoming a social worker would be like. She was horrified and decided against a career in social work. It is interesting the, now defunct, general social care council reports that a considerably higher proportion of those taking social work degrees are not white (16% black people compared to 5% HESA all student statistics UK).

        In a country where racism has often been an issue in institutions these figures are interesting because the route to personal power comes from having a social work degree, for which the academic standard of entry is not equal to other professions. It is noted many SW’s now come from other countries with not fluent English. This mix with career driven, back covering managers does make for a system to be fearful about.

  35. I think perhaps the worst thing in the care system is the way children in the 8-15 age group are treated when they are taken into “care” .Their mobile phones are confiscated and when applicable so are their laptops.They are isolated from their friends,parents,grandparents and even sometimes their siblings.No communication of any kind is permitted and when parents are finally allowed to visit in cold impersonal contact centres all conversation is strictly censored so that no mention can be made of the court case,why they are here and what chances they have of returning home.No weeping and no excessive affection can be shown .Any breach of these and countless other rules in the “contact agreement “parents are obliged to sign, and contact will be stopped at once and sometimes for good .These children are treated worse than murderers and rapists in prison because those criminals at least are allowed to make phone calls and can discuss what they like with visitors whilst children who have done nothing wrong can do neither ! No wonder these unfortunate children wonder if they are evil or if they have done something terribly wicked.Only the scum of the earth would inflict such cruel indignities on innocent children.

    • I have to concur with every word Ian says here, I can vouch that all of it is true. I was made to sign a contact document before i saw my son. It stated that i was not allowed to say I love you to him, no physical contact unless the child instigated it. Not allowed to use my own car if going out, only public transport to be utilised. No mention of my ex or any mention of court proceedings. The next condition is going to suprise you, but its the truth none the less… “no mention of your son’s education or schooling or any questions regarding it.” I have to say that what Ian says is absolutely accurate and the process left me feeling degraded and abused, but I love my son, so I guess I had to comply, but I didn’t like it one bit. To this day this treatment has deeply affected my life and confidence in any fairness in the terrible system that prevails. I got the impression that Cafcass got a kick out of making me sign this draconiun contact form, now I am left with the feeling that I wish I had not, I guess its called… keeping your dignity, but now i feel i have lost it, even if I did get to see the son I love.

    • Hi Ian, whilst I don’t agree with ‘scum of the earth’, I think your broad point about the devastating impact of the care system on children is well made, and it is vital that nobody overlooks how awful the experience can be for children, and also how the restrictions on contact can make an experience still worse.

  36. Pingback: what should you do if social services steal your children? | Parents Against Injustice.

  37. Dear Sue, (moderator) I apolagize for my posting about you not publishing 2 of my comments, I now see you have, (just to quick paul!) Owing to this I think it only fair that you you remove my posting that says you didn’t post them. I am sorry again, I withdraw the comparison of Mussolini etc. Paul. (oops!)

  38. I agree with you suesspiciousminds; “scum of the earth” is too moderate a term to describe the creatures who do these wicked things at “contact” to innocent children who have done no wrong !

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