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  2. Without being too partial – there is a huge disconnect and frustration at the mutual understanding between social work practice and the law. Social workers simply cannot understand the depth of ignorance of and disregard for research, statistics and outcomes displayed by the bench , Judges are frustrated by the lack of understanding of evidence and Human Rights issues by social workers

  3. The focus seems to be on outcomes: was the decision the correct decision? With the assumption that it can only be a result test – if things turns out ok, limited it seems to whether or not the placement breaks down, then it was the correct decision. Surely it’s clear that this is a simplistic, binary approach?

    What about whether or not witnesses and parties (services users) advocates perceive the tribunal to be knowledgeable, polite and fair? A party is in my experience much more likely to be able to accept and work with a decision if they believe that the court heard all parties politely and assessed them fairly and people’s views were respected. Thus itself for example could make the difference as to whether or not for a parent can come in time to accept placement and may then in turn affect whether or not post adoption contact takes place.

    Tribunals appear sometimes to forget that the way they speak to an advocate, even the opposing party’s advocate, affects how the parties assess their fairness. They also forget that the social worker, children and parents have known each other a long time and will have to pick up the pieces and work with the fallout of the hearing for some time to come. The tribunal’s disposition has a great effect on this and paying compliments to one party and criticising another has implications of which they are sometimes only superficially aware.

    Then there is the question of assessing whether or not a witness is honest and open. Too many lawyers, including judges, do not understand their own misconceptions about how they assess evidence, despite the great deal of psychological research on this. Even when this is known, it’s hard to catch ones own confirmation bias at work.

    Finally, tribunals become battle weary and hardened and there is something to be said for sabbatical placements in a different region getting different, non-legal, experiences.

    • Yes, it seemed that the judicial sample was fairly divided on whether they wanted to know outcomes of cases or whether they only really wanted to know happy outcomes. But I’d agree that outcome feedback is just one part of the whole experience and that the other issues that you raise are possibly even more important.

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