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Conference 2 – in Birmingham no-one can hear you scream

The Transparency Project are once again involved in a multi-disciplinary conference about the child protection system – entitled “The Child Protection System – Where do we go from here?”.

This conference, is the second held by its organisers and is intended to be a genuine conversation between professionals of different disciplines AND those whose lives the court and child protection system actually affects. It is being held on 3 June in Birmingham and will be  More Amazing than Being Bruce Wayne*. The conference will be opened by DJ Gailey, and will involve all sorts of other interesting and challenging speakers and participants (Maggie Siviter, Clare Fenton-Glynn, Dr Lauren Devine, Brid Featherstone, Louise Tickle, Lucy Reed – hopefully some real parents too, as they were so good last year).

Do take a look at the information, circulate it to colleagues and friends, tweet it like crazy and share it on all your weird facebook yahoo google groups – and book a place!

*the author is not responsible for any difference of opinion between us about what constitutes “More Amazing than Being Bruce Wayne”     – frankly, I may be overselling it, because he has a butler who is also like a surgeon, his boring day job is dating models – that’s the part of his life that is LESS COOL and that he finds less enjoyable and he (sshhh) is secretly Batman.

Astute blog-readers may have picked up on the fact that I have largely stolen this from Lucy Reed’s post due to pressure of time. Hers had slightly less Batman references, which means that mine is the winner.

 

http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=1502

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About suesspiciousminds

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

60 responses

  1. Be more convincing if speakers included Christopher Booker,John Hemming,Maggie Tuttle,Lynne Daniels, and other virulent critics( even myself ) rather than the bunch of establishment type figures presented as speakers in the list quoted.

  2. I for one can not wait! We will be there! We had to miss the first one due to unforeseen matters last year. Regards TC and Silent Me…..

  3. I am delighted to say that Surviving Safeguarding will also be speaking. People are invited to make their own minds up as to whether she, Brigid Featherstone and Dr Devine etc, etc make up a ‘bunch of establishment’ figures.

    In my view that is a fantastically lazy and inaccurate comment to make. But don’t just take my word for it…

    • Sure ! 100% professional types and not an aggrieved parent or reformist campaigner in sight !
      Bravo !

      • I thought the message was clear: if you think you can do better, organise your own conference!!!! We will be attending with an open mind but also as a)aggrieved parents and b)as non fee charging McK F’s.

      • The official speakers are all professionals and their speeches will take up most of the time.
        I do not see why I should be prevented from criticising the choice of speakers unless I organise a conference myself ! Anyone can criticise food served up to them without being a chef !

      • True, but the owner of the restaurant can also tell you to clear off if you’re being loudly critical.

        I’ll try to be politer than that though. The purpose of the Conference is to talk about where the system is letting parents down and how the system can be improved and made better. The people you suggested think that the system should be torn down. That’s fine, they’re entitled to have that view, and many share it. It’s not a good fit though for the purpose. At the last conference the parents who had been involved in care proceedings and who were able to talk about the bad experiences they had had were very powerful and inspirational speakers and given time to tell their stories. Some of them were damn aggrieved, and had every right to be.

      • I went last year under my own steam, I happened to be between jobs, but will do so again (very little LA funding for anything like conferences but this one is at least a reasonable price!). I didn’t see a delegates list but it felt like there was a good mix, and probably 25% of the room were parents, it was a small conference which I hope gets bigger. The structure was helpful for everyone in terms of having the space they needed. There were some papers delivered/speakers, workshops and then a Q&A during which I heard a number of stories from parents and McKenzie Friends. I had the privilege of hearing safeguardingsurvivor tell her story for what I think was the first time. The Q&A probably offered less space to professionals than others, I don’t know what others would say, but as a SW I wanted to listen more than speak. It also felt like an anti SW space, because we are talking systemically, so that should please you? The SW who spoke up was someone who was all about working with families in the way that we know we can and was probably someone who works as hard as I do to work with families and ameliorate fear of the profession. I would be fairly confident there was nobody there who didn’t think the system needs to change and that nobody there had any qualms about speaking to power in a way which makes them anti establishment by definition.

  4. ashamedtobebritish

    Wish I could get there, I really do … I’m not sure if journey to hear Maggie Tuttle tbh, her hearts in the right place most of the time, she does need to wind her neck in on certain subjects and not attack personally when others don’t do what she wants them to.
    Anyway I’m not here for that … I’m gutted I can’t get there

  5. safeguardingsurvivor

    “the bunch of establishment type figures presented as speakers in the list quoted”
    “The official speakers are all professionals and their speeches will take up most of the time”.

    You’ve met me Ian, and you know that I’m not an establishment-type-figure. I am not a professional. I am not a social worker. I am not a lawyer. I am not an academic. I’m no one special. What I AM is an aggrieved parent, and one that the system failed my entire family. But whilst I am that, I do not believe the way to right the system’s wrongs is by anger, aggression, hostility, and inciting moral panic by using extreme action and language.

    It doesn’t work.

    Similarly, trying to convince yourself as an aggrieved parent that it is all the system’s fault and you played no part, also doesn’t work.

    There needs to be a third way. A way in which we as “aggrieved parents” can come together and work alongside social workers, lawyers, local authorities and government to create a system which is humane.

    To do that, we need to have a conversation. And to do that, we need balance.

    So I will be there in June. And I will speak about what happened to my family. The mistakes that I made, and the mistakes that the system made. And then we will have a conversation about what we can do to create a more humane, collaborative system where children are protected and families stay together.

    And it might interest you to know that one of the things that I will be doing to contribute to that system change is to set up (alongside others) a parental advocacy system, so that every single parent going through proceedings has someone alongside them to advise and support them and to ensure they have a voice.
    Of course to set that up, I need money. So, instead of financially helping vulnerable women flee the country, why don’t you invest some money in my project and help me to help parents in the right way.

    Food for thought, anyway.

    • safeguarding survivor: I can not 100% agree with your comments* but think we can build a working relationship and see how we can get your project off the ground. (* genuinely can not work out what I did ‘wrong’/’mistakes’.,,well I can- but not posting it here!) I look forward to meeting you at conference. TC

  6. Ian, I take quite some offence with your comment above and its not often that happens,I often just remain silent, while your opinions and views generally are against most thing positive I think you should be aware of a few things here.

    It was myself and a care leaver/mother/suffer of the CP system who spent over 5 years getting the first conference off the ground last year, we planted the seed so to speak, it also included many meetings with MP’s including John Hemming to get the conference started, from the outset it was important the conference was not to be a “Them v Us” and it was to be a conference where people who attend had the passion and belief that the CP system is not perfect but there are some changes needed, if you remember back to last years conference it was titled “Is the Child Protection Fir for Purpose?”.

    If you had attended the conference last year you would have seen that although a little rough round the edges people who attended respected each other no matter their titles, job description and no matter the drive that took them there, each person had a voice, whether it was protect the system as it stood or do something to change it, parents, adopters, care leavers, social workers, lawyers, guardians, and any other had a platform which was widely received by all, surely you can see how positive it can be to hold such a conference like that.

    It maybe true that some parts of the child protection system are bad that a good few sticks of dynamite would be useful to fix it, however and most crucially we simply cannot constantly seek for the destruction of the Child Protection system, you and I both know its value, or at least I would hope you would.

    For the past decade and longer I have seen conference upon conference, protest upon protest all doing their own thing, a division was always going to be there while that would be the case, Parents held their own, the professionals held theirs and never the twain should meet.

    I felt that to be very very wrong from both sides, we needed a cards on the table sort of conference where no one who is involved in Child Protection was missed, that was my only purpose for the conference from the get go, and last year it worked tremendously.

    It was a very enlightening conference last year where the realities and problems faced by both sides of the page reached the right audience, yes including those whom like you would like to see its destruction.

    There is absolutely no point in screaming rhetoric if those you need to hear it are not there, for too long over the decades it seemed to be the only way voices were loosely heard, that’s if that goal was ever achieved.

    So now we have the conference this June, it is not a simple tea party with “establishment” figures all saying the opposite sort of rhetoric you do, it is clearly not the case, and, if you look at the list of speakers you will see names on there who are simply not fitting into your demographic.

    The names you mention above are very vocal in what they say about the CP System, its their prerogative to do that, sometimes to their detriment I should add, that said, have you ever thought how hard it actually is changing someones mindset to read the whole story, read the other side of the pages, we can never get to the whole story if pages are missing, the pages those people read are only from a single side of a system, a system with many facets with many more pages to the story.

    Could you imagine how difficult it was spending 5 years trying to set up a single conference where the divisions between the parties was so entrenched that it was quite possible the conference may never even taken place at all, that was always my worry, I mean come on, a few years ago how many Social Workers would want to share the same platform with Parents and vice versa, it was an almighty task to deal with and that was only just one issue.

    I am so pleased that since the conference of last year more are following suit I have seen even today another high profile conferences taking place with the same sort of footing I wanted those 5 years ago, parents/service users on the center stage at a conference where what they say is listened too, acted upon and more so the parents and others ARE taken seriously, personally I think that I can say that’s Job done!

    • No offence intended Andrew ;Let me just say that remembering my Oxford Union days more than 60 years ago I prefer the format of a debate with a motion put that is either supported or opposed by invited speakers and then those taking sides from the audience. An example being a debate in London that I recently attended that was chaired by Sir James Munby and the motion was to the effect “is adoption without parental consent justified?”
      I do not enjoy speaking only to the converted and there was no danger of that in the debate in London so I really enjoyed the controversy ..

      • I enjoy that sort of debate too, it has its place. [I thought that the debate chaired by the President was great – not sure how many left having their initial views altered in any way, but still great]

        Jerry puts it much better than I could as to the aims of this conference though.

      • I’d agree with Andrew, great to have a debate, but that reinforces positions and the adversarial position we are in. Better to have a discussion and reach consensus.

  7. Here is a synopsis of what happened at the last event in case Ian needs his memory jogging
    http://www.familylaw.co.uk/news_and_comment/is-the-child-protection-system-fit-for-purpose#.Vsgw3ltUtFI

    To say that those speakers – many of whom are speaking again on June 3rd – are part of an ‘establishment tea party’ is so bizarre and so untrue that anyone who makes that accusation is either dishonest or just doesn’t care about what they say.

    And I hope no one who is campaigning to change the current system falls into either of those categories.

    Thank you Surviving Safeguarding and Jerry for your comments. I agree with everything that you say.

    The conference yesterday organised by BASW was indeed inspiring. Many senior SW figures saying almost exactly what the Josephs and the Tuttles are saying BUT with one enormous and important difference – their energies are directed outwards, in a wish to make a positive change. The work of Tobis in NYC was a fascinating example of how parent advocates were part of a shift in the system that saw rates of children taken into care drop from about 50K to 10K.

    If anyone is interested and is on Twitter, then have a look at #cpchange2016.

    It is possible to seek change without signing up to dangerous and destructive narrative. Constantly parroting a dangerous and destructive narrative is in fact a massive barrier to change because no one who matters is likely to take you seriously or agree with you.

    The message from yesterday was clear – we need funding to make these changes happen. That is something we will explore on June 3rd. But it is a great tragedy that money and efforts are currently being spent by those such as Josephs and Hemming in ways that only hurt vulnerable parents, rather than help them.

    To enjoy ‘controversy’ for the sake of it and to care little or nothing for the impact of your words is a pretty empty and destructive path to take. Its up to Ian what he does with his time of course, but his careless comments can have a very negative impact and I wish he would think little more carefully before making them.

    • ashamedtobebritish

      It’s good to hear the conference went well and that good things may come of it, if they do then it’s a job well done.

      I cannot agree with parents and children being harmed however, not one child who has fled abroad has been harmed to date, unless you have evidence otherwise? They are living safely as happy families.
      I’m not a great advocate of the ‘fleeing’, in that I try nnot to advise it unless there is absolutely no hope of a fair hearing, I do however know it works and works well to keep families safely together without the need for forced adoption, which ultimately destroys the lives of the entire family and the adopted child themselves, this ripple effect can continue across many generations, this is not a ‘here and now’ solution, far from it.

      If it were me in that position, I’d be protecting my child from such savage corruption, packing the passports, a pair of clean panties and off!

      • I know of lots of cases where ‘fleeing’ was absolutely disastrous for the family and resulted in the child never living with the parent again.

        But as apparently Ian keeps no records of who he sends and what happens to them, I don’t think we have any reliable idea of how good (or awful) this is.

        And in any event – would it not be better to work to make the system here better and improve people’s trust in it so they did not feel they had no option but to leave their homes and their wider families/support networks?

      • Sarah you know quite well that I don’t “send “anyone anywhere !
        I finance travel arrangements for pregnant women who want to give birth abroad to avoid forced adoption .What is wrong with that,,? I break no laws and neither do they.Only interfering busybodies more often than not in league with fostering and adoption agencies make a fuss because if too many get away the floodgates might open and the millions they make in profits could be endangered;

      • ashamedtobebritish

        Of course, it would indeed, but until such time that the corruption ends, terrified mothers are going to run to safety, why wouldn’t they?
        The raw pain these children feel when separated from their families is not something that can be described, it’s a life time pain, anguish and causes mental imbalance, which is then often an excuse to remove that child’s child, creating issue to feed the never ending circle of pain is destroying society.
        No parent wants that for their child, nor should they, when there’s only one option, you take it.
        The UK children’s services do manage to get children back after fleeing, which as you state does lead to the families being separated forever … I’d have thought that a closer look into the parents dedication to their child would be looked at in so far as they are prepared to uproot their whole lives to protect their children from a rotten system, unfortunately , it’s simply further excuse to damn these desparate families to a lifetime of hell, punishment for challenging a LA is rife, who are they to walk into people’s lives and expect them to kiss butt under the threat that they’ll take their child? It’s narcissism in the extreme

      • The industry you talk of costs the state a fortune. You support frightened people to flee when they need support & their support networks by scaremongering.

      • The fostering and adoption industry does indeed cost the State a fortune with all the SWs and other parasites living off it and all the adoption and fostering agencies making millions out of the miseries of others! Also of course horrible “special schools “that charge the State far more per child than it cost to send both Princes Harry and William together to Eton !
        I do help pregnant women escape abroad to foil the vultures whose idea of support is to take their babies at birth to feed the greedy adoption and fostering industry !

      • You are the vulture preying on fear.

  8. And not wishing to labour the point or anything, but maybe Ian would also be interested to read about this
    http://childprotectionresource.online/promoting-humane-social-work-with-families/

  9. The invited speakers are mostly professional types who usually take up at least half the available debating time but the audience are of course a mixed bag (maybe including Sarah,Andrew, safeguarding survivor,and Jerry !) and I never pretended otherwise.To say others propose solutions or changes and I do not is the opposite of the truth.Even Louise Tickle who does take up individual cases does not suggest effective reforms.
    I certainly wish to make positive change as follows.:- (So even if you disagree admit at least that my criticisms are always constructive )

    TEN REFORMS THAT WOULD END MOST OF THE INJUSTICES:-

    1:-NO child should be taken from law abiding citizens ;There should be no punishment without crime ! If a parent is charged with a serious crime the child should be removed but returned if a not guilty verdict is given by the jury..

    2:- Forced adoption should be abolished. Definition:- Adoption that is forced on parents who oppose it in court asking to keep their children

    3:- No gagging orders should be placed on parents who must be allowed to protest to the media using their own names when their children are taken .

    4:-Parents should be permitted to have a limited number of friends and relatives to support them and to observe their processes in the family court;

    5:- No restrictions should be placed on conversations between parents and children at contact and children should be free to report abuse by carers.Freedom of Speech is paramount:-

    5:- Parents who have not committed crimes against children should never be forbidden to contact their children by email ,phone,or letter.

    6:- Parents who are suspected of having mental problems or learning difficulties should be able to consult their own experts and bring them to court with any other relevant witnesses they choose.

    7:-Parents should be free to bring their own expert witnesses to testify concerning injuries that may or may not have been non accidental

    8:-Parents must be allowed to call their own children to court to testify for them.-As former minister for justice Simon Hughes said “children of age 10+ should be free to come to court if they wish to testify on their parent’s behalf” The United Nations convention on children’s rights confirms all this.

    9:- Family courts should pronounce all persons before them innocent of accusations and allegations unless proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt.They should never judge any person to be at fault on the balance of probabilities (51%+)

    10:-Domestic violence confined to shouting should not result in confiscation of children .Victims of partners who have actually been convicted of domestic violence should never be penalised by removal of their children as long as they have separated from the perpetrator and taken all possible measures to protect their children from future violence by that person.

    • TEN REFORMS THAT WOULD END MOST OF THE INJUSTICES:-

      1:-NO child should be taken from law abiding citizens; There should be no punishment without crime! If a parent is charged with a serious crime the child should be removed but returned if a not guilty verdict is given by the jury..

      “Serious Crime” the parameters are far too wide, in order to establish if any crime has been committed then surely the child should be removed in order for ABE interviews and so forth to be carried out, you cannot establish if the crime did or did not occur without it; a child covered head to toe in bruises surely should not remain in the care of the parents/guardian until what happened has been established.

      2:- Forced adoption should be abolished. Definition:- Adoption that is forced on parents who oppose it in court asking to keep their children.

      None consensual adoption, [Munby P debate last year], Nothing Else Will Do, It has been well established and set in stone now since 2013, also, with that, an assessment process that flows to establish that there are no other options other than adoption, there are a plethora of reported case authorities emphasising that very face, Re. B, Re. B-S, Re. W (Neath and Port Talbot), to name but a few.

      3:- No gagging orders should be placed on parents who must be allowed to protest to the media using their own names when their children are taken.

      Privacy for children involved in proceedings, Section 97 CA 89 is there for a very good reason, as we have seen of late, it is not only about Parents in these matters, I find it quite galling that the rights of a parent you say here trounces the protection of the child, cast your mind back to the Webster’s v Norfolk in 2009 or even the most recent Louise Tickle article and court proceedings, the Webster case did set a precedent with very good reasons however permitting every single parent who feels they have been wronged to speak freely is dangerous and the thoughts should never cross their minds, as you know Ian, I spend almost all of my days in court, you seem to be freely advocating that parents report their own wrong doings as well, dare I mention the Christopher Booker articles in 2012 that were found to be wronged when the other parent within the case spoke out.

      Further, I would also stress that you seem to forget about balance, if a parent is found to have harmed a child and that parent has spoken openly about the proceedings could then be faced with mob rule, vigilante and similar, the dangerous implications do not bare thinking about if the child/ren are still at home with their parents, the right to speak out has more problems that just giving a parent a mega phone, I always advocate for transparency and openness however serious thoughts and serious care should be taken rather than your ad hoc approach.

      4:-Parents should be permitted to have a limited number of friends and relatives to support them and to observe their processes in the family court;

      This happens more than you think, I have been a supporter to 1000’s parents in all kinds of capacities, even when the parent(s) have full counsel representing them, all it takes is the parent to ask the Judge, in some cases even that is not needed, I would be very surprised if any judge or party would object to anyone being in the court room to play a supportive roll to a parent, if a supporter is refused to be in court I will be certain it’s for a very good reason, however I would question the reasons to be “Observing” under what basis would they need to “observe”, “here, come to court and see how bad they treat me” is that the line of thinking with that?

      5:- No restrictions should be placed on conversations between parents and children at contact and children should be free to report abuse by carers.Freedom of Speech is paramount:-

      Again this seems to be a parents right trouncing the child’s rights, Contact has and should always be about spending quality time with children, the process, proceedings and any other negative aspect should be left at the door, of course if an allegation is made by the child to a parent it should be fully investigated however is a contact session the right arena? if a parent is entrenched within the proceedings that flow into the contact arena then personally that would cause me concern that the parent is not thinking about the child, I feel this is what it is really about, if a child had a fall at school or any other place and the child turns up to contact with bumps and scrapes, yes explanation’s should be given and from experience it happens that way, I have been to many god awful contact venues to understand the dynamics of the places and what go on during contact sessions. I think that your thinking about freedom of speech is slightly different from mine given that there are some things children should never know about and that is fact, if you want to protect the children and family units as a whole then freedom of speech should have significant limitations.

      5:- Parents who have not committed crimes against children should never be forbidden to contact their children by email ,phone,or letter.

      I remember a case not so long back where a Child witnessed his mother being murdered by their father, the Father applied for letterbox, and communications with the child, through the prison system, are you saying that should be permitted, just because the crime may not be committed against the child why would you want to put a child through that god awful situation, I suggest you read Q v Q (number 3). Yet again it seems a parent’s right (if one could call it that) trouncing a child’s protection from serious harm.

      6:- Parents who are suspected of having mental problems or learning difficulties should be able to consult their own experts and bring them to court with any other relevant witnesses they choose.

      A good point and a very valid one, more often than not a case becomes entrenched with experts that the courts tend to be selective on who can be called, however the parent still has the right to call anyone they want within reason and as long as the correct process has been followed, repeating a quote from Lord Justice McFarlane “If a Mother wants to call the bin man she has every right to do so” article 6 HRA is paramount here, I would add though this point would also tie in to your point above about having supporters within the court proceedings, especially if concerns of mental health are known.

      7:-Parents should be free to bring their own expert witnesses to testify concerning injuries that may or may not have been non accidental.

      Up until the recent changes with Part 25 it was always an option with parents to seek second opinions, as found in Re. G v Oldham, it should be the onus of the parent to seek their own expert and often is, I feel that your taking out of contents a few cases you may have been told about rather than it being the norm, last year for example I assisted mother to bring in her own NHS medical experts, it proved to be a good call during the trial, again though your point seems to suggest its “Forbidden” for a parent to do this, it is far from the case and in my experience I often call many renowned experts to prep reports and give evidence even on a pro bono basis.

      8:-Parents must be allowed to call their own children to court to testify for them.-As former minister for justice Simon Hughes said “children of age 10+ should be free to come to court if they wish to testify on their parent’s behalf” The United Nations convention on children’s rights confirms all this.

      You may have a valid point with this however have you thought about the impact on children throughout this list of reforms you have written here, it seems on the face the child is a second thought here and only the parents’ rights trounce those of the child, the child is second as long as a parent can PROVE their innocence, which is not what care proceedings I am 100% honest here that the cases I deal with in almost all the parents continue to protect their children by not wanting them to speak within the courts, if a child is required to give evidence the matter is discussed at length and protections are put in place, even with such serious matters no matter the case, even when the child could point the case in a different direction, my own feelings have always been is that a court room is not a place for a child, however I will see your point and raise you the current guidance, given that a child can and often does speak within the courts, including private cases, the guidance was laid out in 2010 and has been used quite recently, there has also been cases where children younger than ten have been in court, and, as recently as last week the case with the child speaking in court over serious matters really did not help the case but placed the child in an awkward position, you feel that a parent cross examining the child is a positive however what about the cross examination of the child by other parties, what would it achieve, why put a child through that, if in the end it made little or no difference within the case.
      The guidance for those wanting to see it can be found here.

      https://fnf.org.uk/phocadownload/downloads/guidelines_for_judges_meeting_children.pdf

      9:- Family courts should pronounce all persons before them innocent of accusations and allegations unless proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt.They should never judge any person to be at fault on the balance of probabilities (51%+)

      I feel you miss the entire point here, it also reflects on the point above about “Serious Crimes” A family court could not pronounce any such point because as you know the facts may not have been established, the principles of the case may not be known, the parents and all are not in a position to “cards on the table” like I feel your suggesting,

      If we take the balance of probability point on its own merit then how do you expect any tribunal to conclude what happened to the child if it sustained an injury serious or other, which the child does not know how it happened, the parents don’t know what happened, the experts don’t know what happened, however the child still remained significantly injured.

      Parents can and often do lie about their situations when their parenting is brought into question and sometimes they lie though fear I should add, a judge has to determine how can a child sustain such an injury, doesn’t the child deserve to be protected here, what if the child sustained injury and no fault found by your proposals then a repeat happened to the child later down the line.

      I agree entirely that the balance of probability can be sometimes used as a get out clause to form a full and proper investigation and findings of fact hearings can leave one party seriously deficient in challenging the rest of the case, even more so when an F of F is almost impossible to appeal, at this point one would suggest that like some of the above points you raise could all fall under this category, calling of experts, calling of children, contacts and so forth could shift the scales of balance, as long as the parents arguments are done properly, if the above were carried out as I have commented then there would be no outcome of a balance negative towards a parent unless after all the evidence and so forth still pointed to a parent who’s carried out the harm that is the whole point of care proceedings.

      10:-Domestic violence confined to shouting should not result in confiscation of children .Victims of partners who have actually been convicted of domestic violence should never be penalised by removal of their children as long as they have separated from the perpetrator and taken all possible measures to protect their children from future violence by that person.

      I am not sure if you are aware of the new section 76 of the serious crimes act 2014, Coercive Control, or the recent case of Munby P in Re. A, and his very helpful comments surrounding “Parental Arguments” however, [fed up of using that word but hey ho] have you read cases or witnessed cases where kids who reach teenage years who’d witnessed the “Shouting” as you suggest then go on to repeat with their own partner’s, feeling that because nothing was done to protect either parent the child can then become used to it and not know it is wrong, if a relationship is prone to shouting then I am sorry here but that can often lead to more serious and significant issues, maybe spending a bit of time in a women’s refuge you will see that “Shouting” is just as serious as physical violence, it should not be tolerated and should not be advocated as a lesser of the two evils.

      I would also add that with Re A a child by President Munby he goes on to answer some of the reforms you mention here, they can be summarised within these two poignant paragraphs

      “It is for the local authority to prove that there is the necessary link between the facts upon which it relies and its case on Threshold. The local authority must demonstrate why certain facts, if proved, “justify the conclusion that the child has suffered or is at the risk of suffering significant harm” of the type asserted by the local authority. “The local authority’s evidence and submissions must set out the arguments and explain explicitly why it is said that, in the particular case, the conclusion [that the child has suffered or is at the risk of suffering significant harm] indeed follows from the facts [proved]”.

      It is vital that local authorities, and, even more importantly, judges, bear in mind that nearly all parents will be imperfect in some way or other. The State will not take away the children of “those who commit crimes, abuse alcohol or drugs or suffer from physical or mental illness or disability, or who espouse antisocial, political or religious beliefs” simply because those facts are established. It must be demonstrated by the local authority, in the first place, that by reason of one or more of those facts, the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering significant harm. Even if that is demonstrated, adoption will not be ordered unless it is demonstrated by the local authority that “nothing else will do” when having regard to the overriding requirements of the child’s welfare. The court must guard against “social engineering”.

      I am not here to say your wrong Ian, nor am I here to say your right, I just hope with some of my comments and thoughts you may feel that some tweaking to the reforms you have suggested may need changing a little, time and the process has moved on significantly since you probably wrote them, I will be honest in saying it’s not the first time I have come across these from you, some of the points you make can be a good cause for a further debate, one where no right or wrong answer would be key, I just hope that since the years you have been pushing for these 10 reforms you may understand that in order to seek reform you need to be a more open to the other side of the page, like I replied above, there are many pages to the story and without reading the whole book one can often miss very important factors, that, I feel has been your drive for quite a long time in that you take what a parent says as face value without little or any thought about the what if’s.

      • Jerry my answer to your lengthy but no doubt well mean’t comments are as follows

        1:- A serious crime is any alleged crime that the police think justifies charging the parents and removal of the children.The important thing is that if the parents are cleared (charges dropped or found not guilty) then their children should be returned.

        2: Forced adoption unlike “adoption without parental consent” does not include cases where children have been abandoned or where parents have neither consented nor opposed adoption ie given up struggling.
        Other countries do without these thousands of cases up and down the land with parents contesting in court the adoption of their children.If other countries can do without forced adoption so can we so it can never be a last resort when others find different remedies.
        To tell a mother that she must lose her baby at birth to adoption because there is a risk of future emotional abuse is grotesque and clearly absurd to call such a draconian action a last resort !Easy to say adoption is a last resort when it only came in obligatorily in 1976 and they did without it before that !

        3/ i believe in free speech not gagging orders that prevent both parents and children protesting via the media at their forced separation.Why assume this infringes children’s rights or even baby’s rights of privacy when more often than not it supports their desire to remain with their parent(s) as they are dragged screaming away in the small hours by uniformed police ! Gagging orders are made to protect the oppressors not the oppressed !

        4:- I think you know quite well that the usher stops relatives of parents who are not parties to the case from going into the court in nearly every case and they never in practice get near a judge to ask or even know they could do so. I can only say that this is the experience of most parents especially very youngsingle mothers who contact me.

        5(a) How can gagging children by forbidding them to report abuse in fostercare be “trumping their rights”? How can forcing children to speak to their parents in broken English and forbidding them their first native language be trumping their rights? How can gagging both parents and children from saying they miss each other and so giving the impression that they don’t do so be trumping their rights? Gagging parents and children is simply a brutal way of breaking bonds between family members and should be outlawed !

        5(b)Of course children should always be allowed to communicate with their parents if they so desire..A murderer in jail can as a rule phone out and talk freely with visitors? whilst children when taken into care have their phones and laptops confiscated and are gagged if they try to complain about anything to their parents.The kids are treated far worse than the murderers you mention . Jailing mums for sending a birthday card or a dad for waving at his children when they passed by in the street is a grotesque exercise of power by those who hunger for it !

        6:- and 7:- We seem more or less to agree about the right of parents to call their own expert
        witnesses re injuries or mental problems.

        8:-Of course children should have the right to come to court IF THEY WANT TO DO SO !
        Too often SWs say the children do not wish to see their parents or to return home when the contrary is the case and the children are traumatised by being prevented from coming to tell the truth when they are anxious to do so.Children who want to have their say should not have their rights trampled on to protect social workers and guardians.

        9:- Too often a judge will decide on probabilities that the” father did it” or the” mother did it” when a child is injured resulting in that person being unable to work with children again just like a “guilty verdict”even though the evidence is flimsy and would never result in a criminal conviction. Sorry ,but guesswork should never condemn anyone let alone a loving parent !

        10:- Of course shouting parents should not result in forced adoption of their children.Quote all the cases you like but none of them justified such a result as many couples shout and row daily but still care for each other and their children .We do not all have the English phlegmatic temperament as my french wife sometimes reminds me !

        Lastly I do not accept everything parents tell me .I ask for the position statement of the LA or at least their allégations and even assuming them to be true they rarely justify removal of children or worse still forced adoption.Most of the parents who contact me by email or phone love their children and are desperate to fight in court to keep them.The baby p type of parent would not go near me or a court ! That does not mean I believe everything the parents who do contact me tell me but it usually means that they love their kids and will fight to keep them.
        I am more concerned with helping parents who want to keep their newborn babies and Young children rather than be a one man band forcing through reforms !
        I say what needs to be done because unlike most commentators I will not criticise anyone or anything without suggesting what should be done to improve matters.I see no reason to change that especially as the suggested reforms have evolved out of my experience.
        The UK is the ONLY country in the world where a steady Stream of pregnant women leave the UK to give birth in more civilised countries such as France,N.Cyprus, or Ireland that do not believe in forced adoption.
        The idea that babies can be adopted because of possible future emotional abuse is barbaric.If I truly wished to predict my future I would prefer to go to Gypsy Rose Lee in her fairground tent as she and he ilk have been doing it all their lives and making a living at it so they have evolved quite accurate ways of predicting the future for talkative clients.Judges,social worker,guardians ,etc have no such training ,and no real experience with or without Crystal balls or tealeaves Tthe taking of children on the strength of their highly dubious prédictions is a crime on the children and should be halted forthwith.

      • I agree with Jerry but here’s by tuppence worth too;

        1. NO child should be taken from law abiding citizens ;There should be no punishment without crime ! If a parent is charged with a serious crime the child should be removed but returned if a not guilty verdict is given by the jury.

        There are many crimes including rape for example which are often committed in private and are he said she said cases. They are hard to prove beyond all reasonable doubt. Balance of probabilities is aimed at protecting children and ascertaining if they are law abiding disregarding conviction.

        2. Forced adoption should be abolished. Definition:- Adoption that is forced on parents who oppose it in court asking to keep their children

        Adoption numbers have dropped since re BS and there is a nothing else will do approach. Most children are placed within family and friends network. This may not achieve the permanence and stability they need, see SGO consultation.

        3. No gagging orders should be placed on parents who must be allowed to protest to the media using their own names when their children are taken .

        If parents can give their side of the story to the media, LAs should be allowed to comment. This would result in numerous parents being humiliated by the limits to their parenting capacity and inability to prioritize the needs of their children as well as being useful to those who have a grievance. If you are child focused, this isn’t actually in anyone’s interest.

        4. Parents should be permitted to have a limited number of friends and relatives to support them and to observe their processes in the family court.

        Parents are allowed support in court and in meetings. Rarely is anyone excluded when a parent requests his or her presence.

        5. No restrictions should be placed on conversations between parents and children at contact and children should be free to report abuse by carers. Freedom of Speech is paramount.

        Contact should be quality time between parents and children, not a whispering campaign, children should be protected from the adult world and if parents can’t do this they can emotionally damage their children. If you want to talk hierarchy or rights, freedom of speech doesn’t trump the rights of the child because children have paramouncy.

        5. Parents who have not committed crimes against children should never be forbidden to contact their children by email ,phone,or letter.

        See 1. Child is in care, or adopted, contact should be mediated for their protection & emotional wellbeing.

        6:- Parents who are suspected of having mental problems or learning difficulties should be able to consult their own experts and bring them to court with any other relevant witnesses they choose.

        I am sure you mean mental health issues. I think this is possible now so not sure why it is here. My view would be the more support equals more challenges to a case the better to make sure it is proven as it has to be in a family court. The onus is on the LA not the parent.

        7. Parents should be free to bring their own expert witnesses to testify concerning injuries that may or may not have been non accidental

        This is possible. Please don’t tell us you are telling anyone it isn’t?

        8. Parents must be allowed to call their own children to court to testify for them.-As former minister for justice Simon Hughes said “children of age 10+ should be free to come to court if they wish to testify on their parent’s behalf” The United Nations convention on children’s rights confirms all this.

        This can be a bit like a victim of DV being cross examined by LiP and underestimates over compliance and fear children feel. Give children the right to choose to attend or not. Otherwise your risk abusing them and the court process is generally something I would shield children from. That doesn’t mean their voice can’t be heard and it is via the Guardian.

        9. Family courts should pronounce all persons before them innocent of accusations and allegations unless proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt. They should never judge any person to be at fault on the balance of probabilities (51%+)

        This is about protecting children not adults. See 1.

        10. Domestic violence confined to shouting should not result in confiscation of children .Victims of partners who have actually been convicted of domestic violence should never be penalised by removal of their children as long as they have separated from the perpetrator and taken all possible measures to protect their children from future violence by that person.

        You have an archaic view of domestic violence and a lack of understanding of its impact upon children. Shouting has a physical impact on a child’s developing brain and, once a case is CP, it is never isolated from emotional abuse and control. It is unfortunate that some people have patterns of relationships despite a high level of intervention, I have enormous compassion and empathy for that, but not for the children who live through it.

      • 6week old Child, Birth certified at 2weeks, Case unexplained injury, Middlesbrough Magistrate Court child initials RB case ended. Later case entered into Middlesbrough Family Court childs name initials RBM a name of a child that has never existed, on all court orders for medical evidence to be entered into court from a small period of time he had been placed in the care of the medical professionals for investigation into suspected birth brain damage (covered up)
        Was it legal to change the childs birth registered name for these court proceedings first half, Split case, Childs name changed back on application second half different judge change not accepted false name stays to date split case joined

      • NOTINMYNAME you need to stop posting about your case if you are still to be held in contempt if you do?

      • Helen delights in supporting gagging orders ! State control of the family and suppression of free speech for both children and adults is halfway towards Communism and personally I don’t care for it !

      • Far from it, I am an advocate of transparency.

  10. Most of the 10 reforms I suggest already operate in France,Spain,and Italy which is why I advise pregnant mothers (who can be financially supported by partners or their families ) to leave the uk to save their babies from being snatched at birth for forced adoption !

  11. Helensparkles2015 I am an advocate of transparency???
    Do you also advocate the young mothers do not bring parents or family members to the courts stating the JUDGES are more kindly to mothers attending by themselves, the amount of times I attended (with my grandsons mother) and heard this was unbelievable, what judge would prefer a mother to go through such an ordeal without family support? OR was it what the social service workers preferred

    • Whether a family member is allowed into Court is nothing to do with Helen, or any social worker. A family member who is not a party to the proceedings will only be allowed to go into the Court hearing if the Judge agrees to it. When I’m asked by a Judge whether the Local Authority have a view, I’ve always said that if it provides the parent with some emotional support I’m happy for them to come in.

      It wouldn’t be wrong of a social worker to say to a family member that if they do come along to Court wanting to give support, that a Judge might not allow them to come into the hearing. (Especially if that family member is travelling a long way to get to the hearing, because it might end up being a wasted trip)

      I would have no problem, in accordance with Ian’s suggestion number 4 that there is a presumption that each parent can bring in one family member of their own choosing to attend Court. That family member can be told of the rules – that they are there to listen and comfort and not to shout or interrupt and that what happens inside the Court room is private, but let’s give people the benefit of the doubt that they can stick to the rules rather than assuming that they won’t.

      But it is not up to me, or Helen, the law would need to change to allow that to happen. I’d rather like it to change.

      • In practice of course the usher stops grandparents,,brothers and sisters, and partners (if not party to the case ) from entering the court so they never see the judge or know that they could ask anything ! There should be a presumption that any close relative( as above) or Partner should be allowed in and of course the law should be changed !

      • Never meant to imply it was up to me, I am not the judge!

    • In my practice I involve wider family members, as safety/support people where that is possible and on any other occasion where it isn’t destructive. You and I might disagree about that of course but there is nothing cloak and dagger about it. I usually discuss this with parents so that is transparent and explain why I think one person attending would be helpful another not for example. So whilst for a family meeting or conference etc I don’t have any problem with challenging, I do ensure there isn’t going to be outright conflict between the grown ups. In those cases I communicate with the parties separately because anything I am involved in is about the child and referring warring parties has no place in the room.

      In a court, who is able to attend has nothing to do with me, approaches are made by counsel to the judge. I wouldn’t be asked for my view. I do also think that parent advocacy services are thin on the ground and helpful in cases where family members aren’t able to attend. Transparency means that the process is fair and seen to be fair. The more that can be done to enable that the better. It would stop the conspiracy theories if people could see that closed isn’t secret.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        Unfortunately many families are kept away from the parents and child before it gets to court, the support is removed from cp meetings etc, conquer and divide is very much alive, by the time it’s a court stage, there’s no one else left in the mix

      • I agree. Frequently support networks are not allowed to have a reasonable (note the word reasonable) level of understanding of the LA concerns, how they can support, provide assistance and act in an advisory role. The conquer and divide principle is a recurring theme I find. Particularly divide and conquer parents. I have actually encountered situations where parents are willing to be completely amicable in the ‘best interests of the child/children’ and this is used as ‘negative evidence’. (I am particularly thinking of cases where there is no history of DV, substance abuse, emotional abuse, mental illness.)

      • I can’t comment on cases you have experienced but the only time I exclude families from legal meetings or conferences is because they will be obstructive and this is usually because people would be hostile to the “other” parent. It is in those cases I see everyone separately and keep them updated. It isn’t child focussed to have warring parties in a meeting which is child centred. I also hold family meetings and I have recently had a case where I can’t have extended family in the room, the hostility between parties is too great. Both parents completely understand this and agree, even though they think their side is right and they are the reasonable party. I’d really like everyone to work in the child’s best interests, and that is happening gradually, but via delicate negotiations rather than being together. To put them all together would be counter productive but it is far from divide and rule. Obviously all of those meetings involve confidential info about parents and concerns being shared, so people have got to agree to others being there, which is sometimes an issue in itself but I always think that parents should be supported. You wouldn’t go to a difficult hospital appointment on your own because you may not hear something important or process it, same is true of CP involvement.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        I was thrown out for knowing too much law, stated by the sw! Her manager then decided the mother was not allowed to speak to me nor was I to see my grandchild.

        No warring, all I gave was ultimate support and would not let them stomp all over her to get an adoption, as it worked out, I did not go away and the legal team advised them not to try to fight me in the pre plo, in front of me.
        They went away and never came back within a year.

  12. We Grandparents attended Leeds Court as witnesses, not allowed to mention that I Grandmother, on family doctors instructions drove parents and grandson to local hospital, witnessed mothers statement to the clerks, witnessed CT Scan and witnessed the specialist Mr Strachan inform parents my grandson had a condition frontal brain Atrophy (cerebral Atrophy) and transfer to close hospital for MRI Scan better Scan, I was not allowed to mention this and from the QC mouth, I will do the neglect case??????? The second half of split case the same QC would not represent the parents to put the truth of the matter to the judge, or the matter of the change of my grandsons name and that an order that I (Name) obtain all medical records pertaining to my grandsons entry/treatment from the hospital and enter a letter into court that the hospital had no medical records pertaining to a child in that name whilst they did have medical details in my grandsons birth certified and the court order did not instruct them to do anything, the hospital were in now way involved in the Family Court Proceedings, If we did my Grandson would disappear from this court and we would never see him again.
    We stayed silent, still lost him. never to hear from the QC again

    • QCs in the family courts are mostly unscrupulous villains determined to help social services win and so ingratiate themselves with the legal establishment so as to be eventually appointed as judges.

    • You post too much info again. I understand you are in court at the moment? It won’t be helpful to be held in contempt.

      • Mrs Sparkles you keep mentioning Contempt of Court, have you any idea of what being accused of child abuse means???? No longer employable, neighbours gossiping, having to sell up and move. awaiting court proceedings brought against you by your own grandson, changing family doctor, Having to wake up daily living with injustice, and searching for any information about the perpetrators of the injustice hoping what goes around comes around, the list is endless,

      • Actually you mentioned it originally. It was reminder because I thought you were still in court, if not let us know the outcome of the case.

    • Why should that grab me? Why is my name in inverted commas?

      • Well, I will not go into graphic details here but do some know what the impact of a false allegation of child abuse does? Then combine that with an LA making ‘clerical errors’ and sending the wrong files/letters to the wrong addresses…..One person ends up in police protection…..having been attacked by a mob of uneducated thugs and dragged into the street through a window that the mob smashed. Research Osman Letter of Protection. All caused by LA ‘errors’. Would you expect a parent to ever work ‘in co-operation’ with that LA again?

      • I am totally confused about your response to my question, they appear unrelated.

      • My reply was actually to this post:
        NOTINMYNAME | February 22, 2016 at 11:41 pm

        Mrs Sparkles you keep mentioning Contempt of Court, have you any idea of what being accused of child abuse means???? No longer employable, neighbours gossiping, having to sell up and move. awaiting court proceedings brought against you by your own grandson, changing family doctor, Having to wake up daily living with injustice, and searching for any information about the perpetrators of the injustice hoping what goes around comes around, the list is endless,

  13. And this is where your money goes……………………..

    Foster Care Associates
    Owned by: Jim Cockburn and Janet Rees through Ideapark Ltd
    Income from foster care in 2014**: £127.2m
    Payouts to owner in 2014: £7m
    Highest paid director salary and other benefits: £406,000

    National Fostering Agency (includes the Foster Care Agency)
    Owned by: Stirling Square Capital Partners (previously Graphite Capital until April 2015)
    Income from foster care in 2014*: £94.5m
    Payouts to owners in 2014: £14.4m to Graphite Capital
    Highest paid director’s salary and other benefits: £318,112
    .
    Acorn Care and Education (includes Fostering Solutions, Pathway Care Fostering and Heath Farm Fostering)

    Owned by: Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan
    Income from foster care in 2014*: £73.1m
    Payouts to owners: £13m accrued in 2014
    Highest paid director’s salary and other benefits: £266,420
    back.
    Partnerships in Children’s Services (includes Orange Grove, ISP, Fosterplus and Clifford House)

    Owned by: Sovereign Capital
    Income from foster care in 2014*: £29.8m
    Payouts to owners in 2014: £1.9m
    Highest paid director’s salary and other benefits: not shown in accounts
    we have not heard back.
    Swiis Foster Care
    Owned by: Dev Dadral and family
    Income from foster care in 2014: £29.4m
    Payouts to owners in 2014: £1.5m (from the wider Swiis group, see below)
    Highest paid director’s salary and other benefits: £169,000
    Capstone Foster Care
    Owned by: Different individuals and companies (see below)
    Income from foster care in 2015: £21.1m
    Payouts to owners in 2015: £406,000
    Highest paid director’s salary and other benefits: £185,000

    Compass Fostering (includes The Fostering Partnership, Eden Foster Care and Seafields Fostering)
    Owned by: August Equity
    Income from foster care in 2015: £25.9m
    Payouts to owners in 2015: £3.1m accrued
    Highest paid director’s salary and other benefits: £131,000
    tech
    Owners: shares are publicly-listed – Farouq and Haroon Sheikh biggest shareholders with 20%
    Income from foster care in 2014: £12m
    Payouts to owners in 2014: £240,000 in 2014
    Highest paid director’s salary and other benefits: £324,000

    • Well done, And. this amount for Foster Care alone is only the tip of the Iceberg, of full costs involved??????????

      • Thank you “notinmyname !” but you can add in various privately owned “special schools” that charge around £4000/week (about 3 times what it cost the Queen to send Prince Harry to Eton!) YES snouts in the trough for some………………..

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