RSS Feed

Tag Archives: expert assessments

Local Authority, go and sit in the naughty corner


We don’t seem to go more than about a week without some Local Authority or other getting a judicial spanking, and here’s another.


[I probably need to create a new Category on the website of  ‘judicial spanking’. No sooner said than done. If you did type ‘judicial spanking’ into Google and have arrived here, then I apologise, and I hope that you weren’t doing it on HMCS computers… ]


TM and TJ (children : Care Orders) 2015


Fundamentally, these complaints are about the Local Authority turning up to the Issues Resolution hearing, without its final evidence being in order, so that nobody really knew what their plan was and certainly hadn’t been able to respond to it.  It also touches on an issue dear to my heart, where LA “A” who are running the case, decide at the last minute that LA “B” should have a Supervision Order for these children and expect that authority to agree to this without knowing any of the background.



    1. On 12th March 2015 the Bristol Magistrates ordered that the case should be made ready for a preliminary which is called an ‘Issues Resolution Hearing’ (‘an IRH’). The intention of that kind of hearing is to identify the issues that remain between the parties and see whether they are capable of being resolved without the need for a full final hearing. It is not just a ‘directions hearing’ because Practice Direction 12A of The Family Procedure Rules 2010 (which is well known to family lawyers) provides that, at the IRH:
    • The court identifies the key issues (if any) to be determined and the extent to which those issues can be resolved or narrowed at the IRH;
    • The court considers whether the IRH can be used as a final hearing.
    • The court resolves or narrows the issues by hearing evidence.
  • The court identifies the evidence to be heard on the issues which remain to be resolved at the final hearing.
  • The court gives final case management directions.
  1. If, by the time of the IRH, the Local Authority has not filed adequate evidence, it means that the whole purpose of the IRH is negated. Thus the magistrates ordered that, by the time of the IRH, the Local Authority should have filed its final evidence including its assessment of the parents. The Local Authority had been ordered to file its final evidence (including all assessments) by 15th June 2015, the parents had been ordered to file position statements by 22nd June 2015 and the guardian had been ordered to file a position statement by 23rd June 2015. There was to be a meeting of advocates on the 16th June but that had to be abandoned because the Local Authority’s final evidence had not been filed. The court was notified that there were delays. Some final evidence was filed by the Local Authority by 22nd June 2015 although the mother’s solicitor did not receive any of the final evidence until the morning of 25th June 2015.
  2. On 25th June 2015 this case was referred to me by the Magistrates. The parties and their legal teams had all been at court since 1 p.m. that day. I knew nothing of the case before it came in front of me late that afternoon. There were the following reasons for that referral: i) All parties accepted that the Local Authority had not filed adequate final evidence. The Local Authority itself presented its case on the basis that the assessments that it had conducted were inadequate and could not be relied upon.ii) The care plan proposed that the children should go to live with the father in the east of England under a supervision order to a Local Authority in that part of the country. There was no input from that other Local Authority and there was no indication of how that authority might support the father if the children did go there. That authority was first notified of the suggestion that there should be supervision orders in its favour (and also of the hearing on 25th June 2015) on 19th June 2015. Before the email that was sent on the 19th June, that authority had no knowledge of the case at all. It is not surprising therefore that that authority did not consider that it could participate in the hearing on 25th June; it has never seen the papers in this case.iii) There was no adequate evidence of the arrangements that the father would make if he were to care for the children there. In particular, the father’s plan, if he does move to the east of the country, is to be assisted by his aunt in the care of the children. There is no evidence from her; there is no more than a ‘viability assessment of the aunt’ that was filed on 17th April 2015. Although the agency social worker who dealt with the case before leaving is thought to have spoken to the aunt before the care plans were filed, there is no record of any such discussion.iv) There had been no adequate assessment of the mother. She opposes the suggestion that the children should live with the father and wishes to care for them herself. There was an assessment of the mother that was carried out in November 2014 but this was not a parenting assessment and was carried out when the children were already in foster care. There had been a previous assessment of her in January 2014; this was a parenting assessment and was completed at a time when the children were still with her; however, that assessment was underway at the time of the birth of the second child and expressly was not an assessment of the mother’s ability to care for two children. There simply was no parenting assessment of the mother within the proceedings and there was no assessment of her ability, as a parent, to care for two children. That is despite these proceedings having been running now for very nearly six months, with the children in foster care.v) Because the Local Authority had not put forward any adequate evidence or proposals it meant that the parents did not know what case they had to meet. Even now I do not have any idea what the Local Authority recommends for these The root cause of the problem lay in the fact that the previous social worker, who was an agency worker who had been employed in January 2015, had been charged with the responsibility of writing assessments of the parents, had said that she had done so and then left her temporary employment with the Local Authority without fulfilling that responsibility properly, I am told by the Local Authority. The new social worker had only been involved in the case for three weeks prior to the IRH on 25th June and, quite understandably, did not have the knowledge upon which to write fresh assessments.

    vii) Given the omissions in the Local Authority assessments I was told that it would take 14 weeks for the current social worker to complete assessments, given her case load and summer leave. The alternative, I was told, was that an independent social worker could be instructed to report by the 14th August. The result now is that the Local Authority will have to pay from public money for an independent social worker to be employed to do the job that a social worker, employed by the authority, should have done.

    viii) Given the shortage of time, the final hearing therefore could not be sustained at the beginning of July and another date would have to be found.

    ix) The work of the guardian was materially impaired. How could she advance recommendations when she did not know what the Local Authority proposed.



The case had to be adjourned, and an independent expert had to be appointed to conduct the parenting assessments that the Local Authority hadn’t managed to do, and the LA had to pay for that.

The Judge, obviously being very critical of these failings, said this towards the end of the judgment:-

  1. I understand the difficulties that the Local Authority faces and criticisms from the bench do little to repair the problems. Indeed criticism can simply add to the recruitment difficulties that Local Authorities face. From the time of my first speech as Designated Family Judge in this area I have stressed that there are four alliterative concepts that I wish to drive forward – i) a collaborative approach amongst the many professions and institutions involved in the family justice system; ii) Proper communication between those involved in that system; iii) a recognition of the need for changes in practice and iv) a commitment to the people who really matter – the children, family members and professionals who are obliged to turn to the family court system when there are family and personal difficulties that cannot be resolved consensually.
  2. But I would like to make these points:i) If a case is going off track it is imperative that the issue is brought to the attention of the court as soon as this occurs. It may then be possible to retrieve the position. Once the problem has occurred, as it has here, it is too late.ii) Cases do not involve just one professional. They involve a large array of people and it must be a collective responsibility on all to bring a case to the attention of the court once it is going off track in this way.iii) Where one party to a multi party case fails it brings down the others and also affects the efficient running of the court.iv) If a social worker is not performing as she should there are management and legal teams within a Local Authority that should pick up on what is happening.
  3. In this court area there has been a recent and considerable increase in the number of cases that are not meeting the 26 week statutory deadline. Of 181 public law cases there are 49 cases that are now ‘off track’. That means about 27% of our cases are exceeding the 26 week deadline. This has got to stop. Many people have worked extremely hard to improve upon the performance of this area and we are not prepared to see that slide away from us now. This type of poor case performance is unnecessary and is damaging to the system as a whole.
  4. There are reasons why some cases may need to exceed the 26 week deadline. For instance there are cases involving complex issues of fact (e.g. where there is an allegation of a serious offence having been committed), cases which involve large and complex family dynamics and cases involving complex medical issues. This is not such a case. There are far too many cases like this one where the issues are straightforward and where delay is manifestly harmful to the children concerned. The only reason why this case has been so delayed is inefficiency.
  5. If three days of court time are lost in this way it may well not be possible to fill those days with other work where this sort of thing happens so close to a final hearing. Not only are adjournments plainly contrary to the welfare of young children, they also cost a lot of public money and mean that very valuable court time is being lost. There is now immense pressure for every hour of court time to be used to its very fullest advantage and if one case is neglectfully prepared, as this one has been, it means that other cases and, other children and other parties suffer. It also means that public money is being used to fund the inefficiency of those people who do not engage in the system properly. It is perhaps commonplace but, nevertheless I do observe that the Local Authority that contends that the mother has not ‘co-operated with professionals’ has, itself shown a distinct and at least commensurate lack of co-operation with the court.
  6. I am therefore adjourning this case to an IRH before me in September and will list a final hearing, again before me, as soon as possible afterwards. I will also try to call the case in for review once the report of the independent social worker has been obtained. I will release this judgment on BAILII. I know that it will be picked up at least by the local press and I consider that people in South Gloucestershire need to know how their Local Authority is functioning.


I think that there’s a lot of powerful and impressive stuff in this judgment. The ‘four C’s’ approach of Collaborative, Communication, Change and Committment is a damn fine philosophy.

I had a long quibble about whether the passages in the judgment that say that there are ‘far too many’ expert assessments in Bristol Courts and that the Courts must ‘crack down on them’ were somewhat blurring the lines between the statutory requirements and judicial impartiality on applying the requirements to the facts in an individual case, and Judges in their role of being spanked for their poor performance on statistics.  But I think on re-reading that HH Judge Wildblood QC does (just ) enough to put this marker on the right side. (just)


So, instead,this (unconnected to HH J Wildblood QC who uses plain English where possible):-


Bearing in mind that coming across an impenetrable allusion in judgments is an occupational hazard  (“I thought I had seen a white leopard”  “As in the famous quotation by Lord Wellington  [quotation not supplied]”  “contumelious” and so forth),   I think that we do rather better than America.  As you may have heard, in the gay marriage case in the US Supreme Court, the words ‘apple-sauce’ ‘arrgle-bargle’ and ‘jiggery-pokery’ were used, but this Judge goes even further



  • Defenestration. Don’t walk past an open window if Selya is inside writing an opinion: He is liable to defenestrate anything and everything. Items thrown out the window in Selya opinions include speedy trial claims, punitive damages awards, arbitral awards, claims of co-fiduciary liability and laws that unduly favor in-state interests. The latter, Selya has noted, “routinely will be defenestrated under the dormant commerce clause.” 
  • Philotheoparoptesism. Philotheoparoptesism refers to the practice of disposing of heretics by burning them or boiling them in oil. Another judge challenged Selya to include this word in a decision, which resulted in its sole reported usage (in secular courts, at least). For the record, Selya declined to consign a misguided prosecutor “to the juridical equivalent of philotheoparoptesism.”
  • Repastinate. To repastinate means to plow the same ground a second time. When considering appeals that raise previously decided issues, Selya and his colleagues have come down firmly and repeatedly on the side of “no repastination.”
  • Sockdolager. A sockdolager is a final, decisive blow. Selya’s published opinions deliver almost 60 sockdolagers, which is more “sock” than one finds in the decisions of the rest of the federal judiciary.
  • Thaumaturgical. The 1st Circuit takes a dim view of magical arguments, or what in one opinion Selya called “thaumaturgical feat[s] of rhetorical prestidigitation.”



Defenestration I knew, due to the ‘Defenestration of Prague’ and thaumaturgical I knew, because I love magic. The others, not a scooby.

Of these words, I found that only one of them appeared in Bailii law reports – three times in all.


In R v Johnson 2009, I think the Court of Appeal use it wrongly, when they describe a burglar leaving a building .As a matter of inference, he left the premises by means of defenestration .

I think that defenestration involves throwing something out of, or being thrown out of. I don’t think jumping or climbing out counts.

The second one Downing v NK Coating Limited 2010 fails for the same reason, but it does bizarrely involve the Court having to think about a lab assistant who left his office by climbing out of a window, thus leaving a urine sample unattended and potentially able to be tampered with.

And Ormerod and Gunn  is more of an essay (an interesting one) and once again, is referring to cases of people jumping out of windows, albeit to escape a threat of assault. It also talks about our old friend, Wilkinson v Downton 1887


So I haven’t found the term being used in its proper sense. The challenge is on.


It appears that the English Courts are fonder of throwing things out of windows then they are in magic, ploughing, boiling people in oil [glossing over the Middle Ages law reports], or whatever the heck sockdologing is…



[Ha! In an unwitting irony, it turns out that one meaning of sockdologer is to determine something in a decisive and final manner. Which is clearly something that the English Courts aren’t interested in doing.  I honestly didn’t know that when I wrote the previous sentence. ]

Oh Ofsted, you’re such a, you’re such a hot temptation…


(A summary of the Right on Time Ofsted report into delays in adoptions)





Ofsted have prepared a report about the adoption process, which is an interesting read, particularly in conjunction with the Government’s own independent look at this, and the groundswell of political and media opinion that something has to be done.


I would not describe myself as an uncritical admirer of Ofsted, but this does actually read like a good solid piece of work, and they have examined the process and inspected those well-known saws about adoption panels causing delay, politically correct social workers delaying things to look for ethnic matches, and considered whether there is in reality any truth to it.


The report is available here



They visited nine Local Authorities, with a good geographical spread. I have the advantage of having worked at one of those authorities, which is always nice to see.


The report outlines some helpful local initiatives – I particularly liked Norfolk’s “Family Law Summit”  and a few of the authorities had appointed professionals to perform a liaison job between the social work and family finding tasks and the Court process  (what you might call the “Claude Makele role of social work”  – okay, you might not, but I just did)



Adoption Panels



I think often Adoption Panels are an unwitting scapegoat in delays, with under pressure and beleaguered social workers, questioned about why their final evidence is late find themselves throwing out the “I couldn’t get a Panel date” excuse, which is too often accepted uncritically.  (And when did you first ASK for a Panel date, and when were you told you couldn’t get one, being the supplementary questions that never get asked)


And so we have a culture nationally that the judiciary and family lawyers generally think that Adoption Panels are nothing but a blight on the process, delaying matters whilst they drink tea and eat warm curled-up potted meat sandwiches in an airless room.


Ofsted haven’t actually bought into that myth….  (bolding here is mine)


71. Inspectors found no evidence of adoption panels contributing to delay, either in their responses to cases or in their capacity to meet the fluctuating but generally increasing number of cases presented to the panel.

72. All adoption panels made efforts to meet these demands by convening additional meetings when necessary. One panel had held four extraordinary meetings in the last 12 months to ensure that recommendations were made on time. Another had increased the number of regular panel meetings; yet another had already met three times in the month that inspectors visited. Elsewhere, a panel had used the opportunity to hear a case during their recent panel training day. Three additional panel dates were arranged as a contingency by one local authority, although they had not been required.

73. Effective arrangements were made to ensure that panels were quorate. One agency had recruited additional panel members to increase flexibility. Another had two panels but members could sit on either panel as required. Vice chairs stood in for panel chairs as necessary.

74. Inspectors saw several examples of the flexibility of panels in reducing delay in cases they were tracking. In two cases, the approval of adopters and the matching of those adopters with children were recommended on the same day. This was done to ensure that introductions and placement could commence more promptly. In one of the cases, this avoided the further delay of having to wait for the placement to commence until after the sensitive period of Christmas.

75. In one local authority, the variable quality of reports and the perceived lack of management oversight of these reports prior to panel meetings were identified as significant problems which caused delays in the progression of some cases. Nearly all panel chairs, however, reported that the quality of paperwork was uniformly high.

76. The Family Justice Review made a recommendation, accepted by the government that the requirement that local authority adoption panels must consider the suitability of an adoption plan for a child should be removed. There were mixed views about this. Some, mainly court or Cafcass representatives, felt that as adoption was a legal process, this was an unnecessary duplication of the court’s task. Panel chairs in particular felt that the panel discussions brought a range of perspectives and areas of expertise that added rigour to the decision-making process. Inspectors did not, however, find that the panel’s scrutiny of the case added delay for children. There was no evidence in the tracked cases that panel decision-making about the suitability of adoption delayed final hearings.


Politically correct yoghurt-knitting social workers insisting on ethnic matches


Ofsted did not consider that this crude stereotype, much beloved of the popular press was accurate.   (I recall vividly having had to search through Hansard on the debates on the Adoption and Children Bill, to see if they had addressed a particularly quirky lacunae, and the debate was 98% about same-sex adopters and unmarried adopters, and 2% sheer drivel, much of that drivel being hackneyed clichéd garbage about whether all social workers wear corduroy trousers. It was incredibly demoralising to see that MPs charged with delivering a legal framework for some of the most vulnerable in our society were so utterly out of touch with the real world)


11. Careful consideration was seen to be given to how the ethnic and cultural needs of children could be met. As in the wish to keep siblings together, the objective of seeking to meet these needs had to be balanced against other demands, such as the need to avoid delay. There was no evidence that local authorities were only looking for the ‘perfect’ or exact ethnic match, reflecting stated policies regarding adopter recruitment and permanence.

12. While local authorities paid due attention to ethnic or cultural needs, decisions to look for a ‘best fit’ were generally made promptly. In nearly all the cases seen by inspectors, ethnic and cultural issues did not cause delays. There were several examples where minority ethnic children had been placed with adopters from a similar background, with no delay. In those cases where it proved hard to find suitable adopters who could meet children’s needs in those areas, but were not necessarily from the same background, delays typically ranged between one and six months.





Court proceedings and assessments


The finger does get well and truly pointed at the plethora of assessments and the often sequential nature of such assessments, being the main factor in delay, however.


[I am reminded here of my all-time hero, Gilbert Keith Chesterton, who stung by a series of letters to The Times about what varying things were making our great country go to the dogs, wrote his own pithy letter. Dear Sirs, I know exactly what is wrong with this country. It is me. Yours faithfully, G K Chesterton]

26. The most significant cause of delay in tracked cases was the length of time taken for care proceedings to be concluded before an adoption plan could be confirmed. The average duration of completed care proceedings in tracked cases was slightly under 14 months. The individual local authority area average for these cases ranged from 11 months to 20 months.

29. Additional and repeat assessments during care proceedings, generally occurring sequentially, were found by inspectors to contribute to the delay in achieving permanence for children in 20 (38%) of the cases tracked. This figure does not include those cases where the ability of parents and extended family members to care for children was quite properly assessed as part of proceedings in a timely manner. The 20 cases were cases where repeat or late assessments had a measurable and adverse impact on the timely granting of a placement order. Delay for these children was measured in months, or in some cases, years.


Now, one has to be careful here, because the Inspectors were looking back at cases which ultimately had unsuccessful outcomes (in that the child/children were adopted, rather than could be placed within the family), so there is a danger in drawing inferences about cases generally; since obviously all cases that end in adoption did not have assessments which made the positive difference and ended up with rehabilitation.


I happen to think that it is probably right that in 75% of cases, those second opinion assessments, when you’ve already done one thorough assessment, tell you nothing at all and make no difference.  The trick is, in determining whether the instant case before you is one of the 75% or the 25%.


32. There was a common perception that the courts’ anxieties about upholding the Human Rights Act[1] often overrode the ‘no delay’ principle of the Children Act 1989. There was a general consensus that the court process was adult-centred. One social worker said that children get ‘sucked into court’, without sufficient consideration of the impact on the children’s emotional well-being.

33. In eight cases, the commissioning of independent social work assessments essentially duplicated the task of the allocated local authority social worker and prolonged care proceedings. These assessments generally arose due to a disagreement about the proposed plan between the guardian for the child and the local authority or as a result of effective advocacy on behalf of the parents. In a number of the cases examined, repeat assessments, often ordered late in the process, ended up confirming the outcome of the original assessments but added months to the delay before the child’s future could be determined. In one case, a potential adoptive match was lost, leading to further delay.


It is hard to say if this is right; it certainly appears that there’s a correlation between the duration of care proceedings going up  and the introduction of the Human Rights Act  (and I noted from a recent analysis that prior to introducing a 40 week time limit, the average duration of proceedings was below that, and after the 40 week limit the average just went up and up and up  – why? Because once you set a time limit, it is assumed that the run of the mill case will take that limit, and then you add all of the longer ones on top, skewing the average, whereas before there was a time limit, the shorter cases would end earlier)


But correlation is not causation.  It could well be that the decisions of the Court of Appeal, quashing Judge’s decisions when they had tried to resist independent assessments had more to do with the proliferation of second opinion expert reports than the HRA  – or it could of course be that it was thinking about the HRA that led to those assessments.

I would suggest that in a considerable number of cases, assessments are commissioned not because there is the gap in the evidence envisaged by the Court of Appeal in TL v (1) LONDON BOROUGH OF HAMMERSMITH AND FULHAM (2) ED (3) S (BY A CHILDREN’S GUARDIAN (2011) [2011] EWCA Civ 812  but through fear that if you get to final hearing without a psychological, or an independent social work assessment, or a culturally appropriate expert, that the whole of the final hearing will be spent bemoaning that fact and trying to persuade a Court that it would be unfair to make final decisions without one; so acqueisance to the instruction of an expert is often with a view to it being worse to reach a final hearing in four months time and then have the Court decide to adjourn for a further four-five months to get a psychological assessment rather than get one now, and have the final hearing in six months time.


That’s not going to change until the Courts who determine that a further assessment isn’t needed and apply the principles in TL V London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham get the backing for that decision by the Court of Appeal.  It may come on its own, it may require the FJR to be put into statute, it may still not come, but one can’t be surprised that professionals and the Court play cautiously when there’s such a risk of being overturned when robust case management decisions are implemented.


This also feeds into the next issue that Ofsted considered, which was the relative weight that social workers evidence gets, compared to that of other professionals.

37. In nearly all local authorities, social workers reported that they lacked credibility and status in the court arena. They believed that the lack of confidence in the quality of local social work assessment resulted in a reliance on independent ‘expert’ assessments, and therefore an increase in the duration of care proceedings. Several representatives from Cafcass and the courts, including senior judges, shared this view.

38. Social workers in several local authority areas were frustrated by a sense that they were not perceived as ‘experts’ in their own right and they felt that independent assessments were not often of superior quality to their own. Managers and social workers in some of these local authorities felt that the implied criticism was unfair, and based on an historical reputation that was no longer warranted.

39. In some areas, Cafcass and the court representatives accepted that the general view of social workers may in part be based on an out-of-date stereotype, but nearly all stressed that the uneven quality of local authority social work assessment remained a problem and was the main factor in the high number of repeat and independent assessments.

40. Senior managers in four local authorities openly expressed their concern that too many social workers responsible for cases in care proceedings did not yet have the necessary expertise and experience to undertake the work well. In particular, they believed that some social workers struggled to consider permanence issues adequately among all the immediate demands of court work including undertaking family assessments, managing contact arrangements and carrying out the myriad responsibilities associated with looked after children.

It is a particular bugbear of mine that Courts continue to give Guardian’s evidence the same weight as they did in the early days of the Children Act 1989, when Guardians really were the independent eyes and ears and a check and balance that the Act envisaged, rather than the Diet-Diet-Diet Guardian we currently have, as a result of CAFCASS trying to manage the service within budget by diluting the service. The next dilution of the service will result, I think, in homeopathic Guardians, where they are so dilute that there is no longer any actual connection with the child in question at all. No doubt they will still have a placebo effect…  Ofsted acknowledge that this gap between a social worker’s opinion and that of the Guardian exists.




43. There was a general perception within local authorities that children’s guardians were likely to be more experienced than the local authority social workers and that their views, as a result, carried more weight. Several Cafcass and court representatives acknowledged that this perception may, however generalised or mistaken, have sometimes affected courts’ decision-making.

44. In one case, the local authority had a firm plan for adoption but at a directions hearing as part of the ongoing care proceedings, it was agreed that the plan should be changed to reunification with the child’s mother. Both the social worker and the senior manager reflected that the local authority had been ‘railroaded’ into this change of plan; in their view the social worker’s low status in court compared with that of the guardian, who supported the change in plan, was a key contributing factor. The social worker did not feel equipped to challenge the court’s position and the local authority acknowledged that its own legal advice was insufficiently robust. The plan for a return home was not successfully implemented and there was now likely to be a delay of over a year for the child to be adopted.







Local Authority legal representation


It would be wrong of me, as a local authority lawyer, to gloss over the complaints and issues identified in the Ofsted report about people like me across the country.

45. Views varied on the quality of local authority legal advice. Social workers and managers did not always feel that legal representatives robustly challenged parents’ solicitors or guardians. One authority had recently altered its commissioning arrangements for obtaining legal advice, and each consultation now incurred a fee. This was designed to discourage a previous over-reliance on legal advice, but there was a general consensus that access to legal advice was now actively discouraged by managers and, consequently, was sometimes delayed.


Working relationships between Local Authorities, CAFCASS and the Courts


50. Inspectors found that the relationship between the main participants in the court process was often marked by mistrust – ‘There is an inherent tension here between social workers and guardians,’ said one senior Cafcass manager – and it appeared at times to be adversarial, with each often blaming the other for faults in the system. This tension, however, was less evident in areas where more regular meetings between key agencies were held to address shared concerns and had promoted the development of more constructive and mutually understanding relationships.

51. In all local authority areas, inspectors heard that key court stakeholders met on a regular basis, but often those meetings concentrated on business issues of the court and were acknowledged to lack focus on outcomes for children. Other examples of joint working included regional away days, training, and development work as part of a local performance improvement group. Too often, however, these meetings were erratically attended or had ceased to be convened and most of the professionals spoken to by inspectors felt that they had not had a measurable impact. There was often a lack of consistency in reports about joint activity across local areas, reflecting a low awareness among professionals of how the different partners worked together.



These are much the same concerns as highlighted in the Family Justice Review, that there is mutual suspicion, distrust and blame, between the different organisations who are trying to deliver family justice. This clearly is a problem, and the bit I have put in bold above is something telling, but the first time that I’ve seen someone brave enough to put it into writing.


Maybe Norfolk’s idea of (peace) Summits is a good one.  I for one look forward to being involved in such talks, and perhaps we should introduce the UN Model of simultaneous translation too, since Local Authorities, Cafcass and the Courts all seem to be speaking slightly different languages.