You do have parental rights and all judges, social workers are governed by law and do not let anyone hoodwink you into thinking otherwise.
If you are dealing with social services at present and would like some advice on where to begin, you should consider a few options.
Many people will try to hire a family lawyer sadly there are some lawyers who represent both local authorities and parents, depending on where the next client is coming will depend on which direction the lawyer will follow, the bigger the purse strings the better results. The children and parents DO come last depending on the local authority and where you reside. A post code lottery.
If this was any other civil court matter a lawyer will tell you there and then, that there will be clear conflict of interest, if they were to represent you. Be organized have your documentation prepared and if you receive tax credits, self employed or both take all the relevant financial documentation a good administer will advise you accordingly.
Some people will look for the help of a “McKenzie Friend” which is a term used to describe experts in the field of family law, but not qualified lawyers. Then there are some who choose to represent themselves in a family court. Seeking legally advise when warranted from an excellent solicitor this can be funded publicly, but make sure you have all judgments and orders at your meeting with your lawyer. If you are told that they cannot look at, because the documentation relates to child care proceedings they are being fictitious. Final tip please read and read have faith and focus.
Getting your files
The first thing you need to do, if Social Services in the UK have targeted your children is to get a hold of your files, which you are entitled to by law under the Data Protection Act. You are entitled to view them for free any time, but you need to ask for copies of them. The local authority by law, is allowed to charge you up to £10 to provide your files but do not have to charge you this fee if they don’t want to.
You must write a letter to the local authority and include the following in the letter, that you wish to get a hold of….
- Copies of all records, handwritten and computerised
- Copies of all e-mails, faxes, letters, internal and external communications etc
- Copies of all telephone messages
- Copies of all internal memo’s
- Copies of all contact logs from any contact centers that you or your family have attended
- Copies of all “Running Sheets”. This is the day to day log of what is happening in your case – (like a diary). You can tell if any are missing as they are numbered. You MUST ensure you get copies of these. Check them against the reports that Social Services have given into court. Supreme Court Weighs Parental Rights Abuses by Social Workers, Police.
Make sure you put in your letter “I am requesting this information under the Data Protection Act 1998″. They have 40 days in which to reply. If not, re-send a letter saying if they don’t reply within 7 days you will report them to the Information Commissioner (Contact details below), as they are in breach of the law.
The Information Commissioner will ensure they give you the files, and comply with the law. You are entitled to have copies of everything for £10.00. Sometimes they say you can only view them with a social worker present, but they know that this is against the law, and it is your right under the Data Protection Act to have actual copies. You must state this to them, if they try it on. Lastly, if there is information from third parties in the file, they can still give it to you but must write first and obtain permission from the person involved, i.e.. Health visitor, doctor, etc.
YOUR RIGHT TO ACCESS YOUR SOCIAL SERVICE RECORDS
This section covers your rights under the 1998 Data Protection Act, which covers information from private and public bodies, and the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which covers public bodies only. It is always worth asking for information under both Acts, although the 1998 Data Protection Act covers everything.
THE DATA PROTECTION ACT 1998
The 1998 Data Protection Act gives all individuals general right of access to the personal data which relates to them. These rights are known as “subject access rights”. Requests for access to information about those records are known as “subject access requests”. Personal data may be computerised or paper records.
The Act gives a right of access to social work records which are held by any of the following:-
A local social services authority (England and Wales)
A social work authority (Scotland)
A Health and Social Services Board or trust (Northern Ireland)
A request for information can be made by the person to whom the data relates, irrespective of age, or by someone who is legally acting on their behalf, e.g. a parent because the child is too young. Requests must be made in writing to the local authority social services department, and they have up to 40 days in which to respond. (It is worth sending your request letter by recorded/special delivery otherwise social services may say they have not received it).
You are entitled to be given a description of the data, be told why it is held, who it has been given to, any information about the source of the data, and to be given an explanation as to how any automated decision taken about you has been made.
You are entitled to have copies of the information for a fee of £10.00. Not just to view it. The British Journal of SOCIAL WORK