The Families That Suffer For Secrecy
The blanket secrecy that surrounds family courts is an invitation to bad practice.
Social workers have immense powers and terrible responsibilities. If they make a wrong decision, the consequences can be catastrophic. A failure to intervene when a child is being violently abused by its parents can lead to the death of that child, as was shown so tragically in the Baby P case. But a decision to take children away from parents who are, in fact, loving can have almost equally awful consequences.
The Baby P case focused attention on the importance of taking children from abusive parents. But as we report today, children can also be taken from loving families for no good reason at all. The details of the case seem almost too ludicrous to be true, and perhaps they are not what they seem – for how could three children ever be removed in such circumstances?
Unfortunately, ludicrous cases are far more common than anyone would like to believe. Mr Justice McFarlane recently expressed his astonishment during an appeal at the way a child was forcibly taken from her mother. She took her daughter to see a doctor, who could find nothing wrong, but alerted social workers. They placed the child in care – and it was 14 months before the mother got her daughter back. The judge found that social workers’ presentation of the evidence was “totally erroneous”, yet it had been endorsed by the family courts. In another case of forcible adoption, the Court of Appeal described the conduct of the local authority as “disgraceful”, and of the social workers in the case as “shocking”.
Although journalists are now allowed into family court hearings, all the documents are secret, and it remains an offence for an outsider to read them. That blanket secrecy is an invitation to bad practice. Until there is open justice in the family courts, there will continue to be terrible abuses in them.
When child abuse investigationsare conducted by people whose main goal is to dig up dirt on a family to assassinate theircharacter and desire for every family to be in “therapy,” you end up with a mess – this mess we have right now of incompetence and corruption.
Source: Education for Social Workers