Social Services

Recent Reports in the national media (Panorama 13.01.2014 View Episode and Daily Mail 03.12.2013 ) and our local press (Thurrock Gazette 09.01.2014 See Article) highlight that blameless parents are at risk of having their children removed and placed under Care Orders.  The risk being from over zealous Social Workers who will place misleading evidence before the Courts in support of Care Orders being made – with the aim of cutting Social Services Department budgets and also ensuring a ready supply of children for Adoption.

Whenever parents attract the interest of Social Workers, the best advice is for them to immediately consult a suitably experienced Solicitor, to fight their corner in dealing with the Social Services Department involved.  Suitable experience is shown by a Solicitor who is a long served Member of the Children Panel.  The writer hereof, our Mr R D Bradbury, has been such a Member for the best part of the last 20 years.  Parents should be careful to ensure that they are instructing a Member of the Children Panel and that the Solicitor concerned is not merely a “green” recent convert to the Panel, who may have recently moved into Care work due to a lack of Legal Aid funding for Divorce and Criminal Cases!  Our Mr R D Bradbury will always fight Local Authorities tooth and nail!

Care Proceedings are mainly pursued by Local Authorities and they tend to be rather complex Cases, involving Expert Witnesses giving evidence before the highly secretive Family Proceedings Court, which is not open to the press.  Without proper legal representation in this environment parents will invariably fail to successfully put their version of events to the Court. On the other hand Local Authorities are able to afford the finest legal representation.  Care Cases are also mandated to be finished within 26 weeks from commencement and so parents are under significant pressure from the outset to show they both understand the Local Authorities concerns and, if necessary, successfully undertake any therapeutic work.  To be frank, without appropriate expert legal representation from the outset, such parents are in danger of permanently losing their children to Adoption.

Another unfortunate aspect of the present draconian system is that often Care Cases are decided by lay Magistrates in the Family Proceedings Court and they tend to rarely disbelieve anything that Social Workers have to say.  Parents in their dealings with Social Workers have less protection than is afforded to Defendants in Criminal Cases.  Interviews by Social Workers are never tape recorded and this often leads to allegations by parents that they are being misrepresented in what they say.  Furthermore, allegations made against parents (such as Non Accidental Injury, Domestic Violence or even Emotional Neglect) are provable on a lower standard of proof called “the balance of probabilities” (not beyond a reasonable doubt, as is required in a Criminal Case for a Guilty verdict).  Another problem with the present system is that Independent Experts Reports from, say, those assessing parenting skills or Psychologists, are only commissioned if they are deemed “necessary”. Social Workers and, to some extent the Courts, dislike such Independent Reports as they may cause delay and Social Workers always prefer to “assess” parents themselves rather than permit truly independent scrutiny.  Naturally any Reports prepared by Social Workers always tend to favour the view that they or their colleagues have already formed.

Under the present Care System the tables are now stacked heavily against parents in their dealings with Social Workers. The Legal System itself is more often than not, one that regards the views of parents as inconvenient obstacles to be overcome, in a rush to place children for Adoption.

If you are in dispute with a Local Authority Social Services Department over your children do not delay, contact our Mr R D Bradbury.