The Child Protection System in England
Written evidence submitted by Ian Joseph
1:-The UK is the ONLY country in Europe (apart from Croatia and perhaps Portugal) to tolerate the practice of forced adoption.The severing of all contact FOR LIFE between children and their birth parents .In effect a LIFE sentence without the opportunity of being heard by a jury, often imposed on parents who have committed no crime but who are said to be a risk to their children following predictions by "experts" working closely with the local authority.
Yes the UK family courts then mete out "PUNISHMENT WITHOUT CRIME" The ONLY people in the UK who are punished without crime are parents whose children have been "confiscated" by the hundreds, because those children are said to be "at risk" of emotional abuse!. The Family Courts presume parents are guilty of abusing or neglecting their children unless they can prove their innocence (which rarely happens !).
2:- Even worse the UK is the
country in the world to GAG parents who wish to protest publicly when their children are taken.
The right of all citizens to protest publicly against what they perceive to be oppression by the State is what separates democracy from tyranny.
Long may it remain so !
3:-Are there really parents who are punished by the State when they have committed no crimes?? YES !!The ONLY people in the UK who suffer this injustice are parents whose children are taken away after so called "experts" make predictions of the future such as "risk of emotional abuse".Most mothers would receive better and fairer treatment from the court if they killed their children (and benefited from the protection of criminal procedure) rather than tangle with the cold ferocity that demolishes 99.75%(judicial statistics) of the unfortunate parents who appear before the stern "establishment" judges sitting in our UK family courts.In other European countries such as France,Spain,and Italy,where "the family" is almost "sacred" they just cannot believe the behaviour of social workers in the UK when they take newborn babies from their mothers for "risk of emotional abuse",a concept completely unknown on the continent .Indeed the whole idea of "emotional abuse" is met with incredulity!
4:-The three essential reforms we need are:-
A:- Freedom of SPEECH for parents at all times.
B:- Final hearings to be heard by JURIES
C:-An end to the Punishment of parents who have not committed any CRIME.
PUNISHMENT WITHOUT CRIME !!!
The nightmare begins when social workers act like a second police force PUNISHING PARENTS who have NOT committed any crime. They do this by obtaining an emergency protection order "ex parte"( in the parents' absence)to take away children into foster care. They claim these children have "suffered emotional harm"or worse still are "at risk of emotional harm" ! On this basis an order is nearly always granted without any problem by a "friendly" magistrate. They then pressurise the parents with threats that if they do not "do what we tell you"or if they dare to discuss "the case" with their children or tell them "we love you and miss you"during "contact" the social services will stop contact and maybe never let those parents see their children again etc .Parents are GAGGED when speaking to their own children !
6:- Even worse,when issuing INTERIM CARE ORDERS the "Family courts" have become "Kangaroo courts" . Interim care orders are issued on the basis of written statements from social workers and "hired experts" that cannot be questioned or disputed because these documents are not shown to the parents and in any case the authors are nearly always absent from court ! The parents are rarely allowed to testify as not only the judge but also their own lawyers nearly always stop them from speaking !If they do by some miracle manage to testify, what they say is not only disbelieved it is almost always completely ignored !The interim care orders are usually renewed automatically every month for nearly a year before a final care hearing is held ,during which time the unfortunate children are isolated and sometimes alienated from their parents(due to very limited supervised contact periods) wondering what they have done wrong !
7:-"Legal aid lawyers", usually advise clients to "go along with social services"earning their fees the easy way ! Those few parents who succeed in winning and recovering their children are nearly always those who represent themselves.When this happens however judgements ,court documents,reports from experts, and position statements are often shown to parents at the last moment or not shown to them at all !As a consequence ,when local authorities apply for an interim care order in the family courts only one in 400 is refused !(official judicial statistics), so what chance do most of the unfortunate parents have?
8:-To cap it all social workers only too often, go round schools and friends of parents and,by their loaded questions spread harmful rumours about the parents.The unfortunate parents however are warned (quite wrongly in fact) that they are forbidden to talk to ANYBODY about their case (they actually CAN talk to individuals for advice and support) .Those bold enough to protest publicly, or otherwise break gagging orders are jailed in private for their impertinence (200+ per year according to Harriet Harman answering a Parliamentary question, when she was minister for children).
Yes parents are legally GAGGED yet again, when their babies and toddlers are taken to protect the "privacy "of families and children !Grandparents,aunts,and uncles are excluded from the court in order to" protect the children's privacy !" Social services however have no need to respect this "privacy" as they frequently advertise for adoption the children they have taken, with colour photos and first names in the Daily Mirror and other periodicals,much to the horror of parents when they see their offspring paraded for "the public to choose" like pedigree dogs!
9:-Eventually many of these children get adopted ("Forced Adoption")and their siblings are often split up into different families despite the pleas of their parents who have been judged to pose a "risk of emotional abuse"to these babies and young children.Alone in Europe,only the UK (and maybe Croatia and Portugal) tolerates forced adoption of children against the wishes of parents in court.In most cases,the parents never see or hear from their children for the rest of their lives,so these children are cut off for ever not only from their parents,but also their grandparents,aunts,uncles,cousins and quite often also from their own brothers and sisters ! The parents (and their children) are in effect punished not for something they have done but for something some "expert" (using a crystal ball?) thinks they might do in the future !Babies and young children who have been battered and physically abused (like baby P) are "poor adoption material" and no use to social workers hoping to "hit" their adoption targets,(PAF C23 Ofsted) so they are more often than not left to die alone....
10:-Children however, with just ONE unexplained injury such as a bruise,a burn, or a fractured arm but with no prior record of abuse or injuries still make good adoption material and are seized for that purpose even when there is no evidence that the parents were in any way responsible. IT'S "ONE STRIKE AND YOU ARE OUT".That is the cry of the "SS" and is typical of the way that "justice" is served up at our UK family courts !
11:-This is the REALITY of what actually happens to parents falling foul of the "system".Is there a conspiracy?No need!Lawyers,fosterers,"experts",adoption agencies,social workers,and even judges all do very nicely out of the present system and have no need to conspire ,but naturally they do unite to resist, to COVER UP any mistakes they may have made if anyone threatens to "rock the boat" !
12:-What reforms should the government introduce?Well,the social workers in "child protection" must be ordered to pass their enforcement functions back to the police, who should only remove children if crimes have been committed by parents that could adversely affect their capacity to care for the children. The family courts should adopt the rules of evidence that govern procedures in the criminal courts where fair and just rules of evidence now prevail.That is how it used to be before the Children Act 1948 when police and criminal courts(not social workers and family courts) dealt with removal of children from cruel or neglectful parents, and it worked much better !Parents would have the right to question their "accusers",demand final hearings by juries, and would no longer be gagged.Parents should no longer threatened with jail if they complain publicly when their children are taken,and should no longer be threatened with having their contact sessions with their children in care stopped if they dare to discuss their case with them.The Children Act 1989 should be amended to remove all gagging of parents wishing to discuss publicly matters concerning their children or to talk about their case with those children.There would then at last be an excellent chance that most of these injustices would be eliminated.
13:-Yes family courts should be criminal courts and children should only be taken from parents if they have committed or been charged with a crime.At the moment however babies are snatched at birth from perfectly innoffensive and law abiding parents for "risk of emotional abuse".This accusation is the social worker's"favourite"as it is quite impossible for parents to prove their innocence when so called "experts" predict what they might or might not do at some time in the future ! Incredibly,mothers lose their children to forced adoption not for anything they HAVE done but for what some "experts" (reading tea leaves or tarot cards?) predict they might do !
Yes it's punishment without crime !!
14:-Even the actual family court proceedings are fatally flawed . Only too often parents resisting a local authority application for an interim care order are faced with reports from social workers and "experts" who do not come to court and so cannot be questioned.Barristers read these reports as though they are themselves witnesses and present these reports made by absent officials and experts as though they are "gospel truth" . When the parents contradict them with live evidence in court the hearsay evidence coming from the local authority barristers is nearly always preferred !Furthermore,when the local authority employs an "expert" to rule on parents' mental state,non accidental injury to a child,or parents' general parenting skills those parents are routinely refused by a judge the opportunity to call experts of their own to counter those "expert opinions" .The result is that parents are then faced with reports by these experts who rarely turn up in court to be questioned. The parents are then informed that they have no qualifications so when the local authority's expert says they are not fit parents,then that is the evidence that must be believed !
15:-The theory is that "adoption targets"(still very much in force via Ofsted PAF C23) are set to encourage social workers to find children languishing in care for years new permanent homes. The reality however is that adopters want babies not older children so social workers seize babies and toddlers to be put into care and from there into forced adoption with the agreement of compliant judges so that targets can be met !
Disgracefully in our family courts all the rules of evidence are casually "thrown out of the window". SHAME on our family court legal system and all those who support it !
16:-EXAMPLES OF HOW RULES OF EVIDENCE HAVE BEEN DISCARDED IN THE FAMILY COURTs WHEN GRANTING INTERIM CARE ORDERS.
1:- Statements from the local authority are shown to the judge but rarely to parents.Family and friends of parents are routinely excluded from the court but groups of social workers are allowed to stay in the court to listen to their colleague's testimony whether they are witnesses or not.
2:- Parents representing themselves are denied the opportunity to cross examine witnesses appearing against them.Judgements,reports from experts,and position statements are either witheld or given to parents at the last minute (too late to read and analyse them properly).
3:- Parents are routinely refused permission to call for a second opinion when "experts" and Doctors have testified against them.If parents record contacts with their children, or interviews with experts or social workers judges routinely refuse permission for these recordings to be heard yet they always allow recordings and video evidence to be heard if produced by police or social workers.
4:-Parents whose children have been taken are routinely and wrongly told that they may not talk to ANYONE about their case.
5:-Parents are jailed if they protest publlcly when their children are taken.They are also jailed for "breach of the peace" or "harassment" if they dare to trace and then contact their own children after adoption.Parents are therefore" twice gagged" contrary to the Human Rights Act ,Article 10 entitling all persons "freedom of expression",ie freedom of speech.
6:-Local authority barristers in court often read out statements from absent persons as though they are themselves witnesses but they cannot be questioned.
7:- Most solicitors refuse to let their clients speak and then agree to all care orders demanded by social services.
8:-Judges routinely castigate parents who wish to speak or who represent themselves even though they have the right to do so;Their evidence and their arguments are usually ignored in the judgements.
9;-Parents representing themselves are often given an hour or two's notice to appear in court but solicitors are given weeks !
10:-Parents are punished for "risk" ie not what they have done but for what they might do in the future! "Risk of emotional abuse" is favourite because there is no legal definition of this and it is usually impossible for parents to defend themselves against "predictions" by so called "experts".
11:-Judges give social workers the power to withold parent's contact with their children" in care" as a punishment for saying they love them and miss them or that they are fighting to get them back .They use this power to gag parents and force them into complete submission !
12:-Parents are in effect condemned for offences against their children on "probabilities" 51% instead of beyond reasonable doubt.
13:-Parents who were themselves in care or who were abused in childhood are often judged unfit to be parents as a result.
14:-Parents often forfeit their children for "failing to engage with professionals"
15:-Parents faced with forced adoption lose their children for life, without being allowed a hearing by jury.
16:-Under the UN Convention on children's rights children have a RIGHT to be heard in court but are usually denied that right.
17:-Solicitors routinely tell client parents to agree to interim care orders or they risk never seeing their children again.A lie !
18:-Social workers are legally obliged to place children with relatives if possible but either ignore this or find pretexts to fail them on assessments
19:-Human rights to free speech and freedom of movement are breached by gagging orders and confiscating parents' passports.
20:-Parents are routinely forbidden to call witnesses on their behalf contrary to human rights.Family and friends are wrongly prevented from entering the court.
17:- Extract from "The Times" April 13th 2010 !
"Lord Justice Wall (The Senior family court judge) said that the determination of some social workers to place children in an "unsatisfactory care system" away from their families was "quite shocking".In a separate case on which Sir Nicholas Wall also sat, Lord Justice Aikens described the actions of social workers in Devon as "more like Stalin's Russia or Mao's China than the West of England" !
18:-Lord Justice Thorpe said on Appeal "I am completely aghast at this case.There is nothing more serious than a removal hearing,because the parents are so prejudiced in proceedings thereafter.Once you have lost a child it is very difficult to get a child back." The hearing above lasted only 15 minutes after a doctor "expressed the opinion" that bruising in the ear of one of the three children looked as though it was caused by pinching .The parents were not allowed to give any evidence!Their three children had all been forcibly removed until they were ordered to be returned by Lord Justice Thorpe on appeal.
19:-.If the three family judges above desribe the family courts respectively as "shocking","more like Mao's China and Stalin's Russia,and "prejudiced against parents" who would care to contradict them? !!
1:- The UK is the ONLY State in the WORLD that gags parents whose children have been taken by social services
2:- The UK is the ONLY State in Europe (except Croatia and possibly Portugal) to permit the horror of "forced adoption".
3:-The UK is the ONLY State in Europe to allow "Punishment without crime" ie the taking of children by social services from parents who have not committed any criminal offence.
4:- The UK is the ONLY State in Europe taking children for "emotional abuse" and worse still "risk of emotional abuse" (on the basis of predictions from overpaid charlatans that one day parents just might harm their children)
5:- The UK is the ONLY State in Europe to censor conversation between parents and children in care.Children are left wondering what they have done wrong as parents are forbidden to explain the situation, or discuss the court case in any way. Phrases such as "I love you and I miss you" are also forbidden under the threat of contact beeing stopped immediately if the parents "transgress." Children naturally begin to think their parents might not love them or want them back anymore.
20:-All this is a disgrace to democracy and a disgrace to freedom that could be instantly rectified by legislation to make all the above five practices illegal and to allow parents threatened with permanent separation from their children to demand a hearing by a jury.