UK forced adoptions of foreign nationals

(346 Posts)
Hummingbirds Sun 11-Nov-12 21:34:11

This is sick! How come in Slovakia the media has reported on this extensively and they've had demonstrations outside the British embassy yet here in the UK there's been almost total silence? With a few honourable exceptions including journalist Christopher Booker and MP John Hemming.

"... The case that goes to the Appeal Court this week concerns two young boys, Slovakian subjects, whose parents have lived and worked in Britain since their country joined the EU in 2004. Two years ago, when the parents took one of their sons to hospital to enquire about a minor infection, social workers were alerted that it might be the result of a 'non-accidental injury'. The boys were put into the temporary care of the family's American pastor, who describes how social workers then arrived with three police cars to remove the children, screaming as they were torn from their horrified mother and grandmother, to an official foster home.

"Thus began a protracted legal battle, involving many court hearings, four different social workers, seven 'expert' doctors and psychologists, 16 interpreters, 13 different 'contact supervisors' and dozens of lawyers. Initially the local authority seemed happy to contemplate that the children might be returned to live with their grandmother in Slovakia, but the social workers of a council that advertises its enthusiasm for adoption on its website then suggested to the foster carers that they might like to adopt the boys.

"By now the Slovak authorities were involved and could see no reason why the children should not come back to live with their grandmother. But earlier this year a judge found in favour of the council, ruling, to the astonishment of the Slovak authorities, that the boys should be adopted."

"The case has attracted widespread media interest in Slovakia, and the Slovak justice ministry has posted on its website a 'Declaration on adoption of Slovak children in the UK', stating that it has such 'serious concern' over the workings of Britain's 'family protection' system, and the readiness of the British authorities to remove children from their 'biological parents' for 'no sound reason', that its representative on the ECHR plans to challenge the legality of Britain's policy in Strasbourg."

"... the Slovak media claim to know of some 30 other Slovak children taken from their parents."

Read the full Telegraph article

Hummingbirds Sun 11-Nov-12 23:34:02

And here is a heartbreaking story of a forced adoption in Cornwall.

'I was stolen from my mother': The deeply disturbing truth about forced adoption

The truth is every one of these forced adoption stories is heartbreaking. At least this story in the Daily Mail has a happy ending.

dekoLL Mon 12-Nov-12 00:40:58
ReallyTired Mon 12-Nov-12 21:46:50

I'm sorry I have to take these stories with a pinch of salt. Children over the age of two or three are virtually unadoptable. (Ok, these boys may have been lucky, but most people want cute babies) There must have been pretty strong evidence of abuse. It cost and absolute fortune to take children into care. Its not done lightly.

My guess is that the British social workers were not confident that the Slovak granmother would be a better parent and had no way of monitoring her.

If East Europeans want equal rights to apply for our jobs then they need to accept British law. (Ie. not abuse their kids) I suppose the logical thing would have been to send the children back to Slovakia, but maybe UK social workers were (understandably) worried about the standard of their care system.

As in all these cases UK social workers cannot give their side of the story.

If the family have been in the UK fulltime for the past 8 years, then perhaps sending the children to a country where they have never lived would not be an ideal solution either?

Hummingbirds Mon 12-Nov-12 22:13:49

ReallyTired and AMumInScotland -- it would be lovely if the system worked like that, but a vast number of stories of terrible abuses and miscarriages of justice suggest it doesn't.

Why not watch the film deko linked to?

Have either of you looked into the way the "family protection" system works?

"Among the dozens of cases I have reported where children are removed from their parents, often for what appear the most absurd reasons, I have been astonished to hear how judges accept extraordinary claims by social workers and lawyers without allowing the parents to challenge them. Hearsay evidence is accepted in a way that would never be allowed in a normal court, and parents are condemned on evidence they are not allowed to see."

This system is a disgrace.

TheEnthusiasticTroll Mon 12-Nov-12 22:31:12

Well of course OP, MP John Hummingbirds.

If the children have been here for 8 years why should they be returned. Sadly when parents have had their children removed due to neglect and abuse they will not always see that is what there behaviour has resulted in, otherwise they would see this and provide nurturing care free from abuse and neglect, when they don't and their children are removed, there side of the story will be of the aggrieved parent.

Stop with the social worker bashing. Why is this bloke even an MP still he is extremely dangerous

TheEnthusiasticTroll Mon 12-Nov-12 22:33:40

There are very good reasons cases should not be heard in an open court, and far ally you and your cronies who publish and encourage the exploitation of these parents and their families is quite horrific.

ReallyTired Mon 12-Nov-12 22:43:25

"Have either of you looked into the way the "family protection" system works? "

I don't know much about the family protection system. In real life I have met children whose lives have been ruined by appauling parenting. In fact special schools up and down the country (typically Emotional Behavioural Difficulties or MLD with a handful of severe special needs children)

In general social services are too reluctant to take children into care. I am not sure what to do about potential miscarriages of justice and the secrecy of the courts. However the rights of the children to be safe are more important than someone's right to be a parent. Its not a murder trial and evidence doesn't need to be same standard.

Ofcourse its unfair. Its like the fact that an unfair caution can prevent someone from becoming a teacher. In child protection parents have to prove they are fit rather than a prosecuter have to prove innocence.

Devora Mon 12-Nov-12 22:49:54

Oh dear. I just mentioned John Hemming on another thread, and clearly the klaxon went off in his batcave...

OP, if you are nothing to do with Mr Hemmings, forgive me. But frankly, anything reported by Christopher Booker or John Hemming is going to be well dodgy. And are you really suggesting that children living in the UK should not benefit from the protection of British law because of the origin of their parents?

edam Mon 12-Nov-12 22:56:59

John H is an MP because people vote for him. Do you think social services should have the power to seize MPs as well as children?

There are undoubtedly very many sad cases where children do need to be removed from abusive families. That does not mean every decision made by anyone involved in child protection is always right. Miscarriages of justice happen in every part of the courts system - the family courts are not exempt. Only bad decisions made by the family courts that lead to adoption can never be put right.

Look at shaken baby syndrome - the doctors concerned were utterly convinced they were 'right' that they had 'definitive' evidence that a certain kind of injury could 'only' be cause by shaking. Only now it is becoming clear that they were over-confident in the perfection and accuracy of their diagnosis.

Zealots are dangerous. They were dangerous in the satanic abuse hysteria. They were dangerous in the anal dilation hysteria. They were dangerous in the Munchausen's hysteria. And the thing is they are always utterly convinced that they are right, that there could be no possible doubt about what they are saying. Even when there is plenty of room for doubt. Remember Roy Meadows and his 'to lose one child to cot death is a tragedy, two is suspicious, three is murder'? Didn't occur to Mr Clever-Clogs that a. he wasn't a statistician so had no business speculating, let alone dressing up that speculation as a fact or b. that he actually hadn't bothered to ask whether cot death might run in families, or ask whether anyone else had investigated this area.

I'm talking about doctors because my job means I know a little about the NHS. At least there is some attempt at quality control in the NHS. What quality control exists in social services? How many social workers have been struck off their professional register? Last time I checked, I'm sure the answer was 'none'. So you have one field where bad practitioners can be disciplined, but some still exist and get away with ruining lives. And a related field where bad practitioners have just as much power to destroy people, but no accountability at all.

TheEnthusiasticTroll Mon 12-Nov-12 23:03:41

I agree with a lot what you say, however you clearly have to looked too deal many many social workers are struck off their professional registration and those are published by that professional registration. There is accountability and regulation andnitbis idiotic to suggest their is not.

TheEnthusiasticTroll Mon 12-Nov-12 23:04:25

Sorry clearly have not looked deeply enough to see how any have been struck off.

Hummingbirds Mon 12-Nov-12 23:04:29

It really is extraordinary. We've had investigations uncovering the fact that children in Welsh and Islington "care" homes were being sold to rich businessmen for paedophile sex, yet some of you are calling loudly for us to keep our heads down and trust the system.

The system -- indeed, any system -- clearly needs safeguards. And as Edam has pointed out, when it comes to "family protection" there are no safeguards against incompetent or malign social workers.

Hummingbirds Mon 12-Nov-12 23:05:55

cross post, Troll -- the fact that there are secret courts with secret "evidence" is in itself a clear travesty of justice.

TheEnthusiasticTroll Mon 12-Nov-12 23:08:41

But you can't just put vulnerable children and parents up their to be plastered and exploited all over the press.

exexpat Mon 12-Nov-12 23:17:42

I sincerely hope that hummingbirds is not actually John Hemming in disguise. On another thread on the Newsnight/Tory paedophile business Hummingbirds said that David Icke speaks 90% truth. Yes, that's the David Icke who thinks that the world is run by a conspiracy of lizards. If an actual elected member of the British parliament believed that sort of stuff it would be deeply worrying.

But then we have at least one MP who appears to believe that eating bugs on a reality TV show is an effective way to communicate her political views, so perhaps it is not so far-fetched after all...

Hummingbirds Mon 12-Nov-12 23:20:09

I suggest posters on this thread watch this daytime tv interview with Fran Lyon before commenting further.

Now who will come forward to defend the case against Fran Lyon? How obscene to snatch a newborn from a normal healthy mother!

SamSmalaidh Mon 12-Nov-12 23:26:18

I would have thought sending the children to their grandmother in Slovakia would have been the cheapest and easiest option for social services, so the fact that they didn't suggests that they couldn't. Keeping the children in care, and then losing experienced foster carers to adopt them and having to recruit and train replacement foster carers would surely be the most difficult outcome for social services? Again that suggests they had compelling reasons to remove these children, unless they have some ideological reason to take slovakian children and give them to british couples hmm

TheEnthusiasticTroll Mon 12-Nov-12 23:28:29

Yes this violent incident that they can not go into. Violence in the home has devastating consequences on the brain, cognitive and emotional development of children. Those are my last word.

TheEnthusiasticTroll Mon 12-Nov-12 23:36:30

Oh and a psychological report.

Munchausen is not a made up mental health problem

Hummingbirds Mon 12-Nov-12 23:36:39

What "violence", Troll? You do realise, I hope, that many of these children are being snatched because of the perceived threat of future "emotional abuse", whatever that is. If the threshold were actual violence, it would be a very different story.

The children in deko's documentary film were removed because one of them had an infection on his genitals. Zero evidence of bad parenting.

Hummingbirds Mon 12-Nov-12 23:39:07

Troll -- a psychological report by a specialist who never met Fran Lyon.

The authorities in her case -- and, crucially, following the media interest -- did a U-turn later. But what about all the parents who are gagged and cannot go to the media?

achillea Mon 12-Nov-12 23:51:55

There is no way a child would be taken into care without there being a serious problem. Social services don't have the time or the money to waste. This is just a typical Telegraph 'nanny state alert' article.

TheEnthusiasticTroll Tue 13-Nov-12 00:10:25

I have not watched this morning for some years and surprised to see Denise hook line and sinker drawn into this so much so her body language towards John hummingbirds is alarming in its self.

Hummingbirds Tue 13-Nov-12 19:42:38

It really is sad to see a number of posters trivialising this issue. I for one think that removing a newborn fifteen minutes after birth from a young woman because she suffered psychological problems after being raped is a very serious crime.

Perhaps I'm alone in that view.

Fran Lyon was forced to give up everything and move abroad to stop her child being snatched from her. That is Nazi Germany.

Narked Tue 13-Nov-12 20:01:21

I can't understand why we have secret court proceedings. It's ridiculous and unnecessary. You can protect the reporting of the identity of the children and adults concerned. It's done in other court matters. the current system makes it very difficult for parents to defend themselves.

And there are errors of judgement by social services - we see reports on the consequences of children left with abusive parents all the time. Why is it hard to believe that errors could be made the other way - removing DC that are safe?

ErikNorseman Tue 13-Nov-12 20:11:26

John Hemming Hummingbirds there is no such thing as a 'family protection' system - as you well know. It is Child protection, and quite rightly. You talk shit.

Narked Tue 13-Nov-12 20:28:12

Fran Lyon was told her baby would be removed from her at birth. As soon as the child was born a court order would have meant she couldn't talk about the case. She was determined to be a risk to her unborn child from people who had never met her and had no qualifications in psychiatry.

She got help, put her case in front of the media and left the country. And low and behold, SS changed their minds! Because it was all over the media, a leading London-based expert got involved and gave their opinion which contradicted the panel's.

What do you think would have happened to a less informed, less educated woman who found herself in Ms Lyon's place? In fact, lets face it, what has happened to less informed, less well educated women who've found themselves in her place, because there's no way that this is the first time this has happened.

I don't believe there's a grand conspiracy to raise adoption rates, I do believe SS do a lot of good and I think JH MP is disturbing. I also believe that sometimes, SS make mistakes. Medical professionals make mistakes. And they are loathe to admit them.

HanSolo Tue 13-Nov-12 20:32:31

I personally know 2 slov akian children who were removed from parents, and were to be repatriated to grandmothers care. However, GM was judged not to be adequate carer, and they were repatriated and went into foster care in home country.
You're talking about 1 case, where I'm guessing the children were born in UK in any case.

Narked Tue 13-Nov-12 20:37:40

A woman whose partner battered her child to death was convicted recently, because she left her child in the care of the man who had previously broken her jaw, attacked her whilst she was pregnant and was only allowed near her because she'd withdrawn her statement against him which led to the charges of assault against him being dropped, which meant the restraining order on him was no longer in effect. She left her child alone with the man for days. Where were SS then? To me that's a hell of a lot more urgent than planning to remove the first child of someone that isn't even born yet.

Devora Tue 13-Nov-12 20:41:30

For sure SS make mistakes. Absolutely the system needs significant improvement. Which is why it's such a shame we end up spending so much time battling the straw men put up by JH et al.

Perhaps we should have a thread dedicated to sensible discussion of reforming the child protection system.

Narked Tue 13-Nov-12 21:03:50

The problem with JH etc is that their reaction to so many cases of children being removed and the conspiracy theory shit actually stops people reacting with horror to the cases where SS have been truly appalling and removed children with no cause. And those cases do exist.

TheEnthusiasticTroll Tue 13-Nov-12 21:34:37

Great idea Devora

Devora Tue 13-Nov-12 22:08:07

Let's do it! Where?

johnhemming Tue 13-Nov-12 23:42:37

I only post under my own name. There are lots of awful decisions not picked up by the system. I know more than I say.

Hummingbirds Wed 14-Nov-12 00:24:31

John Hemming, if you are still here, I applaud your outstanding work in advocating for the vulnerable and voiceless families who have been let down by a clearly flawed family 'justice' system.

You are clearly an MP of immense integrity. I also applaud your interest in seeking justice in the Jersey care homes cases.

johnhemming Wed 14-Nov-12 07:21:05

Thank you for that. Anyone interested in Jersey should read the full statement from the Chief of Police (who was suspended)

We are very complacent in England. We tolerate all sorts of corruption by people who wear suits.

Hummingbirds Wed 14-Nov-12 16:00:06

"We tolerate all sorts of corruption by people who wear suits."

Yes, surely that's the heart of the problem. Blind trust in the system.

Extrospektiv Thu 15-Nov-12 14:40:56

Is John Hemming really anti-safeguarding?
I'm not convinced. I think he is too conspiracy minded but he wants the best for the children involved.

Extrospektiv Thu 15-Nov-12 14:42:23

Some of the people on here presumably even consider Terri Dowty a "dangerous anti-child nutter".

Hummingbirds Thu 15-Nov-12 17:04:55

Call me radical if you like, but I think it should be up to the child who they live with.

I've all my life believed that children should be given a voice.

There was an article in the papers recently about a boy who was removed from his parents because he had a bruise on him. Shockingly, no one thought to ask the boy where the bruise came from! An appeals judge was horrified and overturned the decision.

Hummingbirds Thu 15-Nov-12 17:09:05

And this is article is deeply shocking:

"Devastating new light was recently shed on the “expert” evidence on which our courts so crucially rely by Professor Jane Ireland’s report analysing 126 psychological reports used in family cases. A fifth of their authors, the study found, had no proper qualifications; 90 per cent were not in practice but earned their living from producing reports for social workers, and two thirds of the results were “poor” or “very poor” in quality.

"The publication of this damning report, which had been delayed for six months, coincided with the reporting to the General Medical Council of another psychological “expert”, Dr George Hibbert, accused of writing hundreds of reports framed to suit the views of social workers. He had allegedly earned £6,000 a week for each family he was asked to “assess”."

Extrospektiv Thu 15-Nov-12 17:10:04

John Holt & Richard Farson= prochild radicals [the most anti-parent, pro-pedophilia people ever to reach the top level of academia too]

You're not a radical. The law says children SHOULD be given a voice, and if they are considered old enough (usually around 12) they can instruct a solicitor themselves, although the guardian ad litem handles most cases.

Children considered old enough to understand are admitted to CP conferences now as well, have been for some years. The system is far more open to the children whose futures are being decided than it was in the '80s

VirginiaDare Thu 15-Nov-12 17:20:05

Of course it shouldn't be up to a child who they live with. Children will usually want to stay with a parent even when that parent treats them appallingly.

What is the advantage to "the system" to spend precious resources and time to remove children from adequate parents? What is the motivation for them? It's illogical on a very basic level. Of course mistakes can happen, but the very vast majority of children removed from their parents are removed because those parents have failed them.
It is as simple as that.

VirginiaDare Thu 15-Nov-12 17:23:19

I notice in the case mentioned in the OP that the appeal is based on these children being sent to live with their grandmother? It appears that there is no argument that the parents were not unfit then?

Hummingbirds Thu 15-Nov-12 17:29:05

"Lord Justice Wall 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”.

The criticism of social workers from two of the most senior family court judges came as the number of children placed in care has reached a record high after the Baby Peter tragedy."

Hummingbirds Thu 15-Nov-12 17:37:12

If I had the time I could just sit here all day finding the most atrocious miscarriages of justice that are tearing innocent families apart. Here's another one:

"A judge broke up a family in just 15 minutes, it was revealed yesterday.

"Judge James Orrell ordered that three children should be taken from their parents after doctors gave evidence in his court about bruising to the ear of one young child.

"The doctors said it was their opinion that the bruising could have been caused by pinching."

"Appeal Judge Lord Justice Thorpe said he was 'aghast' at the handling of the case."

"'This does not seem to me like acceptable process or natural justice.'"

So which of the social workers posting here is going to defend this decision to rip a family apart on the flimsiest "evidence"?

Extrospektiv Thu 15-Nov-12 18:15:13

It is courageous to speak about this reasonably because you can easily get labelled anti safe guarding or a conspiracy theorist.

I believe professionals in children's services are fallible and are too often defended just because they are professionals, and this somehow means they always act correctly and parents who complain are always abusers just looking to air a grievance they know SWs and others involved on their side cannot answer under confidentiality legislation.

I don't believe the conspiracies of Brian Gerrish and others, which hold in their least crazy form that social workers snatch innocent children from innocent families to get personal financial bonuses for meeting adopting targets. More nutty conspiracrats add in elements of freemasonry, rape rings, torture, satanic ritual abuse and the EU Commission being the leader of a paedophile ring. Gerrish once claimed that children are snatched for forcible drug-testing, use in masonic child sacrifice rituals to false gods like Moloch and personal sex toys of a series of people including EU Commissioner Barroso, several family court judges and minor members of the Royal Family.
The audience- somewhere in the south- believed him. Not quite sure why.

johnhemming Thu 15-Nov-12 20:28:04

>I notice in the case mentioned in the OP that the appeal is based on these
children being sent to live with their grandmother? It appears that there is no
argument that the parents were not unfit then?

I cannot comment in detail because I wrote the appeal paperwork and would prefer not to go to jail. However, your assumption is not one you can make on the information provided.

>The audience- somewhere in the south- believed him. Not quite sure why.
How can you tell whether or not an audience believes a speaker. Oddly enough the systems work better on the continent (although there are varying problems in different countries). Hence it is not an issue relating to EU.

Hummingbirds Thu 15-Nov-12 23:43:00

The very fact that large numbers of social workers have invaded this thread to defend the system in a knee-jerk fashion is deeply worrying. If even top surgeons can botch things, then clearly no profession is safe from incompetent practitioners.

"Police are investigating a breast cancer surgeon who could have performed needless or botched operations on more than 1,000 women" Police investigate surgeon who 'misdiagnosed' breast cancer

Well, it is common knowledge: police, doctors and social workers like to protect their own.

TheEnthusiasticTroll Thu 15-Nov-12 23:56:15

You have had 4 posters disagree, how is that inundated.

Hummingbirds Fri 16-Nov-12 00:23:58

Can you declare your interest here, Troll? Are you a social worker?

Because I have absolutely zero vested interest here. My interest simply lies in a desire to see natural justice done and to have a high threshold of sound evidence before families are ripped apart.

TheEnthusiasticTroll Fri 16-Nov-12 00:26:32

My interest is reading a thread on the internet

VirginiaDare Fri 16-Nov-12 00:32:05

Large numbers of social workers? Where?
You sound awfully paranoid.

Hummingbirds Fri 16-Nov-12 00:51:18

90% of the responses on this thread have been from posters denying that there is anything wrong with the family justice system. On another thread it was pointed out that whenever John Hemming posts on Mumsnet he gets attacked by posters who are social workers.

If no social workers have posted on this thread in defence of their colleagues then I stand corrected.

To be honest, when I started this thread, I genuinely expected other posters to be as outraged as I was at these blatant miscarriages of justice. To remove children from their parents and put them up for adoption on flimsy 'evidence' by professionals who have a vested interest ought to outrage any decent person.

Devora Fri 16-Nov-12 01:37:20

Where are the social workers on this thread? I don't see any.

Neither do I see people denying that there is anything wrong with the family justice system. I for one am happy to discuss it. Just without the conspiracy theories and collective guilt.

Oh, and Mr Hemmings has had a fair bit of flak on Mumsnet because of his habit of starting threads in the adoption area in order to insult and patronise the adoptive parents there.

Devora Fri 16-Nov-12 01:39:46

So what is your source of information on all this, Hummingbird?

MrsHoarder Fri 16-Nov-12 02:17:32

I'm curious, what at british social workers supposed to do when worried about the welfare of a child with forth national parents? Obviously its going to be difficult to be sure they will be safe if sent out of the UK, and forced adoptions do happen, what the important question is whether these are fair and just forced adoptions?

VirginiaDare Fri 16-Nov-12 08:10:51

Nobody said there is nothing at all wrong with justice system. And assuming that anyone who disagrees with you is a social worker is showing a gap in logic that characterises the rest of your points. hmm

johnhemming Fri 16-Nov-12 10:12:05

>Oh, and Mr Hemmings has had a fair bit of flak on Mumsnet because of his
>habit of starting threads in the adoption area in order to insult and patronise
>the adoptive parents there.

This is a claim for which you can provide evidence (ie put a link to one of the threads). Please do so.

johnhemming Fri 16-Nov-12 17:03:12

So Devora has made a claim, but cannot substantiate it. Basically because the claim is not true. Something seen a lot in family court proceedings.

BoneyBackJefferson Fri 16-Nov-12 19:05:42


this whole thread is based on a un substantiated claim by the "slovak media"

Devora Fri 16-Nov-12 21:49:23

Hey John, I have a job. And when I'm at work, I'm not on MN (like you, I'm paid by the taxpayer).

You want evidence for your insulting and patronising behaviour on adoption threads? Why don't you do a search on your own name, and find those threads where we have told you - directly and unequivocally - that you are insulting and patronising us?

Hummingbirds Sat 17-Nov-12 00:42:59

Devora ~ "conspiracy theories and collective guilt"

What conspiracy theories? What collective guilt?

BoneyBack ~ "this whole thread is based on a un substantiated claim by the "slovak media""

No it is not. Read the original post and first page of the thread.

bureni Sat 17-Nov-12 00:53:48

"British law" whats that then? lol

BoneyBackJefferson Sat 17-Nov-12 10:11:32

""... the Slovak media claim to know of some 30 other Slovak children taken from their parents."

Read the full Telegraph article"

Its an article about an article, which is rumour because the courts are held in secret (which you may know about smile )and we will only ever hear one side of the story because the other is not allowed to speak.

johnhemming Sat 17-Nov-12 13:47:56

a) The Slovak Government have identified 40 cases involving 89 children where they have concerns.
b) One of the cases was in the court of appeal in the RCJ yesterday and the appeal was allowed. There will be a published, but anonymous judgment, relating to this case at some stage.

BoneyBackJefferson Sat 17-Nov-12 17:15:27

So if the report can't even get the numbers right how can "we" trust the rest?

johnhemming Sat 17-Nov-12 17:36:08

I am giving you the up to date figures to the best of my knowledge. Obviously they didn't start out having 40 cases, but after a while they found 40 cases. The number is probably higher now, but the last time we spoke to the slovak government they gave the figure of 40.

Hummingbirds Sat 17-Nov-12 17:48:16

If someone could explain the obsession of a number of posters here with "conspiracy theory", I'd be grateful. This thread is about the exceedingly low threshold of evidence for removal of children from their biological parents and the permanent psychological damage caused to the children thus removed. Where does conspiracy come into it?

This is a genuine question. I am puzzled.

johnhemming Sat 17-Nov-12 17:56:45

probably best to ask David Icke's lizards.

JaquelineHyde Sat 17-Nov-12 19:29:25

I'm a student social worker. Am I allowed to have an opinion on this thread or will I just be shouted down as looking out for my own kind hmm

I have experience of both sides of the coin here, my sister has had her only daughter removed and is probably going to have her unborn child removed at birth. The way she has been treated has been appaling, she has been lied to, pressured and decisions have clearly been made before full assessments have been carried out. However, the result was (and will be again) the correct decision.

On the otherside my dh's ex (and biological mother of my two beautiful daughters) was time and again given the benefit of the doubt by SS, she had services and support thrown at her and yet still she abused and then abandonned her children in a different county where no one knew them. The children (4 of them at the time and one unborn dd) were hideously damaged by the entire farce and all of this because SS decided to keep the children with their birth mother despite removal clearly being the better decision. During the full assessment and court papers it turned out she had already had one child removed by another LA's SS and her other children (prior to dh meeting her) had been placed on the child protection register. She kept it all secret, moved around and managed to ruin children's lives.

I suspect if either of the 'mothers' mentioned above came to you with their cases you could probably bend it and twist it to fit your agenda perfectly, ignoring the fact that the best outcome for all the children involved was removal. A very sad fact but a realistic one.

However, as I have already told you I am a student social worker you will probably dismiss my life experience and opinions because they do not fit with your agenda.

johnhemming Sat 17-Nov-12 19:54:15

I am simply saying there are a large number of cases where the decisions are wrong. Some of these are where children are removed when they shouldn't be.

Xenia Sat 17-Nov-12 20:06:08

It's not just the Slovak case. There are others. I think an Indian one too, lots of them. Of course also English families are affected too. In so many cases there rae willing grandparents or uncles and aunts available too and still they go ahead. I would be pretty happy if we abolished adoption altogether. It's such a final thing.

johnhemming Sat 17-Nov-12 20:49:26

There are lots and lots of cases. Mainly UK citizens, but they don't have a government to fight for them.

Xenia Sat 17-Nov-12 21:02:28

And it could be any mumsnetter tomorrow affected by this. In fact as they now steal children from you even for emotional abuse just about any of us with children at home could lose them if social services got involved. I will only feel safe when my youngest are adult.

Devora Sat 17-Nov-12 21:03:06

Hummingbird, to understand you need to know the context and history of all the threads on this topic on Mumsnet. Have a search and a read.

Xenia, yes adoption is final - because children deserve to have permanence and security and parents that will be theirs forever. Ask Maryz about the situation in Ireland, where children of married parents cannot be adopted without parental consent, and the hellish limbo many of them are consigned to.

JacquelineHyde - thanks for your really interesting post. Can I ask you a bit more about it? Do you think that the differences and deficiencies in these two cases were down to individual social workers? Or is there something systemic and institutionalised that needs tackling? How do you feel entering the system as a student sw?

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 21:09:53

I agree Xenia [not following you btw].
I too only fully relaxed about ss when my children were about 16.When they are about 16 1/2, it is too near the 17 year old mark when ss think that by the time all the officialdom is done, the child will be 17 anyway.
I just think, you can never be sure of what is going to happen, what could go wrong to just about anyone.
Dont want to scare anyone, but mistakes are made. And I didnt fancy it being me.
I did foster at one stage, when they had to do very thorough checks beforehand, so thought at that time,that that might stand me in very good stead further down the line, if anything did go wrong.

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 21:11:52

Devora, is it still done, do I understand correctly, that birth parents are allowed to send a birthday card, and christmas card to their child if he/she has been adopted? Which didnt used to be the case?

Goldchilled7up Sat 17-Nov-12 21:21:13

I'm shocked and disturbed by these examples. It is indeed scary and sad sad

Hummingbirds Sat 17-Nov-12 21:30:33

JaquelineHyde -- Thank you for offering your perspective. The idea of depriving a newborn of being breastfed is pretty shocking -- of course, not all new mothers will breastfeed anyway, but the bond between mother and newborn is essential to a baby's emotional development. Do you agree?

Xenia -- I agree with everything you've said on this issue. The idea of forbidding a child from contact with their parent and vice versa is extraordinarily monstrous. It is the sort of thing that used to happen in the USSR under Stalin.

John Humming -- I'd be interested to hear approximately how many cases you've come across so far which you'd consider wrong removals of children.

Also, I'd be interested to hear what other posters think of Michael Gove's announcement yesterday that babies should be removed from their families if their nappies aren't changed regularly: Gove: More children should be taken into care to stop them suffering 'a life of soiled nappies, scummy baths, chaos and hunger'

Devora Sat 17-Nov-12 21:31:29

amillionyears, the trend is toward more open adoption. The child's needs are paramount, and are evaluated on an individual basis. So there is no rule on this, but yes, I think in most cases there is some kind of indirect contact (exchange of letters, birthday cards etc). Sometimes there is direct contact - at one stage I was hoping to adopt a child where it is was planned that she would have regular face to face contact with her birth father. There may also be direct or indirect contact with other members of the birth family, like grandparents.

Devora Sat 17-Nov-12 21:37:10

Hummingbirds, do you think that the idea of forbidding contact between parent and child is extraordinarily monstrous when that parent has stubbed out cigarettes on that child? Or sexually abused that child? Or involved that child in a paedophile ring? I know adopters whose children have been through all those things - do you seriously think that those children would have been better off with their birth parents?

Seems to me you're slipping from 'taking children into care unjustly is monstrous' (with which we would all agree) to 'taking children into care is always monstrous' which is something else again.

Oh, and Michael Gove didn't say children should be taken into care JUST for not having their nappies changed regularly. He argued that the bar for taking children into care should be lower. Whether or not you agree with him, it is ridiculous to traduce his argument in that way.

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 21:44:20

To me, there is middle ground.
It has been explained to me by social workers, that ss has a tendancy to swing one way and then swing the other.
That there will be a high profile media case, such as Baby P. Then social workers are trained and advised on what went wrong in cases like that, and then go too far the other way. Etc.

FamiliesShareGerms Sat 17-Nov-12 21:55:00

Xenia, I have always enjoyed reading your posts and admired your stance on so many things. Possibly even seen you a bit as a role model for working women. But with one post (the "I'd do away with adoption because it is so final" one) I'm afraid you have completely slipped in my estimation.

No reason for you to care about this, of course, and it is a digression from the thread. But can you really not see why the permanency of adoption is (for many, not all) children exactly the right thing for them?

And back on the thread: I am sure that there are many mistakes made by SS, just as there are in any profession. But so often that point gets swallowed up by the "Nazi social services who swoop in steal cute kids to put up for adoption to hit financial targets using the secret courts system to hide their evil doings" mantra. Which is frankly not helpful to the children (who should be at the heart of the system, not the parents), nor the parents and wider family affected by a decision to take a child into care.

Xenia Sat 17-Nov-12 22:05:55

I feel that no matter how very bad adoption is so very final that we should hardly need it. However I am certainly not an expert and have no axe to grind.

There are certainly a lot of miscarriages of justice in this area and adoptions where a relative is on hand or a parent who has moved towns and not enough effort is made to track them down.

I think my views are also covered by all the new work being done on genes and also the outcomes for children in care are so bad that support within the birth family is usually much the better course (as indeed social services will usually try). I know the Tories are currently proposing the exact opposite - much faster adoptions and many more children to be taken from their families which to me is not a very Tory value and they disappoint me. This must be a terribly emotive subject if you are adopted or have adopted of course and I know people like Michael Gove who were adopted will say how well they did was down to that. I just feel the unfairness caused to some does not justify the benefits the process gives to others.

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 22:16:03

From what little I have seen and know, there are a lot of "good" adoptions.
Though it can be heartbreaking for siblings that are not adopted or adopted into different familes, as well as the parents.

Devora Sat 17-Nov-12 22:30:29

So what do you do, Xenia, just leave kids with abusive parents? Or take them into foster care for the duration of their childhoods, maybe to be moved between numerous different foster homes, or care homes, as happens in Ireland?

You are of course right that the outcomes for children in care are poor. The care system desperately needs improvement. But what about the outcomes for children left in abusive homes? And it is important not to forget that children will have entered the care system suffering the effects of abuse and neglect, so hard to separate that from the effects of being in care per se.

Devora Sat 17-Nov-12 22:38:25

And yes, I do have an axe to grind, because I know what kind of life my dd would have had if she hadn't been taken into the care system and then adopted. She has half-siblings who weren't taken into care, and frankly their lives have been so far beyond grim - we are NOT talking irregularly changed nappies. Being adopted by me isn't a happy ever after for her, adoption isn't a fairytale, but she does at least have a fighting chance.

But that doesn't mean I have a rose-tinted view of social workers, or of the child protection system. I have had the joy of working with social workers who were dangerously inept. I have read adoption reports (the long ones they send you when you're being considered as adoptive parents, that give the child's whole story) and literally cried with anger at how social services have failed to provide adequate support, often going through generations. I have worked in the public sector for a long time and know all too well how dysfunctional care services can get. I think there are huge problems to tackle here. But no, I don't think those problems will be overcome by raising the intervention bar higher.

BoneyBackJefferson Sat 17-Nov-12 23:17:20

I wonder what those who are against the system advocate?

If they take the child away they are wrong
If they leave the child they are wrong
If they give support to the parents they are wrong
If they don't give support to the parents they are wrong
If they put the child in a foster home they are wrong
If they have the child adopted they are wrong
If the child grows up to be abusive the system is wrong

I used to read a blog by wilsonsmith (you can still find it) he wrote a book and no longer blogs, but it shows how wrong the system of care homes is/can be. He highlights not only the problems within the system but of bad parents as well.

Spero Sat 17-Nov-12 23:52:08

'Well of course OP, MP John Hummingbirds.'

thank you EnthusiasticTroll, that made me laugh.

On a more serious note, given that Hemming, Booker et al believe that when things go wrong in the child protection system, they go wrong because of deliberate consipiracies between professionals who are paid to ensure that babies are taken into care for adoption... what do they say about care proceedings for much older children?

to what end are these children perceived as valuable commodities for the adoption system?

It will probably not interest JH but I had a client recently who wanted to apply to revoke a placement order regarding her child. The test for this is that you must demonstrate you have made changes to your life that would justify revoking this order. The Judge wanted to hear directly from my client about the changes she had made - and they were quite impressive, considering her previous history.

She stood up and read out large chunks from the Forced Adoption webiste about how her son had been treated as a 'commodity' by the LA who stood to make a large amount of money from his adoption. I watched as the light of interest drained from the Judge's eyes. Her application was refused.

We sorely need an intelligent, informed and honest debate. Particularly as Gove is now off on one saying the threshold for removal needs to be LOWER.

This is the debate we need to be having. JH ought to be putting his muscle as an MP into this sort of thing, which does have the potential to be very damaging to many families and will result in many more children being removed.

But no, its much more fun to talk about conspiracy theories and 'take cases to Europe'.

Did you make much in your blog of the European decision involving the Re P case JH? Not quite what you were hoping for, I think.

Xenia Sun 18-Nov-12 07:06:16

I don't think most of us are against the whole system and we know most social workers do a good job. It is more a question of making a few fundamental changes - taking a view that public justice even if it exposes private information is on the whole better than secrecy.

Secondly many fewer or no adoptions and perhaps only adoption when both parents and all grandparents uncles and aunts together attend court and make it clear they are happy for it to go ahead and the child agrees.

Thirdly,emotional abuse not to be grounds to remove a child ever just physical.

Those are just a few random changes that would help.

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 18-Nov-12 07:37:51

In many child protection cases, the grandparents involved have failed to protect their children from abuse or bring them up in a way that makes them less vulnerable to an abusive relationship. Or even colluded in abuse. Or even abused their own children. Then these children go on to have children who come to the attention of SS. Do you really think that these grandparents are suitable guardians to raise yet another generation of children? Because that's often the reality.

Of course grandparents and wider family should be considered before adoption, and I believe they usually are. But often the concerns about the parents are often played out across the wider family too, hence the need to look outside that circle for a new "forever family".

And "forever" doesn't mean "no contact ever with the birth family again". Most adopted children now have some kind of contact with key family members (parents, siblings, grandparents...) by letter a couple of times a year, and in some circumstances face to face. And when the child is 18 they can receive all the paperwork on their birth family, so they can make contact if they want.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 07:43:57

"emotional abuse not to be grounds to remove a child ever just physical"
Again, going from what little I know, emotional abuse to a child can be vicious, intense,and prolonged, and largely unseen to the outside world. The mental damage done to that child can last a lifetime. Why wouldnt you want a child removed from that extremely harmful situation?

Xenia, with respect, other family members such as aunts, uncles, and grandparents to a child taken into care, often have very unstable lives themselves. Not all obviously, but, again, only from what I have seen, a large number of them do.
Even if they are suitable, they may not be willing as it would upset or annoy their siblings for example. Also their own partners may not be willing. In fact, there are a lot of reasons why often family members are not willing or able to do it,. They may have their own mental issues, lots of their own children already, or just dont feel able to cope.

Agree with you, on courts being more open to the public. Or at least perhaps to say a panel of 12, in a way,like a jury service?
I personally have just about no knowledge of this bit, perhaps it is done already?

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 07:46:17

Families, is it true that all children when 18, can get all the paperwork?
Also,am I right in thinking that for eg some legal reasons, they do not get it all, or have access to it all.

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 18-Nov-12 08:03:05

amillionyears, we're some way off our (adopted) DD turning 18, so I don't know from personal experience. But we were told that she would get the full file, containing all the paperwork they hold, even potentially distressing material regarding the decisions to remove then place her for adoption. And anything from the birth family that they had sent but was unsuitable so hadn't been forwaded to us at the time. I imagine paperwork involving siblings, for example, would either be withheld or redacted to protect their privacy.

JaquelineHyde Sun 18-Nov-12 08:25:57

Devora I think in the case of my dh's ex and her children the failing was the system regardless of individual. She was able to get lost within the system too easily and then when she was 'on the radar' she manipulated the system with ease using the often naive point of view that all children are better off with their biological mothers.

With my sister the failings I believe were two fold firstly inexperienced and time pressured social workers made judgements prior to full assessments being completed (the judgement being that my neice would be removed from my sister and placed with my Mum under special Guardianship) and then manipulated the system to ensure that that outcome happened. It is happening again with my sisters unborn child and we have no doubt that the baby will be removed at birth and placed with my Mum whilst SG is sorted through the courts.

Once again I must stress that the end outcome in both the cases have been the best outcomes (my sisters dd removed and now under SG with my Mum and my DD's removed from their Mum and placed with my DH, whilst her twins returned to their father and her eldest son was adopted at his request she is not allowed to see any of them) despite mistakes having been made.

As a new SW going into the system I know that I will use my life experience to ensure my practice is of the highest standard, however, I do have concerns for those SWers that come into the system with no life experience to draw on because I can see how easy it would be to make judgements with no understanding of the bigger picture.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 08:28:23

Can I just ask,respectfully, FamiliesShareGerms,that you try to post a little bit more careful.
I am aware that people also lurk, and this subject is very upsetting to some poeple.
So "And when the child is 18 they can receive all the paperwork on their birth family, so they can make contact if they want", is probably a bit wrong. Dont know for sure, but I think it might be.

JaquelineHyde Sun 18-Nov-12 08:36:39

Hummingbirds Quite simply no I don't agree. I believe that a relationship/bond with a particular person/s is key to the emotional development of a baby, particularly when we consider everything we now know about attachment and it's effect accross the lifespan of an individual. However, I do not believe for one minute that this bond/relationship has to be provided by the biological mother. It could be the father, grandparents, other family members, a secure foster placement or an adoptive family.

As far as breastfeeding is concerned this is surely a sign that you are grasping at straws. We all know that breastmilk is what is best for a newborn child's nutrition, why on earth would I argue that point? However, I believe that the safety of a child trumps the requirement for breast milk every time. I don't think that even the most passionate breastfeeding advocate could argue that point.

If I have missed the point you are trying to make about breastfeeding then please do correct me and I will be happy to discuss this further but I am really quite baffled that you believe that putting a child in danger is worth it as long as the mother breast feeds confused

johnhemming Sun 18-Nov-12 08:56:22

There is a lot here. One person raised the case of RP v The UK where I am discussing with her and her brother applying to the grand chamber.

This is a case where a mother was deemed by the system to not have the capacity to instruct a solicitor. Hence the official solicitor came in and conceded the case on her behalf.

It happens to be that her GP and a second expert believe that she does not have a significant learning disability and does have the capacity to instruct a solicitor. However, the case has gone all the way to the ECtHR without this being spotted.

That worries me. I have met her and I don't think she has a significan learning disability and it is quite obvious she does not hit the masterman lister threshold for the appointment of a litigation friend (not a mackenzie friend).

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 18-Nov-12 10:06:44

amillionyears, I apologise if I've posted anything insensitive. I know it's an upsetting subject (as well as our adoption experience, I have family experience of the other side of the coin).

Maybe there was a missing word in my sentence, so it should have been "when the child turns 18 they can receive all the relevant paperwork on their birth family", as I'm sure that there may be some papers relating to birth family that are not relevant to the adoption process.

If I'm still missing something, please tell me.

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 10:32:42

Amillionyears, so far as I understand it, there is now an adoption register where the birth parents can leave their contact details. When the child is 18 it is thus his or her choice to contact them. Children have 'life story work' before they are adopted and will have photos of all significant birth family members - if they are willing to provide them. Some refuse. Adoptions are not 'closed' anymore. There is usually some form of post adoption contact but I accept this is most likely to be indirect, via letter once or twice a year.

Xenia obviously lives in a world where children are only taken into care because one member of a wide and loving family has a problem, such as drug addiction. I would like to know how she would organise a family group conference with three generations of child sex abusers and drug addicts. Because sadly, that is the reality for a lot of children in the system. they just don't have a lovely apple cheeked granny or burly uncle to step in and help.

It is a legal obligation upon LA to consider family first.

I agree that emotional abuse can be devastating and have far more harmful and longterm consequences than breaking a child's leg, for eg. People who don't understand this need to read a little more widely about the impact on a child's emotional development of being ignored, belittled etc. And it is rarely the only factor in a case. It usually goes hand in hand with neglect and/or physical abuse.

And what people need to remember about JH is that this is the man who without any evidence, accused a solicitor of fabricating letters in a file and lying to her client mother about why she was represented by the Official Solicitor. JH has spent a great deal of time and energy taking this to the European Court, where his arguments were dismissed.

All that time and energy would be rather better spent dealing with the obvious problems rearing there heads now - the cuts to services that support struggling families, the fact that Gove expresses such troubling views etc, etc.

I whole heartedly agree with the poster on another thread a while back who pondered whether or ot the motivations behind these (largely male) agitators against the 'system' was that they wished to preserve the family as a stamping ground for male abusers. I.e. The state, by wishing to intervene was a threat to the continued power of such men.

johnhemming Sun 18-Nov-12 10:45:40

>JH is that this is the man who without any evidence, accused a solicitor of
>fabricating letters in a file and lying to her client mother about why she was
>represented by the Official Solicitor.
More rubbish from Spero.

This is what I said in parliament here:
In England and Wales, the situation is materially worse, primarily because secrecy of the judicial system has allowed widespread malpractice to develop, as revealed last week by Professor Jane Ireland’s report on psychological expert reports. A good example of that is Rachel Pullen’s case, which is currently grinding through the Strasbourg court. Her daughter was removed and adopted, although there were no hearings at which any of the evidence was challenged, because the psychologist appointed to assess her deemed her too stupid to instruct a solicitor. That was clearly not true, as was determined by a later psychological report. However, it was too late. The psychologist said she was incapable of instructing a solicitor. The Official Solicitor came in as her litigation friend and conceded the case against her on paper and there was no hearing. At her appeal, I made two important points for which the court criticised me.

My first point was that the system allows the local authority to veto the appointment of an expert, thus making the expert financially beholden to the local authority. Professor Ireland’s report revealed that the overwhelming majority of experts in the family courts made most, if not all, their income from writing expert reports. Parents only instruct an expert once, but the local authority does so continually. That creates a complacent environment in which experts frequently write the report the local authority would wish to see—well, those experts who drive Ferraris, Porsches and Formula 1 motor cars do anyway.

My second point referred to a letter from the Official Solicitor to Rosleys solicitors. I expressed the view that the letter was created at a later stage and inserted in the file. It was obvious from the letter that whoever did that did not have access to Rosleys office, as there was no received stamp on it, no headed paper was used for its purported sending out, its address format was unusual and the date of receipt and purported posting out was impossible. The court decided that my mentioning those facts was not providing evidence and was critical of my claim. I stand by my claim, and I believe that what I have just said is indeed evidence of forgery. Real problems remain with the appointment of litigation friends. The Rosleys letter was supposed to explain to someone that the Official Solicitor had been appointed as their litigation friend, which is why the letter was so important.

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 10:55:02

It's not rubbish. I could link again to the judgment, but I am on my iPad and technology defeats me. If anyone is interested, do a search on threads her, there is loads of the same stuff over and over the same old tired ground.

The point for me is that JH seems to spend an inordinate amount of time, early in the mornings and late at night on websites such as this, peddling the same conspiracy theories.

As an MP with several families to support I am amazed the he has the time.

I can only conclude he gets more personal enjoyment out of his self proclaimed role of crusader then he would from doing the job he is paid for out of public funds.

I wish it was possible to have a debate about the issues that matter without all this conspiracy hokum constantly being thrown about. Sadly, it would appear that it isn't as this must be now the 999th thread that gets sucked into responding to JH and his amazing swerving arguments.

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 18-Nov-12 10:55:34

"experts who drive formula 1 cars"??!! Really, JohnHemming? Or a slight exaggeration?

johnhemming Sun 18-Nov-12 11:10:29

I was criticised by the court of appeal yes, but my detailed response to the criticism is as above.

Here is a copy of the judgment:

I believe only one expert drove a formula 1 car. The point is that a number of them make large sums of money from their activities. There are some very good experts. There are also others whose work is "poor or very poor" - see the Ireland report.

Generally the people who suffer from the low standard work are politically weak and their suffering gets ignored.

Xenia Sun 18-Nov-12 11:46:17

The experts are certainly an area we need to look into to ensure there is no bias.

Most of all all systems need checks and balances. No one is saying social workers don't on the whole work hard and plenty do good work and we need them but there needs to be more openness and a few changes and additional rights for parents.

We need more of justice being seen to be done rather than just done (and of course we hope injustice is never done).

Xenia Sun 18-Nov-12 11:57:48

On the Slovak case from today's Sunday Telegraph
I am not sure it is won if it's still to go to the Supreme Court though.

" Slovaks win out over the child-snatchers

All last week I was waiting on tenterhooks for the verdict of the Court of Appeal on as murky a case of child-snatching as I have ever reported. The case had only got up to the Court of Appeal because of the intervention of the Slovakian government, which had expressed its concern at how many Slovak children have been seized by British social workers “for no sound reason”.

This harrowing story began two years ago when two young boys were forcibly removed from their Slovak parents, who had been working for some years in England. The reasons for their removal could quickly have been shown to be wholly groundless, had a crucial piece of photographic evidence been allowed to be questioned in court. Even so, at one point in a story that involved dozens of lawyers, social workers, “experts” and official carers, it seemed that the children were about to be handed back to the care of their grandmother in Slovakia. But the council was determined to hang on to them and persuaded another judge to rule that they should be put out for adoption.

The case has caused a huge stir in Slovakia, with television coverage and demonstrations in the streets. Nine days ago, thanks to the involvement of the Slovak government and John Hemming MP, the appeal court ruled that the boys should be handed to their grandmother. Lord Justice Thorpe told the family “you have won”, and asked for everyone to return last Tuesday to report on the arrangements made for the handover. But still the local authority refused to give up, hiring a QC to work over the weekend on a case for the boys to be kept in England. Again the hearing had to be adjourned.

Finally, on Friday, two judges confirmed that the children should be returned. But a third said that the council should be allowed to spend thousands of pounds more on appealing to the Supreme Court. If and when those children at last arrive in Slovakia, I look forward to reporting this story in full, because it reveals so much of how, behind its self-protective wall of secrecy, our “child protection” system too often actually works. "

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 12:08:58

What is interesting is that Xenia talks of 'additional rights for parents'. And I struggle to recall where JH has ever expressed concern about the rights of the child in any case in which he gets involved.

Parents already have shed loads of rights, in both domestic and international law. These are the rights Gove wants to chip away at, so I remain surprised no comment made about him.

A child is vulnerable and utterly at the mercy of the adults caring for him or her. So on the seesaw of 'protecting the child' and 'protecting the parents's rights' it is surely understandable that the seesaw will tip more towards the child.

And I don't have a problem with that.

I do have a problem with experts like Hibbert who drive flash cars and who do appear to need urgent investigation. Not only because this does have serious potential to cause injustice but also because it allows people like Booker and Hemming to continue peddling their conspiracy theories.

johnhemming Sun 18-Nov-12 13:09:30

I have always taken the view that Article 8 is a better approach than the Children Act.

The problem with English family law for care proceedings is that it approaches the issue from the perspective of whether or not the S31 threshold is exceeded (which is a low threshold in practise). Then after that point the authorities do what they feel like.

This gives almost no value to the birth family and it should not be surprising that a very low proportion of the children leaving care under 5 (care defined as an order of something not S20) return to their parents.

The question, of course, is what is better for the children. Often being in a wealthier family will result in better outcomes. However, we should not really be in a situation where the local authority takes control of children giving them to what the local authority thinks are better parents.

If you listen to adult adoptees, for example, there are quite a few who are unhappy with what the system has done to them as well as there being some such as Michael Gove who are quite pleased.

Xenia Sun 18-Nov-12 14:19:49

Without knowing that detail that is certainly how it has always appeared to me - dead easy to intervene; could just about make a case to any of us to remove our children if they wanted; far too much discretion and things done in too much secrecy. We certainly need a lot more people lobbying and being interested in these issues and a group of so many mothers like mumsnet is a great place to start.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 15:39:23

FamiliesShareGerms, apology accepted.
My concern about your post was about possible factual errors. I am aware that many MNetters lurk, and I didnt want them to think that all their pre adopted details would necessarily be in their files.
I think I am right in saying, that some things are left out of files. I could be wrong.
As far as I know, for those fostered anyway, and especially if they have special needs, they may get a carefully worded shortened version.

Lilka Sun 18-Nov-12 15:48:23

The threshold is anything but low. It's crazy how long some children are left in very poor conditions because there's not quite enough evidence to take them into care, despite living in filth and being neglected. I appreciate the bar has to be high, but it's very sad reading children's information where they had been left for years but not removed till some kind of crisis happened, by which time neglect and abuse has left a permanent and devastating mark on the child

My eldest has seen information from her files btw, as well as having her birth certificate. The information is there for her, not in it's entirety, but a lot of it, and enough to to give a very good picture. Every adoptee has the absolute right to get their birth certificate when they come of age, and they should also be able to see the relevent information from their files pertaining to why they were in care and their placement history etc

I'm not opposed to some level of openness in the court system - we already have some public judgements from the high court, which make for sobering reading, the press have had rights to attend certain hearings for a few years now. I'm open to discussion on what a good level of openness is. However, I do not agree that the details of every single case should be public with all details except names/addresses etc (like the high court judgements are now). This is the childs private life story, it's potentially very distressing and to have the public able to read your entire early life story is a horrible breach of privacy IMO. That's not something most adult adoptee's would want either IMHO

Devora Sun 18-Nov-12 16:40:17

I don't believe the threshold is too low. I think there are way too many children leading lives of unimaginable misery, with little or inadequate intervention.

I do believe that the system gets it wrong sometimes and I do believe that there are miscarriages of injustice. I also believe that there are cases where, if earlier and more appropriate support was provided, families could stay together.

But that doesn't make the threshold too low. Just sometimes wrongly applied.

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 17:42:36

The people who believe it is 'easy' to remove children are either those on the conspiracy bandwagon, for whatever reason or those whose knowledge of the system comes from the Daily Mail on line.

There is ample case law to say that the courts must not permit social engineering and as a civilised society we have to tolerate broad standards of parenting, from the brilliant to the barely adequate.

What I see day in day out is parenting that slips way below the 'barely adequate'. And these children are left in these kind of situations for far too long.

What puzzles me is why it accepted that in some professions - say Parliament perhaps - there are many examples of stupidity and criminality from individuals within the system yet no one ( unless David Icke) says the whole system is corrupt and ruled by lizards.

Yet in the family law system, any failing, any individual act of stupidity or less than perfect social work practice is held up as an example of the corrupt system that is engineered to steal babies foe the middle class..

I would be very pleased if fora like these could help those such as Xenia reach a better understanding of the system. Perhaps she could start by spending half an hour on and browsing the many hundreds of reported cases which set out clearly the kind of circumstances children face and with which courts must deal.

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 17:45:42

For example, a case always worth perusing for those with a genuine interest in how the system operates, and how John Hemming choses to conduct himself within this system can be found at

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 18:08:04

Spero, I have just tried to read the above link.
Far too difficult for me to read and understand.
Could you summurise please or point in the general direction of the important bits?

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 18:15:04

A woman's child was taken into care.
She was represented by the Official Solicitor as she was found not to have the ability to given instructions to her solicitor.
John Hemming appeared in court and said that the woman's solicitor was lying when she claimed to have explained what was happening to the mother.
He alleged that the solicitor had forged letters on the file.
He alleged that the whole family law system was 'corrupt' and 'evil'.

This has always been, for me, the most interesting part of the judgment.

85. Over the period during which this judgment has been reserved, I have, of course, carefully considered Mr Hemming's interventions in this part of the case, and I have re-read the files. Having done so, the feeling of incredulity which I experienced on 4 March has not diminished.

86. In my judgment, SC's files demonstrate overwhelmingly four clear facts. They are; (1) that RP was fully aware that SC had doubts about her ability to provide instructions; (2) that RP was fully aware that the Official Solicitor was being approached to act on her behalf; (3) that she was fully aware that the Official Solicitor had been appointed, and was representing her; and (4) that she was fully aware of his role in the proceedings. In short, RP's assertion that she did not know the Official Solicitor was acting for her is manifestly unsustainable.

87. Mr. Hemming's response on RP's behalf is that this cannot be so because the file has been interfered with. I have, of course, considered that response with care. It is a profoundly serious allegation. However, it is one for which, in my judgment, there is absolutely no evidence. The only query is the mistaken date on the typed attendance note.

88. I find it not only unacceptable but shocking, that a man in Mr Hemming's position should feel able to make so serious an allegation without any evidence to support it. In my judgment, it is irresponsible and an abuse of his position. Unfortunately, as other aspects of this judgment will make clear, it is not the only part of the case in which Mr Hemming has been willing to scatter unfounded allegations of professional impropriety and malpractice without any evidence to support them.

89. I can simply see no reason why the file should not be taken at face value as accurately reflecting what occurred. The file simply reflects and records the actions of a solicitor doing her best to represent a disadvantaged client. I can see absolutely no reason why SC should have made false entries on the file and no reason why she should not have forwarded the Official Solicitor's letter of 11 December and the explanatory leaflet to her client. I ask myself the very simple question: why should she behave in this manifestly unprofessional way? In the crude phrase: what was in it for her? The answer to the second question is, of course, nothing.

90. In my judgment, any suggestion that SC has interfered with the file can be rejected out of hand. There is no reason to take the file at anything other than face value. I therefore have no hesitation in rejecting RP's claims on this part of the case.

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 18:18:20

Wall LJ identifies the crucial question, which in a variety of forms, I have been putting to JH and his friends ever since.

WHY would social workers lie and cheat to 'steal' children? What is in it for them?

The answer came back that the government pays money to LA if they meet 'adoption quotas'.

I explain that this is a misunderstanding of what used to happen - LA were encouraged to find adoptive placements for children ALREADY in care as when Tony Blair became PM he was horrified to learn how long many children spent in care and he wanted permanent families found.

So, I explain that the baby snatching quota is a particularly dangerous figment of their imagination and now, would they please explain WHY SW lie and cheat to achieve their aim of removing children from loving and blameless parents?

Two, nearly three years on, I am still waiting for the answer to that question.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 18:48:48

Thank you for that summing up. You saved me a lot of difficult reading!

The judge in that case does indeed paint Mr Hemmings in a bad light.

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 18:52:53

Sorry, I should have realised that is an unusally long and quite turgid judgment. There are some pithier ones. Seriously, if anyone does worry about 'what goes on', please don't taken JH and Booker at face value, I think you would be mostly reassured by what you read in the judgments.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 18:53:52

I have a bit more problem with your 2nd post.
To my mind, trust has to be earned.
I am of the opinion that there will be some people doing bad behaviours in any walk of profession and life.
Therefore I could not rule out that there will be indeed a isolated few sws who are not working in the best interests of the child or its parents.

btw, are there still "adoption quotas", or was that a myth?

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 19:02:46

amillionyears, I totally agree with you. There are some awful social workers out there. I have met a few. There are some rubbish lawyers. There are some arrogant, complacent experts. There are some judges who get it badly wrong - and who are appealed.

Any system operated by fallible human beings will make mistakes. Mistakes are so awful in this field because they can't be put right. You cannot remove a child from an adoptive placement and return him or her to parents after years. Those parents are now strangers.

But the system is not corrupt. It does NOT operate to quotas to 'steal' children.

Tony Blair was very keen to encourage LA to find adoptive placements for children ALREADY taken from their parents and in the care system. I think there were financial rewards for LA's who placed these children. There never have and never will be any financial rewards for taking babies in order to have them adopted. Removing a child is a fantastically expensive exercise, which explains why 95% of my cases involve children who have been left for many months if not years in really horrible situations.

And yet, so far has the poison spread by JH seeped into general conciousness, I have lots of clients who tell me in all seriousness that there child has been taken into care 'to make the LA money'. I asked one client how the LA was 'making money' from his son when it was going to cost them about £30K to foster him over a year. He could not answer. But this kind of magical thinking enabled him not to have to think about the real reason why his child was gone - his drinking, his violence - because of course, to confront that is terribly painful and difficult and he had a miserable upbringing himself after beatings from his own birth father (he was taken into care as a baby then returned! then back in care from six years old...)

This is a shorter judgment but very interesting - parents who failed to treat their daughter's asthma effectively. This kind of think usually gets JH very wound up about unjustified state interference, but you can see just how damaging the parents' actions were to their daughter

claig Sun 18-Nov-12 19:13:15

Spero, with all your experience in the system, do you think that there are no failings of the system itself? Did you support Labour's cash for councils policies over adoption when it was in existence? Do you think that that policy was a mistake?

You mentioned a client of yours
'It will probably not interest JH but I had a client recently who wanted to apply to revoke a placement order regarding her child. The test for this is that you must demonstrate you have made changes to your life that would justify revoking this order. The Judge wanted to hear directly from my client about the changes she had made - and they were quite impressive, considering her previous history.

She stood up and read out large chunks from the Forced Adoption webiste about how her son had been treated as a 'commodity' by the LA who stood to make a large amount of money from his adoption. I watched as the light of interest drained from the Judge's eyes. Her application was refused.'

As your client, did you advise her that criticising the LA might not be the best thing to do, and that she should have concentrated on the changes she had made which as you say "were quite impressive"?

'I watched as the light of interest drained from the Judge's eyes. Her application was refused.'

Is that the way it should be when a parent fights for their child?

You must be aware of cases like the following? Do they not just indicate failures of individuals but also some injustices and failures of the system too?

You keep trying to paint John Hemming as a 'conspiracy theorist', but I haven't seen him saying that the whole system is a conspiracy, jut that there are flaws in the system and it needs to be more open in order to prevent injustice.

claig Sun 18-Nov-12 19:28:26

'or those whose knowledge of the system comes from the Daily Mail on line.'

Have you never wondered why it is nearly always only the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph who report on these type of injustices and throw light on some things that occur in the system?

They do say because they provide a voice for ordinary people to whom injustices have been done and for the sake of others in future to whom injustice may be done. Individuals powerless against the system, whose voice goes unheard. Those people rely on the help of good MPs like John Hemming who spend their time in helping ordinary people get justice.

All systems have failures, and thankfully we have some good MPs who fight to do something about these failures, who fight to improve the system and provide justice for ordinary people.

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 19:29:41

JH repeatedly describes the entire system as 'corrupt' and 'evil'. He refuses to dissasociate himself from those such as Ian Joseph who say even worse things. So I include him in the conspiracy theorists camp.

If my client could have told the judge about the changes she had made to her life, he might have granted her application. But she chose to spend her time in court reading out parts of the Forced Adoption website which painfully and immediately underscored just how little understanding she had as to why her child was removed.

That's why JH and his friends make me so angry. Because people like her are told that nothing is ever down to them, nothing is ever their responsibility, instead all the fault is with the SW or expert who 'lied'.

Individuals within a system do stupid things. That does not make a system corrupt. The system is inefficient, underfunded and close to break down. That's what we need to understand and deal with.

The Websters case is a very stark example of why mistakes in this field really matter. They didn't get their children back. But remember one of their chi,dfen had unexplained broken bones. It turned out later that he had scurvy! The doctors missed it because they had never seen a case of scurvy before. You can criticise the doctors for negligent failure to diagnose. But how does this make a system 'corrupt'? What else could a court do when faced with a child with broken bones and no explanation?

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 19:33:21

Sorry, didn't answer your question about 'cash for councils'. I think any policy that encourges finding families for children in care is a good one. Outcomes for children in care are bad. Every child deserves a family, a place where they know they matter.

claig Sun 18-Nov-12 19:39:04

And as for people who knock John Hemming for coming on Mumsnet and communicating with millions of readers, that is exactly what MPs as representatives of the people should be doing.

He doesn't come on on one of these invited 1 hour Mumsnet publicity chat sessions that other MPs use as they near re-election. He comes on and communicates in order to inform and discuss important issues, without any thought about re-election.

If only more MPs spent their time communicating with the public like that.

If you disagree with him, then debate it, but do so wuth a little less abuse.

claig Sun 18-Nov-12 19:41:19

'But she chose to spend her time in court reading out parts of the Forced Adoption website which painfully and immediately underscored just how little understanding she had as to why her child was removed.'

Weren't you aware of what she was going to say? Didn't you ask her what she would say? Didn't you help her prepare?

johnhemming Sun 18-Nov-12 19:42:26

>JH repeatedly describes the entire system as 'corrupt' and 'evil'.
I have "repeatedly" said that not all of the people working in the system are corrupt. There are good judges, good (other) lawyers and good experts. There are even good social workers.

Still you (Spero) misrepresent my arguments.

claig Sun 18-Nov-12 19:43:06

'Sorry, didn't answer your question about 'cash for councils'. I think any policy that encourges finding families for children in care is a good one.'

But didn't Labour eventually change the policy? Did they realise that it was a mistake?

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 19:46:22

Of course I advised my client! But I can't force her to understand! I can't make her see that it wasn't a 'little bit of drinking that everyone does' that got her into difficulties

When she reads on the Internet, and hears people like JH saying her lawyers are likely to be corrupt and in the pay of the LA, little wonder she won't listen to me and turns to bollocks on the Internet.

Very very sad.

And if pointing out why JH is wrong and why I disagree with him is 'abuse' then I am afraid I have got bad news for you about the next couple of threads on this topic. They arise with delightful regularity.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 19:47:32

As someone who has some previous experience of the foster care system, up to 5 years ago, and very little experience of the adoption system, I am trying to make a little sense out of all of this.
I started off on the fence on this thread.
Then more towards johnhemmings pov, partly because of the woman on This Morning, Denise something, who always appeared to me to be very sensible.
Now I have veered towards Speros pov.
claig [who I have come across occasionally on other threads,and seemed to be reasonably sensible],if you dont mind me asking, and I am a bit wincing as I write this, you seem to be on the side of johnhemmings. What do you make for instance of the judge's judgement in the case above that Spero quoted in detail?

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 19:48:14

So JH, what IS the motivation behind SW who take older children into care?

You said once 'because they want to win'. Is that still your belief?

claig Sun 18-Nov-12 19:49:09

'But how does this make a system 'corrupt'?'

No one is saying that the system is corrupt, just that it needs to be improved.

'Yet last Wednesday, Lord Justices Wall, Moore-Bick and Wilson concluded that the Websters, from Cromer, Norfolk, are ‘too late’ to appeal to clear their names and that the ‘peculiar finality’ of adoption means it is not in their power to overturn the order.'

'In his lengthy explanation of his reasons for denying the Websters’ application, Lord Justice Wall describes the council’s ‘belated recognition that they are fit and able to care for Brandon’, as, ‘the only mitigation from [the Websters’] point of view’.
He writes: ‘The children concerned have been denied the opportunity to argue that they should grow up together with their parents as a family. That is deeply worrying...'

In all spheres of life, we learn lessons and make improvements. What is unique about this system that prevents improvement?

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 19:49:31

x post by about 6 posts. Sorry, it took me a while to formulate the words.

claig Sun 18-Nov-12 19:57:08

'you seem to be on the side of johnhemmings. What do you make for instance of the judge's judgement in the case above that Spero quoted in detail?'

I don't know about the judge's summing up. I don't know enough about it and would have to look into it and try and understand it etc.

But in general I am always on the side of MPs who stand up for the rights of ordinary, voiceless people against powerful people and powerful systems. That is why in general, of the little I know about it, I am for MPs like John Hemming and Tom Watson. I doubt they get everything right, but my gut feeling is that they do a lot of good and are often the only people who help ordinary people get justice.

I believe that all systems and bureaucracies and organisations contain flaws and often do not listen to ordinary, vulnerable and voiceless people. Anyone who tips teh balance in the favour of the public, I support.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 20:11:05

I can see where you are coming from.
I feel that there are flaws in that argument, but cant think of any right now.
Am also trying to think of people who have acted like that and got it wrong, but again, cant think of any right now.

claig Sun 18-Nov-12 20:20:18

People can get things wrong. The world is not black and white. But it is about doing good and fighting injustice and providing a voice for ordinary people. It is about balance. We need to support people who question powerful bureaucrcies and powerful systems. Even if they don't get everything right, they are trying to do what is right.

For 40 years there were rumours about Savile and nothing was done. There were flaws in the system - a system that actually knighted him. Now there are numerous inquiries looking into what went wrong and hopefully changes will be made and lessons learned.

John Hemming has said that threatening whistleblowers should be outlawed.

That will allow lowly employees to inform the public of flaws in systems and that will help prevent injustices being done to ordinary people.

No system is perfect, everything should be questioned and looked at, nothing is beyond criticism. Systems that cannot stand criticism and scrutiny are not in the best interests of the public.

The public pays for all these systems, which is why they should be open to scrutiny and to change if they contain flaws.

johnhemming Sun 18-Nov-12 20:21:19

>So JH, what IS the motivation behind SW who take older children into care?
I have not said all decisions are are wrong.
Secondly most of the teenage decisions are S20.

claig Sun 18-Nov-12 20:29:05

'The Judge wanted to hear directly from my client about the changes she had made - and they were quite impressive, considering her previous history.

She stood up and read out large chunks from the Forced Adoption webiste about how her son had been treated as a 'commodity' by the LA who stood to make a large amount of money from his adoption. I watched as the light of interest drained from the Judge's eyes. Her application was refused.'

How does it work? Does she have a right of appeal? Can she state her case again to the judge, but this time leave out attacks on the system, so that the light of interest will not drain from the judge's eyes?

Are there any independent bodies that parents can turn to in these cases? Presumably John Hemming alone cannot handle all of the cases? Shouldn't there be an independent body that can appeal on behalf of parents or is there already?

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 20:32:55

'But in general I am always on the side of MPs who stand up for the rights of ordinary, voiceless people against powerful people and powerful systems. That is why in general, of the little I know about it, I am for MPs like John Hemming and Tom Watson. I doubt they get everything right, but my gut feeling is that they do a lot of good and are often the only people who help ordinary people get justice.'

I have already given you a number of examples where JH does NOT do good. But your gut feeling is more important? Well, I can't argue with or reason with a 'gut feeling'.

Read Ian Joseph's website and ask yourself - why will JH not dissaociate himself from this man? Interestingly, I have just tried to google and link you to his infamous 'golden rules' where he advises parents NOT to co-operate with SW even where their child alleges sexual abuse. He seems to have removed that one now. How interesting.

And why will JH repeatedly fail to answer simple questions? Do you still believe that SW remove children because 'they want to win'.

johnhemming Sun 18-Nov-12 20:33:26

>Shouldn't there be an independent body that can appeal on behalf of parents or is there already?
In theory there are solicitors that can help. Many, however, depend upon Local Authorities for much of their income and hence are not independent.

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 20:38:49

Claig - re my client.

Extremely competent solicitors had drafted her application and her statement. The Judge then wanted to hear from her directly.

That is what sunk her. I can't leap up and gag her in court. I spent several hours with her prior to this fiasco discussing what was likely to happen. I had no idea that she was going to take out several pages printed off the Forced Adoption website. If she had asked me for advice on that , I would have explaind clearly and in detail why this was such an appallingly bad idea.

Her child was removed because she was an alcholic and could not convince anyone she had insight into her condition and could thus improve in time to meet her child's needs.

She has a right to ask the Court of Appeal to overturn his decision but she has no grounds and an appeal cannot succeed. The judge concluded that the changes she had made were not enough and were not likely to be sustained. He was entirely within his rights to do this after hearing from her.

This is why JH makes me angry. He DOES NOT HELP people like this. He enjoys the self agrandisement, feeling important. He is not remotely interested in any of the issues which are causing real harm to families. I repeat - cuts to services that provided support to struggling families, cuts to court services. We need more social workers. We need more judges and more court time. What is he doing to agitate for change in any of this?

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 20:42:38

Just noticed JH post below. Anyone who works for a LA unlikely to be independent! What absolute nonsense.

I work for LA, parents and Guardians. Would you like to tell me why I am unlikely to be independent JH? Just what is it that you are accusing me of? Going soft on the LA so that they instruct me again? Complete, utter, offensive nonsense. A direct slur on my professionalism and that of countless others.

But we have been on this merry go round before. But do you see why clients find it difficult to work with their lawyers when they are told they are not independent?

claig Sun 18-Nov-12 20:47:08

'He is not remotely interested in any of the issues which are causing real harm to families'

So if children are wrongfully removed from their families does no real harm to families? I suppose you think that Norman Lamb MP was also not helping the Webster family by taking up their case and talking to Jack Straw about it. Your ordinary person can't get to speak to the Home Secretary about injustices. They are fortunate to have MPs to take up their case.

John Hemming is not the Home Secreatry, he can't sort everything out, but he can help to fight for justice for some people who need help.

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 20:51:58

Like I said, I can't argue with a 'gut feeling'. You admit you know 'little' about it, but are prepared to accept nothing I say.

I do not agree that JH waving flags for the likes of Vicky Haigh is 'helping' the 'little person'.

I think he has found a band wagon and jumped aboard. I think he does real damage to vulnerable families. I think he puts vulnerable children at risk of harm. He advises people to leave the jurisdicdtion rather than co-operate with Social Services. As you may have read, he is quite happy to raise allegations of extreme seriousness against others without a shred of evidence to justify it.

So we will have to agree to disagree and I will have to keep banging my lonely drum in the vain hope that someone is reading this who needs to know that they should not blindly follow what JH says simply because he is an MP.

claig Sun 18-Nov-12 20:56:41

John Hemming says that the system has good people working for it and they do good work, but he also says that there are flaws in the system and that injustices occur.

You, on the other hand, seem to think that John Hemming does no good at all, and do not seem to accept that any of the people he helps have suffered any injustice.

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 21:01:23

He is rowing back on this thread quite a bit from things he has said before.

Which is great, because this means he must now agree to dissoaciate himself from Ian Josephs and remove him from his website.

Is that right John?

Still waiting to hear why I am not 'likely' to be independent.

I have never said that people don't suffer injustice. They do. But not because of a system that is inherently corrupt and 'evil' - JH uses this word A LOT.

If he has genuinely changed his mind and is prepared to say so on his website, and cut all links with the Forced Adoption lot, I would be very pleased and hopeful for the future.

Perhaps he could confirm this himself.

claig Sun 18-Nov-12 21:07:54

'I have never said that people don't suffer injustice.'

Do you agree that some of the people who write to him for help have suffered injustice?

johnhemming Sun 18-Nov-12 21:33:11

>Still waiting to hear why I am not 'likely' to be independent.

It may surprise you, but you happen to be a barrister. Now there is a problem with anyone who is substantially instructed by one party to a dispute when they are asked to act for another party a dispute.

However, this conflict of interest is much stronger for solicitors than for barristers. If someone is subject to a conflict of interest then they not independent.


You state that I am rowing back from things I have said before. Try citing one of those.

Flatbread Sun 18-Nov-12 21:36:49

Spero, I must say you sound nasty and shrill.

I prefer John's reasoned responses to your rants.

Devora Sun 18-Nov-12 21:41:35

Flatbread, if you had endured several threads of this type, especially the ones in the adoption corner, I think you would feel differently.

Spero is sound as a pound. She is forthright in her attacks on JH, and has always provided plenty of evidence for why she is so.

JH, on the other hand - I just can't past him saying simples.

Devora Sun 18-Nov-12 21:42:17

"Shrill" - a word uniquely reserved for the confident, assertive woman, isn't it?

Flatbread Sun 18-Nov-12 21:51:37

No, a confident person is not shrill, and nor do they need to resort to personal attacks. I have no interest in what went on in previous/other threads, just this one.

I also don't get this thing about 'most social workers being good', with just a few bad apples. How do we know? How do we know the problem is not systemic? How do I, as a member of the public, measure the performance of social workers? Are there any transparent statistics out there?

For hospitals and doctors, in the US at least, there are detailed stats available on their performance, success rates and how these are measured, patient reviews etc. I, as a member of the public, can access these, especially regarding government funded care.

Is there a similar rigorous evaluation of social care and workers which is open to the public? Till then, we simply cannot say how good or not the system is or whether individual workers are good, or powerhungry or jobsworths. We just don't know.

johnhemming Sun 18-Nov-12 21:53:34

>Spero is sound as a pound. She is forthright in her attacks on JH, and has
>always provided plenty of evidence for why she is so.

OK lets have one citation for her claim that I am rowing back from my previous claims. That is in this thread.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 21:53:50

claig and johnhemmings, definitely agree that whistleblowers quite frankly, should be encouraged.

is that the link you are after? Havent read it all yet.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 22:01:44

Agree that there can be conflicts of interest. Perhaps johnhemmings is right on that?
I used to do volunteer work for a childrens charity to do with fostering.
In theory that childrens charity should have been acting solely in the interest of the children, That is what you would expect.
In practice, the higher ups of that childrens charity were afraid to rock the boat too much, because they wanted to keep working there and to rise up throught the ranks. So they kept their mouth sometimes shut, and did not speak out, against for instance social service systems. Nothing too major, but it opened my eyes to the fact that sometimes the childrens' welfare came second place to their salaries and careers.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 22:04:31

Should have said, that I can see the same sort of thing happening within solicitors and barristers.
To be fair though, I know little about either.

claig Sun 18-Nov-12 22:07:49

'Last Wednesday morning, a letter arrived at Mark and Nicky Webster’s house. It was a report of sorts about their five-year-old son, telling them that he was doing well at school, had just learned to ride a bicycle without stabilisers and that he wasn’t fond of sprouts.

The timing could hardly have been more poignant. Such newsletters arrive on their doormat sporadically, as do separate ones relating to his older brother and sister. For Mark and Nicky, they are what passes for ‘contact’ with their three eldest children. They always make agonising reading.'

Can you imagine the heartache? And they have few options to reverse these decisions.

'It is the 1989 Children Act — which introduced a blanket secrecy in the family courts — that is the real culprit. It encouraged a lack of public scrutiny in the child protection system and what MP John Hemming calls the ‘twaddle and psychobabble’ peddled there, which has caused dreadful miscarriages of justice.'

Children claimed they were abused by Savile and in care homes and the system ignored it. Parents say injustices have been done and there are closed courts and no public scrutiny.

One day both of these systems will be changed and open justice will be done, but in the meantime many people will suffer.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 22:11:58

Flatbread,if there are no statistics as you say, then only word of mouth from people you trust could put your mind at ease.
fwiw, and I can only speak about my area, I met or knew of some,for a number of years, up to 5 years ago,and from my limited view, I only really came across one that I had a few concerns about. Though one too many obviously.The rest did come across as caring, and mainly very overworked.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 22:16:40

It seems to me that both sides on here actually agree about a number of things.
That there are injustices, that the system is creaking, that there are miscarriages of justice,that all sws are not perfect, that mistakes are made etc.
That there are also good judges, good lawyers, good experts and good social workers.

claig Sun 18-Nov-12 22:23:50

Yes, and it is not really social workers who are overloaded, it is really the system.

Just as in the BBC, it was not the fault of individial people that Savile was allowed to get away with it - it was the system. People complained to their bosses and told them what they had heard or seen, but things never went further. No one wanted to rock the boat, upset the apple-cart and challenge the system.

Systems, specified and managed from the top, to a great extent determine what goes on and individuals working in a system are often cogs in the wheel and are unable and unwilling to put a spanner in the wheel.

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 22:26:46

We do agree about a lot of things. I think we all agree that the best place for children is with their parents, if their parents can keep them safe. If parents can't keep their children safe, I hope we would all agree that as a society we have a collective duty to keep the vulnerable safe from harm.

Once again, another potentially interesting thread is diverted into responding to JH. I must take my share of responsibilty for this. The problem is, if you don't try to deal with him then he or one of his acolytes will accuse you of not engaging because he is so right.

So I will try not to go down this route too tediously .... BUT - JH do you now claim the child protection system is 'evil'. If you don't will you explicitly dissoaciate yourself from Ian Josephs.

And you haven't remotely begun to explain why you think it is less likely that lawyers are able to act well for clients if they also act for LA. the LA do not pay me to act for parents. The state pays me. You seem to be saying that I won't do a good job for a parent because this might upset the LA and they won't instruct me again?

That is a slur. It is unfounded. It is malicious. I would be grateful if you would retract that.

I don't know how you could sensibly keep statistics about the performance of those in the child protection system. I suppose one way would be to see how many cases were successfully appealed or how many times the UK was rebuked by the European Court. I don't have such statistics at my fingertips but I don't recall a huge amount of European Court rulings that criticise the UK in this field. One of the most famous cases invovled children who successfully sued for damages because they were left too long with abusive parents.

Another extremely sad case, which JH often cites, involves children who were left floating around the system for years. The Independent Reviewing officer in that case admitted he had 'failed' the children, but also pointed out that for years his case load was double what he could sensibly manage.

Amillionyears - no, that isn't the link I was looking for - Ian Joseph until fairly recently had his own seperate website which included some 'golden rules' which were very disturbing. JH links to him as a resource on his own website. I really think he must cut these ties if he wants to be taken seriously in this debate.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 22:36:46

claig, absolutely right.

Flatbread Sun 18-Nov-12 23:33:04

On the emotive subject of child protection, it is very important to evaluate performance based on outcomes data. Rather than hyperbole about 'protecting the children' without any clear measurement of what that actually means.

For example, take a look at this study:

Why can there not be a systemic evaluation of each council, each case worker on the decisions they made, and outcomes for the children, based on factors in the study above? And include satisfaction scores by family members and the children themselves?

It is imperfect, but better than the opaque system today, where 'mistakes are made' but no one seems responsible for their decisions.

andreaDono Mon 19-Nov-12 00:09:17

Yes, there is definitely a need for some children to be put into care but there are thousands that find themselves in care for no sound reason & apparently it's to do with Barnardos charity. More in this video:
And did you know that your children have their finger prints taken at school without us parents knowing anything about it?

Hummingbirds Mon 19-Nov-12 01:01:03

JaquelineHyde ~ The reason I ask about breastfeeding was the case of Fran Lyon. On the morning TV link I included earlier in this thread, she was desperate to feed her baby, she was clearly putting her baby's welfare above her own wellbeing. Yet the Social Services were going to deny her this on spurious grounds of 'potential emotional abuse'. They later did a u-turn.

Do you agree that the Social Services would have caused Fran's baby irreparable harm?

BoneyBackJefferson Mon 19-Nov-12 06:39:29

"And did you know that your children have their finger prints taken at school without us parents knowing anything about it?"

If you are talking about the cashless catering, it is not a fingerprint and the school has to get the parents permission.

claig Mon 19-Nov-12 06:51:28
claig Mon 19-Nov-12 06:53:42

Again, it is not individual teachers or librarians who are forcing this - ot is the system.

Why is it doing it? They say it is for efficiency, others say it is for different reasons.

claig Mon 19-Nov-12 06:58:18

New Labour wanted a biometric DNA database system. They said it was for efficiency and public safety, others say it was for different reasons. Boris Johnson said something like he would shred the ID cards. The Coalition was elected and New Labour never got its way.

claig Mon 19-Nov-12 07:07:36

'Privacy International's director, Simon Davies, said the technology should be banned.
'The use of such systems will have the effect of de-sensitising people to more comprehensive privacy invasion later in life,' he said. 'Such a process has the effect of softening children up for such initiatives as ID cards and DNA testing.'

It sounds like the old policy of train them while they are young. Future plans are probably already in existence. Acclimatising young people to their future makes the future transition easier.

JaquelineHyde Mon 19-Nov-12 07:43:32

Hummingbirds without knowing the case and all the details I cannot possibly comment on whether a child could have suffered longterm damage. Anyone who tried to do this without knowing all the facts would be a naive fool, so if you don't mind I won't comment on that.

I would be interested to know why you refuse to comment on anything else I have said and continue to pedal dangerous assumptions based on the tiniest pieces of information (ie one case).

You are clearly the one with an agenda here who refuses to acknowledge anything outside of this.

Spero Mon 19-Nov-12 08:17:39

Now this is worrying, because Judges are reporting concerns about LA rushing through adoption plans to fit with Gov policy.

So rather than alleging that lawyers are corrupt and SW lie, don't we need to be looking quite long and hard at Gov policy and asking what they are trying to achieve, and why they are doing this at the same time as cutting support services for families in need?

Spero Mon 19-Nov-12 08:24:20

And op, if you are really interested in having a debate about this, read

What I find most interesting is what Fran Lyon says herself
'This is, of course, a sad and difficult case and no one could blame Lyon for taking the action she has. All she wants is to be able to keep her baby when it is born. Similarly, however, the professionals involved – social workers, doctors and the police – should not be castigated for carrying out their statutory duties.

To her credit, and despite the heavy-handed rhetoric of the Sunday Telegraph and Hemming, Lyon appears to share that view. “I don’t believe anybody is in this to cause harm,” she told me. Indeed, she says she has sympathy with the social workers in her case, who “are in an awful situation with an incredibly difficult call to make. All I’m asking is that I’m given a chance to assuage their concerns and fears. Hopefully that isn’t too unreasonable.”

Of course it isn’t. What is unreasonable, however, is that yet again a delicate human story has been hijacked and misrepresented in the name of a vociferous campaign to undermine public confidence in the child protection system.'

amillionyears Mon 19-Nov-12 08:25:48

andreaDono, the link is not working for me.
Can you resend please.

claig Mon 19-Nov-12 08:33:48

Yes, that is a good article. I believe that most people working in the system are good people. I think the flaws are more to do with teh system rather with the workers. People working in the system are influenced by the way the system works - in general they go along with the system.

'Judge David Pearl, a former president of the care standards tribunal and a deputy high court judge, has spent 15 years dealing with care cases. Before he retired as a judge in February, Pearl said he saw a number of cases at the principal registry of the family division and at the high court in which local authorities paid insufficient attention to the needs of individual children whom they wished to get adopted.

"What I think has happened is that local authorities have taken government policy as saying adoption is the only solution," said Pearl, who is now chair of the new Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service. "That can't be right because it ignores the welfare of the individual children involved.

"There are some cases where [adoption] is not in the best interests of the children: where it would be far better for the children to remain in long-term fostering care, with continuing contact with members of their birth family. One of the concerns is that the local authorities are anxious to move towards adoption because it is the cheapest option," he said.'


'Martha Cover, co-chair of the Association of Lawyers for Children, said she was especially concerned about adoptions taking place at the expense of keeping siblings together, because recent research showed that being placed away from siblings was one of the most common reasons for an adoption to break down, with a risk factor of 29%.

"Adoption is the first thing local authorities reach for, even when it means children will have to be separated from their siblings and even when social workers have said that would be enormously damaging to the children," she said.

"This is happening partly because local authorities are under pressure from central government [to increase their number of adoptions] but also because it's the end of the story for them: once adopted, they can close the book on that child."

Is it possible that one reason might be to provide 'the cheapest option' and to 'close the book'?

amillionyears Mon 19-Nov-12 08:40:58

To me, only having briefly looked on this thread, and read some of the links, there seems to be rights and wrongs on both side.

This may be naive to say, but if both sides could work together, perhaps systems would then get changed.

Spero Mon 19-Nov-12 08:45:49

I have no doubt that LA often are pushed towards 'the cheapest option' because they have no other option. Money is being withdrawn from the system. We have just undergone a massive 'modernisation of the family justice system' and been told in no uncertain terms that we must all achieve improvements in effiency with no additional resources at all.

From my perspective, the change that would help most is more available judges and court time. There is the potential for real injustice ito be done to my clients when we have an issue we need the Judge to rule on but the next available court date is not for a number of weeks.

We need more readily available therapy and counselling as large majority of parents in care proceedings need this kind of intervention. But either they have to go on a long NHS waiting list or we have to persuade the LA to pay for expensive treatments - which they are rarely willing to do, because they don't have any spare money.

My worry is however that it just isn't 'sexy' enough to worry about this, far more exciting is to whip up a big Daily Mail conspiracy storm and talk about the hidden agenda behind 'forced adoptions'.

I think we urgently do need a real debate about what we do as a society to protect children. In a nutshell, you get what you pay for. If you campaign against and devalue the child protection system, don't be surprised if the social workers leave in droves and can't be replaced. Don't be surprised if the lawyers like me get fed up being described as lackeys of the state and go off and do something else.

What system will you then end up with?

claig Mon 19-Nov-12 08:46:25

'The number of children adopted in Britain has increased by 6% since last March, according to the Office for National Statistics . Nearly two-thirds of those adopted were aged between one and four, up from 58% the year before.

The proportions of adoptions of children aged between five and nine, however, has decreased from more than a third since 1998. The percentage of children aged between 10 and 14 adopted has more than halved over the same period.'

Young children are more likely to be adopted. I think any target system is wrong because it may skew the system and possibly lead to injustices in order to meet quotas. Has the target system now been scrapped?

Spero Mon 19-Nov-12 08:49:41

Well of course amillionyears, do you understand now why I get so frustrated and ranty on threads like these?

Been making the same points for years now and we continue to waste our time arguing about things which exist only in Daily Mail articles. Of course there are real and serious problems in the system and we need to deal with them. But these problems do not stem from institutionalised corruption and everyone dancing to the LA's tune.

But instead JH would rather spend his time and energy, for example, helping Vicky Haigh appeal against the ruling that she has seriously harmed her child by brainwashing her into believing her father sexually abused her.

Spero Mon 19-Nov-12 08:53:45

I think the targets JH complains about were dropped in 2008, but as you have read the Gov now wants to bring in more or push for similar.

The reason more young children are adopted is that more people want to adopt younger children. Once a child is over 3, the chances of a adoptioin decrease. By the time a child is 7 I am told that a successful adoption is very unlikely. This is because the older a child, the more traumatised they are likely to be and the less likely they are to 'slot' into another family easily.

People want babies or very young children. I can understand why. It takes enormous energy and resources to parent a traumatised older child and there is very little consistently available post adoption to help these children; families seem to be left to sink or swim on their own.

That is the explanation, I do not think it is anything to do with a sinsister 'baby snatching' plot as espoused by JH - unless he is rowing back from this as well? Would be great if he did, that is probably one of the most damaging bits of misinformation he spreads, judging from what my clients say.

claig Mon 19-Nov-12 09:08:58

'People want babies or very young children'

'I think the targets JH complains about were dropped in 2008, but as you have read the Gov now wants to bring in more or push for similar.'

I think the targets have been scrapped, but some of Gove's rhetoric doesn't sound very conservative, as Xenia rightly said, but sounds more like New Labour. Googling Daily Mail articles on adoption, there is stuff by Cameron saying that councils should be "named and shamed" if they are holding up the adoption process.

How does it work? Are there sanctions on councils who are not doing enough adoptions or is it just pressure from speeches and newspaper articles?

We live in the great United Kingdom with our history of civil liberties and a free press. But imagine if we were in the Soviet Union or a socialist Stasi state and if that state wanted more adoptions and people preferred to adopt young children, then it is not impossible that injustices might occur by taking more young children from their parents.

claig Mon 19-Nov-12 09:34:04

I agree with social workers that it is not about speed, it is about doing the job right, however long it takes. This is about people's lives.

claig Mon 19-Nov-12 09:38:18

I don't agree with targets or cost-cutting or pressure to speed things up. I prefer a slow, proper process with lots of checks and an open system that helps parents with appeals in case injustices have occurred.

Am I right that there are about 67,000 children in care? We should be able to find enough money to do a good job for them rather than rushing things through to possibly 'close books' and save money.

Spero Mon 19-Nov-12 09:41:30

I can just about understand that people might fear a link between 'children in care need to have a permanent home' and 'people prefer to adopt younger children' therefore 'we must take more babies into care' but I think it is very tenuous.

The 'quotas' have all been about finding homes for children already in care, whose parents had already been found unable to look after them. Children spend years in care, and this is quite obviously not in their best interests.

JH has said in terms - there is a quota to 'find' babies in the community and to 'snatch' them. Vulnerable parents are targetted, such as those with learning difficulties. And that I don't believe for a moment. But some desparate and unhappy people might prefer to believe that than accept they do have a problem with drink/drugs/violence etc.

We don't live under the Stasi or similar, - the judgements of the UK courts are subject to scrutiny from the European Court of Human Rights. JH has been quite busy taking various cases 'to Europe' and he gets knocked back each time.

So what would he conclude from that? that the tentacles of the conspiracy stretch across the entire European Union?

Spero Mon 19-Nov-12 09:45:25

Claig, but what you must realise is the tension inherent in the system between a 'slow and proper' procedure and doing things to a child's timescale.

The push now is for care cases to conclude in 26 weeks, i.e. six months. The usual time they take is just over a year. For a child of two you are talking about a huge chunk of his life being spent in limbo, waiting for a decision.

The fact that it takes so long is in part due to the inefficiency built into the system because of lack of judges, court time, social workers etc. But also part of the very long time to conclusion is because there is a drive to do it 'properly' - parents will be assessed, by independent social workers, psychologists etc. Parents have the right to challenge all the LA evidence so final hearings are usually 3- 5 days of court time.

Each approach brings with it dangers. Too fast and you are injust to parents. Too slow and you are injust to children. The key is finding the balance. I agree more needs to be done to find the best balance, we are not there yet.

But I am not sure an automatic cut off of 26 weeks is in anyone's interests. Some cases do need longer.

claig Mon 19-Nov-12 10:02:39

We must always be vigilant about our civil liberties and we must always investigate possible cover-ups in care homes and Savile etc.

New Labour introduced the 1989 Children Act, which seems to be what has led to a lack of public scrutiny in family courts. New Labour introduced the cash for councils target system for adoption, New Labour wanted to introduce a biometric DNA and ID card system for all our citizens, New Labour began the introduction of the 'fingerprinting' system in schools. The Coalition stopped this trend in its tracks. But who knows if some people might still want to implement some of it?

John Hemming takes up the cases of people who believe that they have suffered injustice under the system. There are not many people like John Hemming or Tom Watson or social workers Liz Davies and Eileen Fairweather who question the system and take up the cases of people to whom injustice has occurred. They receive lots of opprobrium from the system.

The system doesn't like to be criticised, it doesn't want a free press that might expose things that it prefers to remain hidden.

Remember New Labour's ex-Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, and his speech about a 'poisonous' liberal media.

'Charles Clarke, will tonight claim there is a "pernicious and even dangerous poison" infecting press coverage on the government's civil liberties record.'

'"I believe that a pernicious and even dangerous poison is now slipping into at least some parts of this media view of the world," Mr Clarke will say in the inaugural Polis lecture at the LSE.'

That was on April 24. On April 25, our free press, told us about the scandal of foreign prisoners being released without being considered for deportation and on May 4, Chales Clarke was out of that job.

There are calls to regulate our free press.

Spero Mon 19-Nov-12 10:29:23

Sigh. And thus the debate closes up again.

Are you not worried, even just a little bit, by some of the things JH does and says? Do you not think, even just a little bit, that the focus is not where it should be?

O well. Wait for next thread.

claig Mon 19-Nov-12 10:39:35

'Sigh. And thus the debate closes up again.'

Why? This is an open debate and if you have a point, you can make it. No one is insulting you and trying to stop you having your say. That is a courtesy that should be accorded to everyone, even if you disagree with them, and that includes John Hemming.

'Do you not think, even just a little bit, that the focus is not where it should be?'

I think the focus shouyld be justice, and I think that that is what John Hemming fights to achieve for people who seek his help.

Of course, there are other things to put right, but no one person is capable of putting all these things right. But people who stand up to make a change and fight for justice and the rights of people are doing the right thing, in my opinion. If there were more of them, then we would have a better system.

I believe that courageous people like John Hemming, Tom Watson, Eileen Fairweather and Liz Davies set an example to other people and show that change can happen and that justice is worth fighting for.

They may knight the likes of Savile and Cyril, but they are not people that the public looks up to.

claig Mon 19-Nov-12 11:11:56

'More than half of parents with learning disabilities will have their children taken away at some stage, says Mencap head Mark Goldring, "often because of preconceived ideas that parents with a learning disability are unable to cope". This was highlighted last May when the Daily Telegraph reported a case where a three-year-old girl was to be adopted because, it claimed, social services had deemed her mother "too stupid" to look after her.

But staff at Family Action's Valuing Families service in Leicestershire know that, when properly supported, people with learning disabilities can be excellent parents. The service was commissioned by Leicestershire Council in 2003 to provide tailored support for parents with learning disabilities, after local practitioners identified a need for additional support. Financed by the Children's Fund, it has so far worked with 70 families, and 100 children. "Our aim is to enable and empower learning disabled parents," says project manager Clare Walker.'

Money should be given to help parents with learning disabilities. More newspapers should publish cases like this. This seems to be injustice hidden in plain sight, and not many people talk about it.

We have seen the speeches which talk about 'dysfunctional' families and some of the criteria that are used to label them as dysfunctional. Who knows where this type of talk will lead and what may be done to make them 'function'.

claig Mon 19-Nov-12 11:24:54

'The numbers of children in care has fallen in the past few decades; In 1981, 92,000 children were in care, the figure this year is 67,000.'

So it sounds like things are getting better. But there are calls to increase the number who go into care.

'In a speech in London yesterday, Mr Gove said the state had exposed children to 'a life of soiled nappies, scummy baths, chaos and hunger'.
This was because the state was 'preoccupied with the rights of biological parents.'
He wants social workers to be 'more assertive with dysfunctional parents, courts to be less indulgent of poor parents, and the care system to expand to deal with the consequences'.

Why not give more resources to struggling families. I thought the Conservatives were supposed to be the party of "family values". Gove sounds just like any number of New Labour types.

'He wants social workers to be 'more assertive with dysfunctional parents, courts to be less indulgent of poor parents'

si pooe people will suffer. Is being poor now dysfunctional? Why not help poor people with childcare and employment and training and support? Why choose instead to cause the 'care system to expand to deal with the consequences'?

claig Mon 19-Nov-12 11:26:09

so poor people will suffer

The above quotes come from the following article

claig Mon 19-Nov-12 11:38:44

'courts to be less indulgent of poor parents'

This is people's children and families they are talking about.

'the state was 'preoccupied with the rights of biological parents.'

So the state cared about human rights. But there are now calls for being ''more assertive with dysfunctional parents, courts to be less indulgent of poor parents'.

claig Mon 19-Nov-12 11:47:23

How assertive was the state with dysfunctional people like Savile? They knighted him and indulged him by inviting him to Chequers at Christmas time to put his feet up by the fireside.

SamSmalaidh Mon 19-Nov-12 11:52:23

"Poor parents" - meaning inadequate, not good enough. Not poor in a financial sense.

claig Mon 19-Nov-12 11:55:09

SamSmalaidh , thanks, I didn't realise that.

claig Mon 19-Nov-12 11:56:51

Although, has anybody got that list of 6 or so things that they describe as making dysfunctional families - I think it included long-term unemployment and things like that, but am not sure.

SamSmalaidh Mon 19-Nov-12 12:32:36

Things like long term unemployment/poverty are stressors though, stressors can trigger child abuse.

I think one of the major problems with our child protection system is that it is very reactive to high-profile cases and media/public reactions. At the moment it is weighted quite heavily in favour of birth parents' rights (as a reaction to high profile cases of children being wrongfully removed), and children are left in dangerous situations or repeatedly returned to dangerous situations too often because of it. Soon the pendulum will swing in favour of removing children and will probably go too far again.

JimmyS Mon 19-Nov-12 16:40:18


Haven't been here for a while but last time I recall JH was aking a formal complaint. Anything ever happen with that?

Spero Mon 19-Nov-12 17:36:05

Yes, he made a formal complaint to the Bar Standards Board, saying I had bought my profession into disrepute. They did not uphold his complaint.

JimmyS Mon 19-Nov-12 17:38:33

I should think not. Bizarre.

Devora Mon 19-Nov-12 21:20:35

Spero, thanks for linking to that article. I read it this morning and was going to do the same thing - paste it on here and say, "Now, THIS is what we should be talking about".

Bottom line is it is not about conspiracies or pushy middle class adopters or a vendetta against the poor. It's about resources. About an overstretched system struggling to cope in the face of overwhelming need, staff shortages, a top-down process-driven culture. And about pitifully inadequate support services for struggling families. I was struck by the mention of parents with learning disabilities who could, with adequate support, be able to cope. Because 'adequate support' is the million dollar question, isn't it? Adequate support costs, and it's long term, and though it sounds simple it is fantastically hard to deliver in this current climate.

Spero Mon 19-Nov-12 22:28:05

Agree. But it's not very sexy is it? And not likely to contribute to the self aggrandisement of Hemmng. Thus will not be 'debated' here. Which is a shame.

Xenia Tue 20-Nov-12 13:25:21

Resources are certainly a cause of problems but we have had very very few advocates for parents suffering injustice and we need many many many more, not fewer just as we need people shouting out loud about bad state schools. That does not mean one is criticising all social workers or teachers most of whom do a good job.

We need about 1000 John Hemmings really as a starting point and to change some rules, much much less secrecy and more open hearings.

Spero Tue 20-Nov-12 14:10:21

Be careful what you wish for.

You might get it.

amillionyears Tue 20-Nov-12 19:59:34

One thing that puzzles me about all this is why johnhemmings keeps losing in court.
I havent ever spoken to an MP in my life, but here goes.
Can I ask you John Hemmings MP, why you think you keep losing in court?
Perhaps you win other cases, I dont know.

cory Tue 20-Nov-12 20:07:26

Speaking as somebody who has been suspected, quite unfairly, of abuse and of causing dd considerable medical harm, I am still not convinced that what I want is 1000 John Hemmings and a ban on adoptions.

What I do want is more or less what I got (in those days of an NHS that was not stretched to breaking point): careful investigation by a range of different professionals, referrals to experts, people who could take the time to talk to dd (with and without us present) and find out what was really going on.

Because, frankly, if there had been a chance that we were causing dd's condition by deliberately hurting her, or even by just refusing to learn to parent sensibly, then that should have been flagged up. And if after being chances to change we proved unable or unwilling to change, then dd should have been given another chance to have a decent quality of life. If we had been causing her disability and pain- as some parents undeniably do- then she would have been better off without us. As that poor asthmatic girl was better off without parents who just lied to the doctors about the treatment they were administering. Or the parents who hurt their children to cause medical symptoms: some have been caught on CCTV, in some cases the children have spoken out as adults. The fact that suspicions of Munchausen by Proxy have sometimes proved to be unfounded does not make the behaviour a myth (though whether it should be called a syndrom is debatable). Sexual abuse is not a myth either. We were suspected of that, too.sad

Yes, it was a horrible experience and I don't suppose I will ever quite get over it. We have certainly suffered damage as a family. But I don't want another child to die for that. Or be stuck in an abusive situation. Or be seriously disabled from a condition that could easily be manageable with proper care.

Spero Tue 20-Nov-12 21:37:50

Cory I am sorry to hear what you went through.

There is usually a thorough investigation when a child suffers an injury which others fear is non accidental.

John Hemming has frequently asserted that parents are not allowed to challenge experts, and that all experts are paid for by the LA and are not independent.

I think this is an interesting case, and hopefully reassuring to anyone who thinks that JH is right. He is not. And that is one of many reasons why a thousand of him is an appalling prospect.

amillionyears Tue 20-Nov-12 22:08:07

cory, I do not know you or your background.
What you posted was a brave post.

amillionyears Tue 20-Nov-12 22:11:34

I want to be on the side of John Hemmings MP.
But I am alarmed at how many cases he seems to be involved in , where the judge has ruled the other way.
Do you know the numbers of cases he has been involved in that have gone in his favour, and how many against? Do you know rough numbers at all?
I am assuming that the MP will not have time to be able to be on here again until the weekend to answer any of this?

Spero Tue 20-Nov-12 22:43:04

I agree that Cory's post was brave. It is exactly the kind of input into this debate we need to have. There is a risk that it turns into two polarised positions - the system is great! v the system is corrupt!

neither of course is true, but the more time we waste defending such polarised positions, the less time we have to grapple with what is really going on.

I am very worried about JH because he uses his position as an MP to give weight to what he says, and a lot of what he says is simply untrue. If believed, it will cause a lot of fear and distress to vulnerable parents facing care proceedings and could put children at risk of really serious harm - for example he has said repeatedly on this website and on many other places that parents are better off leaving the country than co-operating with social workers.

this article may help you understand why he worries me

As far as I know, none of the cases he has taken to the European Court have been unpheld in his favour. He seems to throw his weight behind entirely unsympathetic cases - google 'Vicky Haigh' and you will see what I mean. He simply cannot accept that this woman brainwashed her daughter into believing that her father sexually abused her. He seems to have no understanding of the harm done to that child. He instead continues to maintain she is a victim of this 'corrupt' system.

I agree that the vulnerable need a champion. I just think it is a great shame that it is JH who has emerged as such a self proclaimed champion. He gets in the way of a proper debate about what we can do to keep the very difficult balance between parents' and children's rights.

amillionyears Tue 20-Nov-12 22:53:12

Didnt know he has a website.
I will have a look at that.

Approx how many cases has he taken to the European Court?

Spero Tue 20-Nov-12 22:57:48

I am afraid I don't know. He has definitely taken the 2008 case of RP that I linked to below - that was rejected. He claims to have taken others, but I haven't got the case names so can't search.

No doubt if I am wrong about his track record, he can correct me and link to any judgments in his favour. But I am sure I would have read about them, as they would have been very big news for family lawyers.

And btw, he seems to have an awful lot of time to comment on these kind of threads - he pops up all times of the day and night. It makes me wonder what kind of deal his consitutents are getting.

I am not saying he doesn't have the right to campaign about what he wants - but it sticks in my throat that he takes the salary of an MP to do this - its public money.

Flatbread Wed 21-Nov-12 00:11:12

I think John Hemming is doing exactly what he should do -talk with ordinary people and champion free speech. He is fighting for parents and children and all of us. His work regarding the Jersey child abuse case is particularly commendable.

From wiki on John:
He is an opponent of super- and hyper-injunctions,[10] and in March 2011, used parliamentary privilege to reveal the existence of a super-injunction granted to former Royal Bank of Scotland chief Fred Goodwin during a sitting of the House of Commons.[11][12] Following an incident in May 2011 in which the names of celebrities who had allegedly taken out superinjunctions were revealed on Twitter, he commented: “There is a lot to learn from the USA where freedom of speech is enshrined in their constitution. Where the courts are trying to keep state secrets and Twitter is on the other end, Twitter will win."[13] On 23 May 2011 during a Commons debate he mentioned Ryan Giggs as the footballer involved in one privacy injunction.[14][15] In the final meeting of the Commons before the session closed for summer recess, he mentioned details of an injunction and alleged cover-up involving a doctor employed by a Welsh NHS trust. The said doctor is accused by a fellow doctor and surgical assistants of performing surgeries on cancer patients beyond his expertise, against guidelines and in so doing, endangering the lives of patients.[16][17]
Hemming also aided the case of financial journalist Leah McGrath Goodman, who was banned from the UK for two years during her reporting work on the Jersey child abuse investigation 2008 and Haut de la Garenne. The ban was reduced to one year after his actions on behalf of her. He also made a motion in 2012 regarding St Helier Parish Deputy[18] Trevor Pitman's petition to have her UK Visa restored[19]

amillionyears Wed 21-Nov-12 08:00:15

I personally dont have a problem with MPs coming on here.
I do have a problem with them going into the jungle.

fwiw, I think he is probably right on some things and wrong on others.
A doctor endangering lives, being exposed, definitely.
A footballer or whoever maybe having an affair, I dont really see why people have to know this. Unless say, they were for example, promoting family values for instance. Even then, not sure.

johnhemming Wed 21-Nov-12 08:21:55

I have been busy and only noticed the end of this. As a Mackenzie Friend/Lay Adivisor I have personally won one judicial review, one criminal court of appeal case where I got a constituent released from a 5 year jail sentence and one family court court of appeal case. All were cases where I initially prepared the paperwork although other people have been involved. The RP case continues. She wants to apply to the grand chamber. I work with a number of other lay advisors who have both won and lost cases.

I do, however, have parliamentary duties that prevent me from spending that much time handling cases personally or indeed posting on Mumsnet.

cory Wed 21-Nov-12 09:41:50

I do realise that if dd was little and undiagnosed today our chances of a happy outcome would be smaller. With the council laying off large numbers of social workers and the NHS stretched to breaking point, who would have the time to engage with her for long enough to understand the real root of her problems? I am worried for the children who will fall between chairs because they were born in the wrong decadesad

cory Wed 21-Nov-12 11:02:53

tbh except for those cases where the parents cooperate with each other and the investigating authority (as we did) I struggle to see how you are going to manage situations of potential abuse without an adversarial system

In the Vicky Haigh case there were two possibilities:

*either the child was sexually abused by the father as the mother claimed

in which case the child had come to harm and would be exposed to further harm unless protected from the father

*or else the child was being brainwashed by the mother into believing she had been abused when she hadn't

in which case it seems pretty obvious that the child had come to harm and would be exposed to further harm unless protected from the mother (how much good would it do you to depend for your mental and emotional development on somebody who was unhinged enough to do something like that?)

The only chances of protecting the child would seem to be to find out where the danger lay.

As John Hemmings rightly pointed out, an adversarial system always risks making the wrong decision. We might even be extremely pessimistic and call it a 50% risk.

But if there is no such system, wouldn't that just mean exposing the child from potential risk from either the father or mother- making it pretty well a 100% risk?

If the courts made no efforts to find out if Haigh's allegations were true, they would have no right to deny the daughter access to her father, a potential sexual abuser. Or what other principle should one apply? Always trust the mother?

In our case, our daughter was either ill or abused. The authorities needed to know which so that she could either be protected or treated. Leaving things alone would not have helped her in any way, it would have left her where she was: unhappy and in pain. Was that a price worth paying for our peace of mind? I don't think so.

Xenia Wed 21-Nov-12 11:08:08

Agree with Flatbread.

In all areas where people have power it is a very good idea to have a lot of people interfering with that, checks and balances and openness as that makes it harder for an injustice to be done.

At the core of the same issue is the fact that in other areas our courts often disagree with Government which is constitutionally a very good thing although then we get those fun conflicts when courts say you must not say X and an MP says X. We also get great court decisions about important issues which require Government to change its laws. That is just one small illustration of the same point - having people who are disconnected and independent criticising those with power in whatever area it might be. The internet also gives that power to ordinary people including power to record people chucking cats into bins or a child can film its parent bashing it and upload it. A huge force for good on the whole.

We certainly need evidence capable of challenge. Most parents do not have the resources to challenge thing. The same issues arise with child contact after divorce too it being very hard to cut a child in two as King Solomon knew all those years ago.

Spero Wed 21-Nov-12 11:14:06

I agree with you that there are troubling times ahead.

I had once case where a child was covered in bruises. parents had no explanation. Both children removed. It was only because one doctor pushed and pushed for a particular blood test that it was found that the bruises could have spontaneously arisen and LA backed down. What if we are now told there just isn't the money for these kind of investigations.

I agree that no system of investigation can ever get it right all the time, but the adversarial system is probably the best safeguard for parents. JH seems to believe lawyers can't be independent if they have ever represented a LA but in my experience, this just isn't true. When I represent parents I am paid by the state and - as I have said before - it is not just my duty but a positive pleasure to take apart a poorly constructed case against parents.

But an uncomfortable thing to note - the last two cases I 'won' ended up with the children being taken back into care a few months later on emergency applications because the family had broken down again.

The focus should be on what support is available in the community before things get bad, and what support can be availalble after proceedings.

Spero Wed 21-Nov-12 11:16:18

Xenia - I agree with you about the need for people prepared to stick their needs over the parapet and fight for justice.

But do you really think JH is the best person for this kind of job? Do you have no disquiet whatsoever about the way he conducts himself?

Xenia Wed 21-Nov-12 11:36:11

Of course I have no concerns. We need 1000 of him as I said. Sometimes people will get things wrong and sometimes not but if you don't try then no one is protected.

"All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing "

Sometimes courts issue judgments in family cases showing a particular father who has become almost mentally unhinged and a serial litigator and they are useful cases to read and that openness is really good as it gives people a chance to read the real case not just speculation and the more of that openness we have the better. I would rather children suffered the slight risk of damage due to publicity than we maintain the secrecy to proceedings we now have.

It is one reason having charities involved too even if people have suggested they are posh or from a different class than social workers - because the more perspectives you have whether it is the view of the local mullah or vicar or school head the better. It does not matter if all social workers, family experts and family lawyers do a wonderful job most of the time if it appears that they do not then that is not good enough.

There do seem to be too many cases where children are removed - not where the child is covered in bruises and clearly badly damaged when of course we need intervention but because someone crossed swords with some working class rather thick social worker who has got their back up against a middle class mother and then removes the child for some kind of spurious "emotinoal abuse". I want children to be able to be brought up in 1000 different types of homes in the UK under the banner of parental freedom whether that be home schooled, Eton or the local comp, whether fundamentalist Mormon, Brethern or atheist, whether a home where people are happy to walk around naked (mine) or where girls cover up. I want that huge variety of freedom rather than a one size fits all right way to be with a child. I want one parent to be able to leave the sensible 12 year old at home looking after the 3 younger children and another never to let the 18 year old get the bus alone as they are so worried about her. I want toleration of variety and open mindedness about what may be absolutely okay.

However I am sure I and JH and most people on the thread and social workers would all agree that there are many many clear cases where a child is at huge risk. It is really only a small % where there is an issue and I am very pleased foreign Governments are getting involved in this process and criticising the UK process because again it is an external objective and different point of view.

cory Wed 21-Nov-12 11:51:20

But is emotional abuse always spurious, Xenia?

There have been well documented cases where mentally unhinged parents have persuaded healthy children that they were seriously ill or disabled when this was not true. Do you really believe that that would do the child no harm? That being made to believe throughout your childhood that you were seriously ill and would never be able to lead a normal life would do no harm? Or that you had been abused in the past and must never venture into the outside world because it was full of dangerous abusers and only mummy could keep you safe? There are parents like this- of course a small minority- but so are physical abusers a minority; doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

cory Wed 21-Nov-12 11:53:22

And incidentally, speaking from my own experiences of being investigated by various authorities on more than one occasion, I have never felt that being middle class and well educated was to my disadvantage, regardless of the background of the investigating official.

In fact, I have often wondered how I could have coped and could have got people to listen if I had been a 19yo working class girl with little confidence in my own standing and no training in how to express myself. I am convinced I talked my way out of that hospital, I talked dd out SS intervention, I talked her way into a school that would support her and believe her. Whoever is disadvantaged I don't think it's people like me.

Xenia Wed 21-Nov-12 11:55:25

In those cases I would argue that the damage done through potentially removing children where that might be in doubt is worse than that done by removing children where it has been done. Most children in care are more likely to end up in prison than university.

I agree some parents are pretty nasty to their chidlren. I suspect is you took any of us over our lives as parents you could pluck a few things out as grounds to rem ove the children and that is very worrying for a lot of parents.

If the basic rule were is the child fed, kept warm and not physically abused and concentrate on those cases there may be more fairness but I need to work now and I am just an interested outsider and mother.

I was just encouraging John H and others like him.

amillionyears Wed 21-Nov-12 12:02:00

But if JH keeps losing cases, is he saying that judges keep getting it wrong?

amillionyears Wed 21-Nov-12 12:03:57

Xenia, do you have any personal experience of adoption or fostering?

amillionyears Wed 21-Nov-12 12:05:49

"Most children in care are more likely to end up in prison than university".
How do you know that the number wouldnt be a lot higher, if they were left with their emotionally abusive parents?

cory Wed 21-Nov-12 12:24:04

"Most children in care are more likely to end up in prison than university."

And this is a reason to ban adoptions? [hmm}

cory Wed 21-Nov-12 12:36:33

Xenia Wed 21-Nov-12 11:55:25

"I agree some parents are pretty nasty to their chidlren. I suspect is you took any of us over our lives as parents you could pluck a few things out as grounds to rem ove the children and that is very worrying for a lot of parents"

I repeat that this has not been my experience of how SS work. We have been investigated repeatedly, on the first occasion because a paediatrician misdiagnosed dd's medical condition as psychosomatic and likely to have been caused by abuse, on the second and third occasion called in by dd's HT, who was unhappy with dd's attendance record and our criticism of the school's failure to provide disabled access and inclined to believe we were faking or exaggerating dd's disability.

At no stage did I find SS at all interested in plucking out a few aspects of ordinary parenting as grounds for removing dd- and I am sure they could have found plenty of ordinary parenting issues, not to mention mildly odd or eccentric aspects, about us if they'd tried. Their only concern was to establish whether dd was being harmed.

And I don't think you could argue with the contention that if we had deliberately been denying dd an education and chances to socialise because we wanted to think of her as ill, then that would have constituted harm.

If we had kept her in a wheelchair when there was no physical reason, wasting her muscles and denying her healthy exercise, then that would have constituted harm.

If we had brought her up to think she was ill and unable to cope when that was not true, and if her present state of health anxiety and depression (for which she is on constant medication) had been our doing, then that would certainly have constituted harm.

But once SS had established that this was not happening, they were not going to hang around looking for insignificant departures from ideal parenting.

Lilka Wed 21-Nov-12 12:46:37

I very much doubt that you could find any grounds to remove a child from most parents, based on my experiences. You would find many homes whre you could find many valid grounds for removal but not meet the threshold for going into care

I read a social worker commenting online who said they went into a house which was filthy with dog poo over the childs bed (and child expected to sleep in it) and was told by their manager that that in no way proves neglect. I suspect this is very common

Emotional abuse nearly always occurs with other abuse, but we must recognise that in and of itself it can be extremely damaging. We aren't talking daily mail-esque mother might shout at children in the future, we are talking a child being bullied day in day out eg. 'worthless...', 'I wish I got an abortion', 'you don't deserve to live', 'I hate you', 'no one could ever love you', and that's just the very tip of the iceberg. Parents favouring one child to the extent they blatantly ignore and belittle one whilst praising the other and giving them nice things all the time. Parents taking drugs in front of their children, parents taking their children to drug dens and staying there with them, parents beating each other up in front of the children, parents controlling their child completely, parents forcing their child to do very degrading things. This all comes under the banner of emotional abuse. Some of that is very common in child protection, especially drugs and domestic violence. I think people percieve emotional abuse to be just about words. The effects can be life long and damaging. Very poor self esteem, stunted development, self abuse and so on

Flatbread Wed 21-Nov-12 12:57:29

*Most children in care are more likely to end up in prison than university".
How do you know that the number wouldnt be a lot higher, if they were left with their emotionally abusive parents?*

Because we have data to prove it. Please read the study I linked to earlier in this thread. Children, on average, are far better off being left with neglectful, somewhat abusive parents (not talking about life-threatening violence or sexual abuse), than foster care. There are less likely to be delinquent and more likely to be better off financially when they grow up.

We need to be more focused on collecting and analysing outcomes data to understand the consequences of our child 'protection' policies. Science and data, not emotions and facile cultural judgements should govern how we deal with children in less than ideal family environments.

Flatbread Wed 21-Nov-12 12:59:28

Lilka, even in the cases you suggest, it is likely that the children would be better off with their parents, than foster care.

Spero Wed 21-Nov-12 13:13:53

Please do link to the data that shows positive outcomes for children left in abusive homes.

Spero Wed 21-Nov-12 13:20:22

Xenia, I recall on a thread where a woman wanted advice about retraining for the Bar, you were quite scornful about women who wanted to go into family law, 'low paid ghetto' I think you called it.

Is that still your view? Just interested where you think these 1,000 of crusaders are going to come from seeing that you have such a poor opinion of the importance of the work donein this field.

Flatbread Wed 21-Nov-12 13:29:53

Spero, please see the link I posted earlier in the thread. Like I said, decisions should be made based on outcomes data for children, not emotions and moral judgements.

Back to my earlier question -in the US there is a lot of data, especially outcomes data collected to evaluate child protection programmes. What is being done in the UK? How do we know social services are effective and that the children are better off based on the decisions made on their behalf?

However imperfect or incomplete data might be, it is a far superior guide to govern policies, as compared to secret courts and an opaque social service system.

cory Wed 21-Nov-12 13:30:07

Flatbread, what about medical abuse of the kind we were suspected of? Would dd have been better off if exposed to that? Or what about the case of the asthmatic girl Spero linked to in her 19.02 post on 18 November?

That was a little girl who was denied a normal childhood because of the way the parents handled her (relatively minor) medical condition. It was impossible to re-train the parents to do it correctly as they did not listen to advice and consistently lied to the medical professionals about what they were doing. They were constantly trying to get her admitted to hospital (50 hospital admissions in 6 years including 22 by night by ambulance!) and claiming that she didn't respond to the treatment (because they didn't give it to her). In the end, her whole life centered around her medical condition and her social development was badly affected.

Once she was placed with her grandparents, she was able to resume a normal life, access education and participate in ordinary children's activities.

Are you really saying she would have been better off being left on heavy medication and with regular ambulance calls made by her hysterical parents? Being made to believe that she had a dangerous illness that could not be treated?

What would her chances have been of growing up leading a normal life unless something changed? And as it proved impossible to get her parents to change, how else could things change for her?

I know that false accusations of Munchausen are banded about. I have good reason to know that. But that doesn't prove it never happens.

Lord McAlpine's name was cleared. He was innocent. That doesn't prove that paedophilia doesn't exist, nor that everybody who is accused of paedophilia is innocent.

Lilka Wed 21-Nov-12 13:37:15

I think many of those children are better off in care. A parent who is constantly high on drugs, passed out, leaving their child in the supervision of other strangers and addicts who could be anyone, not providing the child with enough food or a predictable safe home to live in, not engaging with them, not bothering to provide them with an education....I can't believe we would expect the children of this country to live in such horrid conditions. We wouldn't leave a dog there for 5 minutes. Children's attachments to their parents are important, but their overall wellbeing is more important. One of my best friends is a foster carer and it's heartwarming to see the progress her LO's make in her loving care, going from children with drug withdrawal, serious developmental delays, withdrawn, aggresive etc, to children who, whilst they will always carry the scars of poor care, are in many ways unrecognisable compared to the children they were before

cory Wed 21-Nov-12 13:51:00

The difficulty with parents who have not committed actual physical abuse but are e.g. heavy drug users is that by the time SS's fears that they would be unable to keep their child safe have been justified, it may well be too late.

A 4yo who is left to play in the street at midnight may not show any signs of actual physical abuse- but he's not terribly safe either. A child left unsupervised in a house where drugs and needles are lying around may not come to any harm, he may be luckly, but you won't know until afterwards.

Flatbread Wed 21-Nov-12 13:54:44

I think many of those children are better off in care

Lilka, it doesn't really matter what you and I think. What matters are outcomes data, imperfect as they might be.

Anecdotes and good intentions should not drive policy. Child welfare policies and decisions should only be made based on outcomes evidence, analysed over large samples and time periods.

And this data should be openly available (names protected) to researchers to conduct analysis and an open debate to guide policies

Hummingbirds Wed 21-Nov-12 13:59:18

Firstly, thank you to everyone for offering their perspectives on this thread. I personally am finding it very interesting reading all your contributions. Having said that, I continue to believe that one of the most deeply damaging things you could ever do to a child is to remove them from their mother or father. Of course there are extreme situations where it has to be done, no one is suggesting otherwise.

On a personal note, I remember very vividly what it felt like to be a child. I remember how all of us children were rarely listened to by adults. We perceived adults as tyrants, really.

So to the poster who, several pages ago, asked me if children whose parents had subjected them to horrific, criminal abuse should be allowed to maintain contact with the parent: yes, I think the child should always have that basic right of contact with their natural parents. Of course, if the child doesn't want to, then that should be respected, too.

Regarding Fran Lyon, I read the article linked to. It shed no new light, though, on the SS's appalling behaviour.

Panorama had a very interesting programme (available on Youtube): 'The Truth about Adoption.' An illuminating peek into the child protection, fostering and adoption system. What emerged for me was how deeply these children are damaged by removal from their parents. Most of them spend years essentially parentless and homeless in foster care. Surely if the 400-odd pounds per week given to the foster parents could be redirected towards support services for the natural parents, many removals could be avoided?

Lastly, Spero -- I think you are misrepresenting John Hemming's arguments. If a specialist is receiving work from the local authorities, then they are more likely to be subtly swayed by that; it is not necessarily a case of pure, conscious corruption. I've seen, in a professional capacity, all sorts of situations where that kind of subtle sway has been at work. In a nutshell, nine out of ten people will feel a tug of loyalty towards the hand that feeds them.

Hummingbirds Wed 21-Nov-12 14:15:19

Spero, thank you for the link to the Guardian article. The judges referred to in the article, though, are effectively suggesting the very thing that John Hemming has been saying all along: that there is indeed an agenda at play. And one that is not being driven by the welfare of the children.

cory Wed 21-Nov-12 14:16:34

One difficulty, Hummingbird, seems to be to me in the case where a parent uses contact to reinforce damaging ideas. For instance, a parent who insists that only s/he can protect her child from a dangerous illness or sexual abuse when it has been clearly proved that no such illness/abuse exists, whose child is now in recovery and beginning to lead a normal life, but whose parent uses all the contact time to tell the child that she is in danger from her carers. Or a parent who has been abusive telling a child that they've done no harm and that SS have stolen her.

I don't think any of us are in favour of willy-nilly removals.

But then we don't all believe that willy-nilly removals are a great problem. I for one do not believe it- and if you have read my former posts you will see that we are a family who would have a lot to fear from reckless action by SS. It would have been very easy to make up a case against us if that had really been their agenda.

I am finding this debate interesting because I am seeing things from the other side here. When we were first suspected I was terribly hurt and angry and could really only think of how horrible people were to us. After years of living with what dd has to go through, I've come round to thinking that if there had been any way of stopping it, then that would have had to be done. If I could cure her by jumping off a cliff, I'd do it. If she could be cured by going into care, then she should do it. It's only because I genuinely believe we are the best option for her that I would think another investigation wrong.

amillionyears Wed 21-Nov-12 14:27:40

Spero, did Xenia really say that?
She wants the work done but doesnt want to do it herself.
She wanted a lot of her childcare done by someone else, and then makes degrading comments about their profession.
She wants women, or actually maybe men to go into family law in case she needs them at a later date. But then makes degrading comments about them as well.

MissVerinder Wed 21-Nov-12 14:30:54

Hummingbird, I have been reading this with interest, but as a foster carer, let me enlighten you.

Many (most) foster carers do not get paid "£400 odd" a week for looking after children.

Those that do are 'earning' less than £2.50 an hour.

There has to be a line drawn as to what is an 'acceptable' risk of harm to a child from leaving them with their birth parent/s and the alternative, which would be placing them with a foster family.

There are plenty of people fighting over the pencil, but no-one's put it to the paper yet.

amillionyears Wed 21-Nov-12 14:35:32

Xenia, post 18 Nov 07.06am
"Emotional abuse not to be grounds to remove a child ever.

Just so we are clear what emotional abuse is classed as, at least by wikipedia and the NSPCC

amillionyears Wed 21-Nov-12 14:36:39
cory Wed 21-Nov-12 14:41:08

Very useful definition there from the NSPCC, amillion

"No parent (or carer) gets it right every time and an act of bad parenting does not amount to emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is severe and persistent ill treatment which adversely affects a child's emotional health and development"

In the case of the girl in Spero's link, it was quite clear that her parents' persistent hysteria around her health issues had damaged her social, emotional, physical and linguistic development- that is an awful lot of catching up for her to do and, sadly, no way to get the process started until the parents were out of the picture.

Spero Wed 21-Nov-12 15:44:41

I agree with Flatbread that we need more data and more research - again that boils down to money.

I don't agree I am misrepresenting JH position. He repeatedly asserts that the entire system is corrupt and 'evil'. If he has now changed that position that would be wonderful and I hope he can confirm this, at the same time that he removes all links to Ian Joseph from his website.

Amillionyears, I think the thread where Xenia opines about what areas of law are 'best' should still be around, I don't think it was on chat. She was very clear that she looked down upon women who went into 'low paid' areas of law.

I was warned off family law by several people as it does have a high proportion of female and non white practitioners and those doing publicly funded work don't earn mega bucks. Which tells us all we need to know about the values of a capitalist society - chase the money, nothing else is of value.

So there you go Xenia! Brave new world eh.

cory Wed 21-Nov-12 18:46:35

I think it is also very important to realise that data from the US concerning adoption cannot be used to support policy here in the UK as the rules governing the selection of families etc are very different.

Flatbread Wed 21-Nov-12 19:43:33

Cory, perhaps (though I am sceptical that UK is a unique case).

But where is the data and rigorous analysis in the UK? I saw a study where funding was provided for a data-based outcomes evaluation for child protection in UK, but the powers to be changed that to an evaluation of processes and made it into a softy management jargon exercise

I don't think it is funding, I think it is perhaps a lack of will and a lack of expertise. Secrecy is of comfort to some who don't want an open, fact-based evaluation of their performance

Spero Wed 21-Nov-12 19:54:19

Sigh. Well, why don't you and JH do a sponsored run, raise the money and when all the many hundreds of well qualified academics in this field won't touch it, you will have more proof of the massive conspiracy theory of lizards etc.

Flatbread Wed 21-Nov-12 20:25:33

when all the many hundreds of well qualified academics in this field won't touch it

Why won't they touch it? Are academics in UK also so different from those in the US?

Xenia Wed 21-Nov-12 20:39:43

I don't think anyone is saying there is a massive conspiracy. I am just saying the more separate scrutiny and different bodies involved the better. and I am glad there are people like JH and others and independent charities and people who have no financial or professional or other connection to those involved. That sort of check and balance is needed in just about all areas and most of us welcome it.

cory Wed 21-Nov-12 21:20:08

More scrutiny sounds good. But who is going to pay for scrutinising the SWs at a time when councils can't even afford to pay to keep the SWs in the first place? (major redundancies down here)

FamiliesShareGerms Wed 21-Nov-12 21:34:19

Xenia, johnhemming and his supporters do say that there is a massive conspiracy; that babies are snatched to hit targets and get more money for LAs; that social workers / judges / expert witnesses are all in on this conspiracy...

I agree that the process should be more open to scrutiny. I don't agree that there should be completely open reporting of court hearings (children are entitled to their privacy; as are other family members - would you want to be a child whose younger sibling is being considered for adoption and whose details are freely available to all and sundry?). I wish all the effort johnhemming and others put into challenging the current system was done so in a constructive way, that might lead to genuinely helpful reform that would protect children at risk of harm and parents at risk of unfounded accusations. Not twaddle conspiracy talk.

Spero Wed 21-Nov-12 21:35:00

No Flatbread. Of course they would be delighted to undertake work for which they get paid. Who is going to pay them? When contact centres are being shut and there are no contact support workers left, how are we going to justify diverting thousands on research?

I am not saying it isn't needed. It is. But please don't insult your own intelligence by suggesting the data is deliberately not gathered to support the State conspiracy to steal children.

I was making an admittedly clumsy gibe at your apparent membership of the conspiracy club. No doubt JH would refuse to use any of his millions to pay for such research on basis that no one would do it, or all are in pay of the State.

Xenia, clearly you are not ever going to tethered by the shackles of logic or reason, so kudos for your consistency if nothing else. But just spend 10 minutes googling and reading up on the fine work done by JH. He is one of the main protagonists of the Ruled by Lizards theory. Hence my concern that another 1,000 of him is not really what is needed.

Flatbread Wed 21-Nov-12 21:44:53

Academics usually get grants from independent sources, such as the Ford foundation. They also are paid by their universities for research duties, so if the data was available, I am pretty sure there would be a large of academics, think-tanks like Rand who would love to analyse the data and report the findings.

But the data has to be put out there in the public domain for that to happen.

Spero Wed 21-Nov-12 21:48:28

Ok, so what data do you mean?

There is a lot out there. I am sure you could look at offenders and check their backgrounds. How about those in care, those removed then returned, those never removed but referrals were made, those who were adopted?

JH has lots of cash I am told. Money where mouth time perhaps?

claig Wed 21-Nov-12 21:50:01

'He is one of the main protagonists of the Ruled by Lizards theory'

Spero, when you make false accusations like that, you are weakening your already weak case.

claig Wed 21-Nov-12 21:52:09

'JH has lots of cash I am told.'

I doubt he has as much cash as Social Services, paid for by the public.

Devora Wed 21-Nov-12 21:53:01

Emotional abuse has become a dog whistle term that makes every parent who is sometimes shouty (i.e. all of us) think that they are at risk from nasty social workers (interesting that Xenia thinks it's 'thick working class' social workers persecuting middle class parents; the usual stereotype is the opposite).

Some examples of emotional abuse I have come across: making a sexually abused child wear a placard saying 'slut'; making/letting a young child watch sexually violent films; isolating a child from their siblings and forcing all the family to belittle and bully the scapegoated child.

This is NOT trivial stuff. And, as Lilka says, it is rare for it to be used in isolation from neglect or physical abuse (perhaps because it's harder to prove).

Spero Wed 21-Nov-12 21:58:58

Claig. It is not a false accusation. Would you like me to get off my iPad, fire up my laptop and provide you with the links to the threads on here, interviews with other sources, his own website?

I spent ten miserable hours gathering it altogether in August for my official letter of complaint, which Nick Clegg 'assures' me is receiving attention.

Hollow laugh. It's almost enough to make one believe there is a conspiracy...

Spero Wed 21-Nov-12 22:02:04

child Protection services have a finite and increasingly slashed budget to deal with actual cases of child protection.

JH is a millionaire businessman who also receives a hefty salary plus expenses as an MP.

Who do you think is better placed to pay for research?

claig Wed 21-Nov-12 22:02:12

I am talking about 'lizards', have you got any links about that?

amillionyears Wed 21-Nov-12 22:03:57
amillionyears Wed 21-Nov-12 22:04:44

I was going to ask about what is the lizards thing too

claig Wed 21-Nov-12 22:05:07

'Who do you think is better placed to pay for research?'

The government and its agencies, of course, because they are funded by the taxpayer, and pay the wages of tens of thousands of employees, and create policies that affect the public.

Flatbread Wed 21-Nov-12 22:05:37


The point is to study the impact of social service decisions - how many referred, how many investigated and by whom, decisions made and the outcomes for children impacted by the decisions.

This data needs to be provided by social services, although supplementary data can be augmented by other agencies.

It is not necessary for child protection agencies to analyse the data (although they should, if they really care about child welfare). The point is for them to collect the data and make the data public to academics and others who are independent in judging the effectiveness of child protection policies.

Devora Wed 21-Nov-12 22:06:01

Flatbread, I have had a quick look at the paper you link to. It is certainly interesting, but I don't see how it supports your assertion that children are better off with even abusive families than in foster care.

The study says itself, right at the top, that 'large marginal treatment effect estimates suggest caution in the interpretation'. It is very reckless to think that one study of this type can count as evidence, though it is definitely interesting.

Moreover, the study is clear that it simply 'suggests that children on the margin of placement tend to have better outcomes when they remain at home, especially older children'. We can't extrapolate any wider lessons from this unless we know:

- where the threshold is for taking children into care in Illinois (it is obvious that there is a balance to be struck between damaging children by taking them away from their families and damaging children by leaving them with their families - for all we know, the children in this study were taken into care when in the UK they would have been left at home)

- what foster care is like in Illinois (maybe their foster care system is hideously poor quality, much worse than in the UK?)

Also worth pointing out that they say their conclusion is particularly pertinent to older children, and of course it does not study the results of adoption or of good quality residential care which is often a better option than foster care for older children.

In other words, though an interesting study, it ultimately only suggests that the threshold for taking children into care may be too low in Illinois. We cannot extrapolate from this that it is too low in the UK.

Spero Wed 21-Nov-12 22:13:31

I use 'lizards' as convenient shorthand for all those who would prefer to believe in consipracies than the less exciting reality. It comes from David Icke who apparently believes we are all ruled by Jewish lizards, or something. I haven't played much attention to what he says for hopefully obvious reasons.

I don't know if JH and David Icke are friends, and I could care less. What I do know, evidence from JH's own words, are that he is at the forefront of the movement that asserts care proceedings exist to feed the middle classes desire for cute babies to adopt. He is a massive part of this particular conspiracy theory.

I have just cut and pasted from my letter, so apologies if links don't work, try pasting them into your browser

In no particular order of importance, in my opinion the most dangerous false assertions repeatedly made by Mr Hemming are:
1)That care proceedings are initiated to fulfil government targets to bring babies into the ‘system’ to be adopted. Although he claims that this target no longer has Government sanction he maintains that Local Authorities continue to operate towards a non-existent ‘target’. It seems he is confusing this with official policies to try and speed up adoption for children who are already in care and who need a permanent family. This has been pointed out to him repeatedly on the mumsnet forum and elsewhere, but he is either unable or unwilling to understand this point.
a.See an interview by David Chaplin in Family Law Week ‘He already claims that he has exposed the oft-denied adoption targets with the admission by Hammersmith and Fulham, through a press release in March this year, that they had achieved a target that awarded them with an additional £500,000 of funding for achieving a target of 100 adoptions or secure placements over three years.’
b.See: Mr Hemming’s Parliamentary website [] ‘At least 10,000 young children have been dragged from their families and needlessly adopted due to a flawed target at the heart of Government, it was claimed last night Last night backing came from MP John Hemming, who said the policy led to the unnecessary adoption of 1,000 children every year’
c.See the Families and Social Services Information Team Website [] Mr Hemming added: "There are financial rewards - a fund of about £35million - for getting children adopted. Admittedly, it has been proposed that adoption targets are scrapped on April 1, but clearly there are still problems."
d.See John Hemming’s contribution to the thread on mumsnet on 26.05.11 at 12:36:30 [] ‘In order to increase adoption numbers here more young babies were taken into care. I can email the stats to anyone who is interested.’

Spero Wed 21-Nov-12 22:21:14

However, it is JH's continued affiliation with such as Ian Joseph that cause me the most concern.

Mr Hemming as advisor to parents in care proceedings
I am worried that the real danger in Mr Hemming’s activities is not simply that he campaigns on a false basis but that he advises people, both in person and via his and other websites.
There are many other websites he links to from his own site. The linked sites include Ian Joseph’s site Forced Adoption []. In my view, this site contains extreme and dangerous advice. Mr Joseph sets out his ‘Golden Rules’ for parents involved in care proceedings [] which include:
‘Never ask them [Social Workers] for help, think very carefully before you report a violent partner (especially if the abuse is only verbal) or even a sexual molester (especially if the children beg you to say nothing) as once social workers or police are involved you risk losing your children for "failing to protect them
IF the "SS" threaten to take your children for adoption, make sure they never forget you .Hug them tight at "last contact" so they cannot easily be removed while you repeat to them that wicked people are stealing them for money ,and to say no to adoption when they try to give them a horrible new mummy and daddy !
THIS AT LEAST SHOULD HELP TO SABOTAGE ANY UNWANTED ADOPTIONS AND MAKE SURE YOUR KIDS WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER YOU AND GET IN TOUCH LATER .Not many "adopters" will want to take in a child who has been told to say "NO" to adoption in any case !
In my view such advice, if followed, clearly puts children at risk of continuing violent and sexual abuse or serious emotional abuse.
Mr Joseph’s site is an affiliated site upon the Families for Justice Website i.e. an organisation that has ‘agreed to work with Justice for Families to improve the situation in respect of Public Family Law’. I have repeatedly asked Mr Hemming on the mumsnet forum to explicitly disassociate himself from Mr Joseph, given the extreme and dangerous nature of his views. Mr Hemming refuses. '

Flatbread Wed 21-Nov-12 22:26:10

Devora, there is greater scrutiny of child protection, more widely available data, and more propensity to litigate by parents in the US. This suggests that thresholds for putting children into care is probably higher, not lower, than in the UK. Just because there will be more people protesting, scrutinising and possibly contesting the social services decisions, unlike the UK where there is secrecy around this issue. So presumably the children at the margins, who stayed at home, were facing some level of emotional and physical abuse and neglect, but not high enough to clearly cross the threshold.

I linked to one study, but there are more for different states. Every study that is responsibly done will suggest caution in interpreting findings, but statistical analyses like these are powerful because they control for many variables in their analyses. And it does suggest that unless there is extreme abuse, children are better off with their parents.

Now, is the UK system that different from the US? Are decision-makers better and foster care of higher quality? We simply don't know. UK child protection agencies need to make their decisions and data available, so similar studies can be done in UK.

Devora Wed 21-Nov-12 22:29:25

But that's a lot of assumptions, Flatbread. You said your study provided proof, but it doesn't, does it?

Have you done a search for UK research?

Spero Wed 21-Nov-12 22:31:27

Flatbread - go to or the BAIILI site - there are hundreds of judgments there for you to read, the data is already out there. The system is not 'shrouded in secrecy' - what happens is that a child's identity and horrible history is kept private. There is already quite a bit of research on what children think about opening up the family courts. Those old enough to speak say 'no thanks'.

I am off to bed now, but rest assured I have lots and lots and lots and lots more links if anyone else wants to doubt why I say JH is chief proponent of the conspiracy theories surrounding the child protection system.

Lilka Wed 21-Nov-12 22:41:39

There are entire forums of people in the US saying near the exact same thing as parents in the UK - CPS/DSHS etc, stole our children to give to foster/adopt parents (it's nearly all concurrent planning over there, so the FP's then adopt the kids), they are against us, the judge is biased, the SW is biased, it's a set up from start to finish and so on. Remarkably similar to the UK, no real difference except no JH involved. Perhaps they also believe it's a big government conspiracy, who knows.

Their threshold does not seem to be higher than ours anecdotally. I am a member of a forum which is nearly all Americans, and the situation they describe are very very simlar to UK situations to ours. Why right this moment there is a user there whose foster son was removed because of MSBP/FII and the case is probably going to adoption. Mother maintains she's a good parent and no reason for her son to be removed apparently. Most situations involve things that would be classified as emotional abuse - drugs mostly and domestic violence, same as here. Pretty sure that in many states over there if a baby tests + for drugs in system at birth, removal into care is automatic and not situation dependent

I don't see many differences between us honestly

Flatbread Wed 21-Nov-12 22:52:42

Devora, the study provides compelling analysis to indicate that children are better off with their family than foster care, in cases where there isn't sexual abuse or life-threatening physical abuse.

The study is based on data from IL, but there is nothing to suggest that the findings are somehow unique to IL.

Not sure what you are debating...sure, we don't know whether the findings are true for the UK, but that is the whole point...we need more transparency and outcomes data and public scrutiny to study child protection decisions and their outcomes on child welfare

Devora Wed 21-Nov-12 23:11:33

No, Flatbread, it talks about borderline cases. It explicitly says this is true of children 'on the margin of placement', NOT all cases where abuse is non-sexual or stops short of being life threatening. If you read the conclusion it offers three main caveats:

First, the study only looks at older children. It also points out that Illinois places more children with family members than the nation as a whole.

Second, let me quote direct: "the results consider a group on the margin of placement. While this speaks directly to the policy question of whether we should place greater emphasis on family preservation or child protection, it does not attempt to measure the benefit of placement for children in such danger that all investigators would agree the child should be placed."

And last: "the outcomes studied here may relate to child wellbeing as an adolescent, though they may not reflect the potential prevention of serious child abuse in extreme cases. To the extent that the children on the margin of placement are less likely to suffer from the most serious abuse, this may be less of a concern. Still, child welfare agencies may be willing to trade off higher delinquency, teen motherhood, and unemployment rates for slightly lower levels of serious abuse."

I think it is an interesting study and it is a very important issue. Undoubtedly it hurts children to be taken from their families. Undoubtedly it hurts children to stay with abusive families. How can we get as clever as possible at deciding the best path of action to take? If we decide a child is, on balance, better off staying with the family, how do we support their situation within that family?

These are vitally important questions. But the study does NOT say children are better off with their family where there isn't sexual abuse or life-threatening physical abuse. I am debating your interpretation of this study because evidence is IMPORTANT and because if policymakers followed your interpretation it would mean living vast numbers of children in abusive situations when they would be better off taken out of it.

Devora Wed 21-Nov-12 23:12:58

It is YOUR assumption that borderline cases = non-sexual and non-life threatening abuse. I don't think that's a definition that you'll find in child protection policy.

Sorry if I'm being pedantic but I do think it's terribly important to understand what research does and does not say.

Flatbread Wed 21-Nov-12 23:30:44

Devora, if it is life threatening abuse and/or sexual abuse, the children are not marginal cases. They would definitely go into care.

So yes, marginal cases are where there is likely abuse, but of lesser severity. And in these cases, the study suggests that children who stayed with their family had better outcomes on average than children placed in foster care.

The larger point though, is that we need data-driven studies like this in the UK to guide policy-making and to hold institutions accountable.

SamSmalaidh Wed 21-Nov-12 23:37:31

Abuse, even if it is not life threatening, is unlikely to be a marginal case. Children who are beaten regularly or neglected, even if not to the point where they risk death, are unlikely to be marginal.

There is a big spectrum between life-threatening physical assaults and marginal cases.

Devora Wed 21-Nov-12 23:37:39

Yes, Flatbread, life threatening abuse is not marginal. But lots of non-life threatening and non-sexual abuse is not marginal, either.

For example, in this country I'm guessing that 'all investigators would agree a child should be placed' where a child lives in a crack den, frequently witnessing domestic violence, given class A drugs, never sent to school, under-nourished, no proper bed, dog shit everywhere, frequently beaten, insulted and bullied. Not life-threatening, not sexual, but not marginal either.

Flatbread Thu 22-Nov-12 00:17:43

In the US at least, you can be home schooled, so not sending a child to school is not a red flag. And lots of children witness domestic abuse. I think in your example, if you leave out the class A drugs bit, you have what is probably a marginal case in the study.

And the findings indicate these children better off with their families, on average, than being taken into care.

Devora Thu 22-Nov-12 00:20:28

And I think you don't understand research or child protection. But we'll have to agree to disagree smile

SamSmalaidh Thu 22-Nov-12 00:22:48

Sorry, you are saying situations where children are subject to physical abuse, neglect, emotional abuse and witness domestic violence and drug abuse, and are denied an education (not the same as being home schooled) - and you would consider that "marginal"?

Flatbread Thu 22-Nov-12 00:23:35

Err, I have a PhD from the same university as the author, so I guess I do understand research.

Devora Thu 22-Nov-12 00:26:11

Oh blimey, do you? Well, then I REALLY don't understand your argument. But my apologies anyway smile

Flatbread Thu 22-Nov-12 00:32:11

Yes, and statistical analysis is my area of expertise smile

Hence my wariness of emotions as a guide to policy-making. This should always be based on data.

Devora Thu 22-Nov-12 00:41:29

Well, I agree that policy should be based on evidence. But evidence is more than data (and policy is MY area of expertise).

Still can't agree with your interpretation of that study, though. And I can't agree that we don't have evidence about what happens in the UK, either.

Am off to bed now. Will be getting up early with a child whose birth family would have probably fit your definition of 'marginal' but were definitely considered unquestionably unfit to care for a child by everyone else who came into contact with them. There's some understanding that statistics can't give you.

Night all.

Flatbread Thu 22-Nov-12 08:49:31

Devora, sorry, you are not making much sense.

I guess you are a socials worker and hence trying to justify your/your colleagues decisions to take children away from the families.

This is precisely why the system needs to be transparent and data on decisions and outcomes available to independent researchers, academics and think-tanks.

So social workers can't hide their heads in the sand and make emotional judgements. Instead they, and their superiors, will be held accountable for their decisions and long -term outcomes for the children.

Flatbread Thu 22-Nov-12 08:50:10

Social service worker, I meant to say

Xenia Thu 22-Nov-12 09:54:23

I have read none of these things but what Flatbread is saying makes a lot of sense to me. On the whole your birth family do better for you and care and fostering is pretty awful and this is what social workers in the Uk think anyway . On the whole they work very hard to help those families who are having problems. I don't think we really disagree.

We just seem to disagree over whether it is helpful to have outside scrutiny which I think it is, people unconnected to anyone else, lawyers who are not linked, experts who are separate, charities, third parties. The more independent checks and balances the better as the decisions are so very important. As we all know power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

MrsHoarder Thu 22-Nov-12 10:20:55

Xenia, the problem is that vulnerable adults are protected by the same la as protects vulnerable children. And a fair proportion of the parents who neglect and abuse their children to the point of care orders being put into place will be vulnerable themselves.

Help organisations provide legal help to those patents by ask means, but there needs to be a statutory duty for someone to help then so people don't get missed. this really needs a branch of government.

amillionyears Thu 22-Nov-12 13:50:31

"On the whole your birth family do better for you and care"
Are you talking about "ordinary" families ,in which case I woud say yes,
or families where children are suffering emotional abuse, physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse etc. Anything from one of them to all of them and more. In which case the answer is no.

amillionyears Thu 22-Nov-12 13:52:03

Agree with your second paragraph, so long as the people doing the checks and balances are suitably behaved themselves.

Spero Thu 22-Nov-12 14:21:28

Flatbread, so you can't understand what Devora is saying, and rather than ask for clarification you dismiss her and an entire profession?

I don't think she is a social worker, but if she is so what? She has been unfailingly polite and informative.

So you would rather wave your conspiracy flag than engage in debate?

I am not a social worker but presumably if I continue to try to engage with you to explain the reasons why children are removed - read any of the cases on family law week yet? - you would simply dismiss me as another conspiracy drone? Or possibly shrill? (a word by the way you would NEVER have used to describe me if you thought was a man).

I had thought that post grad qualifications of the kind you say you have would indicate an inquiring mind and not only an ability but a desire to explore an argument in some detail - not simply dismiss whatever does not fall within the parameters of your preconceptions.

Flatbread Thu 22-Nov-12 14:36:02

Oh I have an inquiring mind. Which is why I look at research, not anecdotes.

I don't have preconceptions on this issue. Show me the data-driven research that shows foster care leads to better outcomes for children, and I will examine with an open mind.

amillionyears Thu 22-Nov-12 14:40:04

Flatbread, do you have any personal experience of foster care?

Spero Thu 22-Nov-12 15:43:28

The judgements of the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and European Court are not anecdotes.

My experience over 10 years at all level of courts is not anecdote. Some good hard data for you there.

I agree with you that more research into outcomes would be invaluable - I am particularly concerned about adoption breakdown rates.

But I can't take you seriously as you appear to be simply rude and dismissive of anyone who politely points out the nonsense of the various conspiracy theories. And no doubt, 'confirmation bias' is something that just happens to other people isn't it?

amillionyears Thu 22-Nov-12 16:00:33

A marginal case I can think of is when children are taken away because they witness domestic violence. I have to say, that, to my mind [though not ever having witnessed domestic violence myself], that that is one instance where I have questioned in the past whether that is enough of a reason for a child to leave home. Though in the case of that that I know, the mum herself wanted the child to go into care, as she didnt feel able to cope.

Flatbread Thu 22-Nov-12 16:15:05

Spero, you seem to dismiss everything as conspiracy theory.

You do know, I presume, that researchers have to declare are their source of funding, to allow others to judge if there is any potential conflict of interest.

For example, if a study came out saying smoking is good for you, and is funded by a tobacco company, would you label the people who questioned the results as crazy conspiracy theorists?

There are a lot of issues around pharama funded search, doctors courted by pharmacy companies, and the impact this has on professional objectivity. It is not conspiracy theory, but common sense.

You seem to think social services is above this scrutiny and scepticism, because they are supposedly do-gooders, and in your view, any one who questions this is a conspiracy theorist.

Amillionyears, I have no experience of foster care, no contact with social services. I am completely unbiased, and base my opinion on what data driven research indicates. I have no axe to grind at all, one way or the other.

If anything, the only strong view I have, is that social service policies should be based on research, and their decisions and outcomes available for public scrutiny.

Spero Thu 22-Nov-12 16:38:20

And I am sorry to sat Flatbread that I can think of no other reason why you won't come out of your narrow world and accept merit in other people understanding and experience.

I haven't describes the child protection system as 'shrouded in secrecy' that phrase.

Forgive me I have misnterpreted you, but for me, that deliberate choice of such pejorative phrasing showed indicated what sideof the divide you all - coupled with your rather energetic personal attack on me for not polishing JH's halo.

I agree with you that as a society we would do well to look long and hard a outcomes for children and how best t break the cycle of abuse. But there is loads of research, going back decades now as to the impact on children abusive upbringings. I was horrified to read the research into neurological development and how body produces and handles cortisol as that seems to be saying that it is to late if no intervention in the first year of a child's life.

You do not seem to have a genuinely open mind.

Spero Thu 22-Nov-12 16:39:20

Sorry, 'shrouded in secrecy, that was your phrase'.

Spero Thu 22-Nov-12 16:40:30

Sorry, IPad clearly having nervous breakdown there.

Spero Thu 22-Nov-12 16:42:52

And btw, I assume you don't accept the judgments of domestic and international courts because you seem to think they are on par with a cigarette company producing a report on lung cancer??

I really am baffled now. Have you read ANY of the judgments on family law week? Even a short one?

amillionyears Thu 22-Nov-12 16:43:22

Flatbread. I appreciate what you said on your post last sun at 21.51pm about outsiders not having a real clue as to what social services are like.

Do you not personally know anybody involved on the system at all, that you can trust to give you a bit of an overview? Or at least their personal perspective?

Devora Thu 22-Nov-12 18:47:57

Flatbread, I am not a social worker. I do not work in social services. As an adoptive mother I have an interest in the system and some experience of it (both good and bad) but no vested interest in protecting social workers.

I have a strong interest (professional and personal) in evidence-based policymaking and I still maintain that you misunderstand that research. I'm not attacking the research, I'm asking why you are ignoring its own caveats and insisting it says something that it is clear it does not say. I can only think it is because of your lack of experience of child protection in practice, so that you think there is 'serious' abuse (sexual or life-threatening) and 'marginal' abuse (everything else) whereas the category of cases being discussed are those 'at the margins' i.e. the minority slice at the balancing point of being taken into care, where small shifts in moving the threshold either way will have an impact.

Devora Thu 22-Nov-12 18:52:56

And this point IS important because you are basically saying that unless children are in direct and immediate peril they are better off staying with abusive families than being taken into care. If that was the stance taken in UK policy, many thousands of children would remain in abusive families.

The research makes the obvious point that there are families where neglect, even 'mild' abuse, are harmful but not as harmful as removing the child from the family. This is more likely to be true for older children. Removing those children will reduce their chances of being abused, but raise their chances of ending up in crime, pregnant etc. It suggests that policymakers and practitioners should examine whether by moving the threshold up a bit, outcomes might actually be improved - for older children in marginal abuse cases, NOT for all children in abusive families.

What is confusing about that?

Devora Thu 22-Nov-12 18:54:09

Oh, and of course this point is made only in the context of Illinois. You say we can assume that child protection practice is the same here as there; I say that's quite an assumption. It may be a correct one, but neither of us know.

Right, I'm not going to explain that research anymore. It's bathtime.

Flatbread Thu 22-Nov-12 19:04:24

Spero, I want to know the impact of the decisions, made by social workers and the court. What happens to these children in the long -run? Do they have better outcomes in life than similar children who stayed with their families? If the outcomes are worse for children in care, does it lead to a change in child protection policies?

How will looking at court judgements tell me about longer-term outcomes for these children? What we need to know are the effects of the judgements. Not anecdotes, but long-term systemic data on outcomes. And then hold institutions and people accountable for the decisions they make on behalf of children.

Amillionyears, Why would I be interested in a personal perspective of a social worker? How is that more than an unreliable anecdote? For example, I can (and have) talk to pharma executives and individual doctors and they could tell me till they are blue in the face that the pharma sponsored 'business trips' to resorts has no influence on medical practice. But the data tells otherwise and it is ultimately data that should govern policy-making.

Similarly, a social worker can tell me that foster care is effective, the system has loads of checks and balances, the home situation is horrific etc. But at the end of the day, if the data shows that the children are worse off being removed from their parents, then that is the outcome that is most likely true.

johnhemming Thu 22-Nov-12 19:21:12

flatbread is spot on. My concern as someone with a degree in Science is that the research on the effect on children of our approach is intellectually weak. For example when children are placed for adoption; some are never adopted; some are adopted and the adoption breaks down before 16; and for some the adoption lasts until 16 or later.

The research only generally considers the outcomes for the third category (and finds problems there). However, if you wish to test the outcomes of the decision on placement then you should consider all the children not only those for which the approach is relatively successful.

Incidentally Justice for Families won another appeal today (in this case for an adoptive family against the local authority).

amillionyears Thu 22-Nov-12 19:35:51

Flatbread, not just a social worker. Anyone at all involved in it.
The children themselves, either in it, or gone through it. Voluntary workers, paid workers working in homes, people who have adopted, people who have fostered, those in the law about it, etc etc. it isnt just sws.
The people that speak would speak from experience of the here and now.

amillionyears Thu 22-Nov-12 19:37:59

johnhemming, do you speak to the people above as well?
Not just families who yes, may well have genuine concerns about the system?

FamiliesShareGerms Thu 22-Nov-12 19:57:08

I think there a so many things going on in this thread.

On whether children are better off being removed from their birth family, I agree that there appears to be little empirical research that can definitely point to a best approach. Perhaps that's because the number of children adopted from care each year is so low that by the time a number of controls have been introduced (eg to take account of length of time spent with birth family, length of time in care, age when adopted, number of FC placements....) the cohorts are too small? Just a theory (not an excuse)

But I found [ this report] very interesting, in that it asked care leavers (NB not adopted children, but children who were in long term care when they turned 16) what they thought about their experiences. The majority said that they felt they were better off being taken into care than left with their family. That has got to be important in this debate, no?

FamiliesShareGerms Thu 22-Nov-12 19:57:46

Sorry, this report

amillionyears Thu 22-Nov-12 20:10:29

Absolutely Families.
Very good link.

Flatbread Thu 22-Nov-12 20:12:00

From the MIT study:

Children who stay in troubled families fare better than those put into foster care. Those who:

 Were arrested at least once:
• Stayed with family: 14%
• Went to foster care: 44%

Became teen mothers:
• Stayed with family: 33%
• Went to foster care: 56%

Held a job at least 3 months:
• Stayed with family: 33%
• Went to foster care: 20%

These findings are from a statistically robust study of 15000 children over a 12 year period, controlling for a number of biases.

Amillionyears, can you please tell me how talking to a few individuals is in any way comparable to actual research? If two or three volunteers tell me that foster care is effective, am I going to dismiss the outcomes data?

Flatbread Thu 22-Nov-12 20:16:08

To be clear, these are the outcomes for a cohort of 15000 children, of roughly similar characteristics and circumstances, who either stayed with their troubled families or were put into foster care

Whether you agree with the results or not, it is a pretty solid study. We need similar caliber of analyses in the UK

amillionyears Thu 22-Nov-12 20:17:17

Using data puts all of your eggs in one basket.
Do all of it, speaking to people, volunteering yourself if you are able, and research.

I keep thinking,when you make personal decisions in your life do you base it mainly on research?
Yes you may choose to if buying a kettle or tv, but for personal stuff like choosing a partner or husband, does not personal experience come into it as well as asking others about him? Are you married or with a partner Flatbread?

amillionyears Thu 22-Nov-12 20:20:11

That study.
Can we not conclude that probably the children who were taken into care were more emotionally damaged already, before they left their parents homes? And that is why they were taken into care in the first place. So it is not comparing like with like.

Flatbread Thu 22-Nov-12 20:41:49

No, Million, if you read the study, it controls for selection bias as these children have a roughly equal probability of having gone into care or staying at home

I don't know what being married has to do with anything, it is a personal decision. But yes, my professional decisions are data-driven and based on robust evidence, as far as possible.

amillionyears Thu 22-Nov-12 20:53:50

But your personal decisions are not.
And the children and then adults have very indivual situations. Which is personal. And cannot be wholly dictated by studies. fwiw, on of my DSs works in research. And he will say that it only takes one or two wrong inputs, to put a whole study out.
Since then, I have been a whole lot more wary of studies.

FamiliesShareGerms Thu 22-Nov-12 21:11:03

Flatbread, that is a very interesting study. Does it distinguish between those who benefitted from long term, stable FC and those who experienced a number of placements? Because I suspect that makes a big difference in outcomes

Spero Fri 23-Nov-12 10:56:13

I would like both Flatbread and JH to comment on the Ofsted report which Familiessharegerms linked.

Do you think that is useful research? If not why not?

One thing that struck me was children in care did not like the constant change around of social workers. I think in Demnark they allocate a key worker for a child who stays with that child throughout. That would be an amazing thing to achieve here.

But the constant denigration of child protection services by those who should know better makes mw wonder if we will ever be able to attract the best people to this kind of work.

Xenia Fri 23-Nov-12 11:06:59

Constant change is never good - although a bit of change/supervision is wise (some workers are forced to take 2 weeks off each year all at once in some sectors as people hiding things are found out in such periods - those handling money etc).

No one would dispute that having one social worker (or one midwife during pregnancy - I paid to achieve that) is much better.

Perhaps one advantage of the recession will be that there are so few jobs to be had that people stay in jobs longer.

Spero Fri 23-Nov-12 11:18:03

I don't like the idea of people being compelled to stay on jobs they don't like or can't manage well just out of fear there is no other work.

In almost every case I do, I will see at least three different social workers over a year. Sometimes this is due t a change of team - for eg from hospital social worker, but more often it is due to social worker going on long term sick leave - I assume from stress.

The job itself is difficult, the case loads are unrealistically high. And then they have to read all this Daily Mailesque tripe about how they work to a government agenda and make appalling decisions all the time. Most of these criticisms seem to come from those with only a superficial understanding of the system, or a wilfully misguided one.

I have serious worries about how the next ten years will pan out.

FamiliesShareGerms Fri 23-Nov-12 12:53:40

I think there's a balance to be struck between consistency and the sort of change that benefits everyone eg to ensure that all professional standards are being met; fresh pair of eyes to consider an issue etc.

Looked after children, almost by definition, have had a tough time and would benefit from consistency of SW oversight, with back up provision for leave / holiday / maternity leave etc. I'm not sure about one SW until they are 16 - though it might help ensure that SW are all very focused on ensuring the best possible outcome for a child, and being able to defend their decisions etc, as at present I don't think it would be really possible to conduct longitudinal studies relating to individual SW.

Spero, I share your fears about the impact of the cuts

amillionyears Fri 23-Nov-12 14:57:06

The sad thing is, that when children first go into care, and are often younger, they start thinking of a sw as a sort of parent. Which indeed they sort of are. As they make very personal decisions for the child, such as signing school notes for trips, and medical care etc.
But after a while, the foster child gets bewildered, and I have to say further emotionally hurt, as like Spero says, it is easy to have had 3 different sws in the space of a year.
And a certain resentment, and couldnt care less attitude can set in for the young person.

Devora Fri 23-Nov-12 22:53:45

I think there is almost zero risk of having social workers stay in post too long sad.

mysecretworld Thu 29-Nov-12 20:16:01

no alot get sacked for misconduct

Spero Thu 29-Nov-12 21:26:00

Let's see some evidence for that assertion. Link? Would be good if it isn't the Mail on line but I will take what I can get.

FamiliesShareGerms Thu 29-Nov-12 21:57:29

These SW being sacked for misconduct would be the same as those untouchable SW who are free to pedal lies about parents, then? hmm

mysecretworld Thu 29-Nov-12 22:35:26

Spero Thu 29-Nov-12 22:38:08

Brillliant! it is the Mail. My bingo card is all a quiver.

mysecretworld Thu 29-Nov-12 22:40:54

Spero Thu 29-Nov-12 22:41:21

ooo good point, Families, but it might just be a bit subtle.

I sometimes wonder why the Mail doesn't spontaneously combust - the child protection system is either staffed by utterly inadequate incompetent fools who need to intervene a lot harder a lot quicker (Baby P etc) OR a secret cabal of Stalinist abusers who sweep into to snatch the children of blameless loving families in order to deliver them into the grasping hands of would be adopters.

It is amazing how these two utterly contradictory options can be so firmly believed in AT THE SAME TIME. By the same people.

I am almost in awe at the type of mindset that makes this possible.

Spero Thu 29-Nov-12 22:42:13

sorry secret, the links don't work. And I am really ready to learn. Can you make them clickable?

mysecretworld Thu 29-Nov-12 22:45:18

COPY AND PASTE THEM ...............

Spero Thu 29-Nov-12 22:47:44

ooo so masterful with your shouty caps.

I suspect this might be asking a lot, but do you have any links to newspapers that are NOT either the Mail or the Telegraph?

mysecretworld Thu 29-Nov-12 22:50:33


Spero Thu 29-Nov-12 22:51:06

Just skimmed the Telegraph article and what is your beef shouty secret?

The family asked for the boy to be taken to the Congo. the LA appear to be bending over backwards to accommodate the families wishes, no doubt as they wished to respect their cultural identities or some such relativist bollocks.

But when it came to the crunch, they came to their senses and did not endorse an exorcism for the poor boy.

I agree this does not show the LA in a particularly good light, but not because they tried to squash the wishes of the family, far from it.

So what point are you making here?

mysecretworld Fri 30-Nov-12 15:40:05



Spero Fri 30-Nov-12 21:59:11

What is your objection to what is described in the Telegraph article?

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