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Childrens panel decisions

(32 Posts)
Jmcwitch Mon 21-Mar-11 21:18:23

Hi there, I don't know where to start, my friend recommended this forum.

I've had a pretty horrendous life and was unfortunately sexually assaulted when I was younger. I am not in denial of this, but other than that had a life the same as the rest of my friends.

The fact that I feel this way is an issue for the social work department in itself, they feel like I'm hiding something and I don't really know what to do.

Today the childrens panel decided that my daughter should be removed from my care, as I've been deemed to be emotionally abuse towards her for asking her to remove her feet from the couch when she was crying.

The childrens panel where rather verbally agressive, with the three of them shouting at me at once.

I have no idea where to go now, other than an appeal.

Thanks

Collaborate Mon 21-Mar-11 23:43:13

Where do you live? Your child can't be removed from your care without a court order. there would need to be cogent evidence that your daughter is at risk of harm were she to remain with you on an interim basis.

Don't say what city you live in - just give the country. Don't identify yourself.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Tue 22-Mar-11 01:08:30

Given the reference to the Children's Panel, I think this is in Scotland. And I suspect there's a whole lot more to this than has been posted.

Jmcwitch Tue 22-Mar-11 05:23:11

you're correct I am in Scotland and there isn't a whole lot more than what has been posted.

My daughters father and me have never gotten on and he's made various accusations against my family which have been investigated by the local social work deparment and found to be untrue.

Hence I'm stuck, I can not understand why they are okay with her beign removed and her school changed in 2 weeks, it's not like my daughter is only a baby, shes been in my custody and known to the social work department for 7 years, they've never had a problem with my parenting skills until Monday this week.

Collaborate Tue 22-Mar-11 07:01:15

Have you not got a solicitor?

Snorbs Tue 22-Mar-11 07:49:19

I'm afraid I know nothing about child law in Scotland. Have you tried calling the Scottish Child Law Centre for advice?

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 22-Mar-11 08:01:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

applegeek Tue 22-Mar-11 08:24:35

I do have a solicitor, I'll try the scottish child law centre. I was just looking for something to kinda help, as my solicitor is off for the time being.

There is honestly nothing more to the story than written, other than details which would identify who I am, as I know a fair few members of these forums.

There was an anonymous referral that the abuser had been seen with my daughter 3 years ago, and although that wasn't proved either once we were in the system there was no way out.

Thank you for the kind help people

GypsyMoth Tue 22-Mar-11 08:44:13

Er, are you op?

Ok, you've said three things in your OP which raises alarm bells for me and I guess may do for the panel:

1. You had a normal childhood apart from 'horrendous abuse' - they likely don't think you're hiding anything, more that you cannot engage with it and don't realise the terrible impact it's had on you.

2. The incident with your daughter - you have provided scant details. On what you have said only it looks like you failed to empathise with your 7 year old - why was she crying? why was it important for her to take her feet off the couch when she was emotionally distressed? Why were you not engaging with the distress?

These 2 comments look on the face of it that you have some emotional problems because of the abuse (please note this is not a criticism but a comment) and that you distance yourself from distress - you cut off emotionally to protect yourself.

They add up to the third thing (and probably why the panel members were shouting at you in frustration - idiots that they are) - they think you're failing to work with them because you can't see it maybe?

If I were you (and I'm not so please feel free to disregard my advice) I would accept all help offered - get a therapist, work with social services, say it's possible that the abuse had an impact on you that you haven't engaged with and that you don't want it to affect your daughter.

I'm a foster carer and a therapist btw so I know a little about it (but not in Scotland so I don't know anything about the legal process - all I can assume is that like England you must be open to working with social services and take any help offered and set up some for yourself)

Good luck smile

applegeek Tue 22-Mar-11 09:05:49

Sorry I changed my username as I'm a bit paranoid about people I know realising I'm using the forum for advice

1 - They do think i'm something, I wasn't horrendously abused, it was once (which is bad enough I know) and then the police where involved.

2- my daughter was crying because she had been upset at the weekend at her dads and needed hugged, she was wearing her shoes and I asked her not to put them on the couch, I took her shoes off so she could put her feet on the couch, my neighbours up stairs don't clean up after their dogs and it gives me the heave

I've been working with them for years, this is the first social worker that has said I'm emotionally unstable, and that has just happened since January, so I don't know what's changed. I'm getting counselling to see if it has caused me an impact, the fact that I am getting help actually went against me and not for me :S

Thank you for the impartial advice, it's nice to get it from someone else. I really appreciate it

applegeek Tue 22-Mar-11 09:22:02

quick update, my lawyer can appeal their decision, I can relax a small bit now, not like I will relax, since my daughters not here

Collaborate Tue 22-Mar-11 09:42:02

Good luck. Do try and get some more therapy though. Counselling is a good start, but unless you went through the whole gamut of therapy when you were abused there may still be work to do.

applegeek Tue 22-Mar-11 09:46:35

Im happy to do therapy, I think it's needed, the fact that I'm getting help just didn't go down well. I've never felt so vulnerable in all my life, being attacked by 3 people i've never met with no recourse and no chance to answer back was horrible

Thanks for your help

wasthatthatguy Tue 22-Mar-11 11:07:49

Jmcwitch I see that a Scottish Children's Panel is essentially a quasi-court with three members of the public as "judges". www.childrenspanelscotland.org/index.html I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. One normally has to pay for that. You could ask your solicitor about what I say below. The info also being of possible interest to "litigants in person" or "self-reppers". Here in England appealing in child care cases normally doesn't work, because the court above tends to say the court below was entitled to reach the decision it reached, according to the rules under which the lower court operates. It may well be the same in Scotland. If a parent believes a Children's Panel in Scotland, or a family court here in England, has taken excessive and or inappropriate action it may be better for the parent to launch a separate free-standing human rights claim, which I think is called a crave in Scotland, in the most appropriate Scottish court. It is a local District Registry of the High Court here in England. If so, I think it would definitely be best to say the child's Article 8 right to respect for his or her private and family life is being infringed or denied for inappropriate and or disproportionate reasons. The courts aren't much interested in parent's rights and are more or less only interested in the child's welfare and rights, which is of course fair enough. If there is no money available to pay a solicitor, the claim (crave) could be filed by a parent as a "litigant in person" on behalf of a child. I know which court forms to use for such a claim in England, N1 Claim Form etc, but not in Scotland. Sections 6 to 9 of the Human Rights Act 1998 are the most relevant ones www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/42/crossheading/public-authorities This lecture by Mr Justice Moylan has relevant background info re cases in England and Wales. It is also relevant to Scotland and Northern Ireland, because the HRA 1998 is in force in all UK countries www.resolution.org.uk/news-list.asp?page_id=228&page=1&n_id=113

applegeek Tue 22-Mar-11 11:40:16

Thank you kindly, that was amazingly helpful, you're a star

STIDW Tue 22-Mar-11 20:47:57

I'm not a lawyer either but in my experience human rights legislation is a complex area of law that party litigants (litigants in person) often use inappropriately which does their case no good whatsoever.

Did you have legal representation at the hearing?

A children's panel is a tribunal and like lay magistrates the volunteer members of a children's panel have undergone training. A Children's Reporter is a professional usually with a degree in either in law or social work who has undergone further training. The Reporter is responsible for due process and as well giving legal advice to the Panel they record the hearing. There is a right to appeal to the Sheriff against the decision within three weeks and Children's Reporters are required to attend.

applegeek Tue 22-Mar-11 23:33:03

I did not have legal representation, my lawyer has been on holiday and no one was available.

I have a right to appeal and have a reason as well, which is nice.

Thanks for your help as well

OldLadyKnowsNothing Tue 22-Mar-11 23:38:45

wasthatthatguy, are you Melvin? Nothing you have posted is useful to the OP.

Children's Panels do not remove children from their mothers because they were asked to keep their feet off the soft furnishings.

wasthatthatguy Wed 23-Mar-11 10:19:31

On the assumption applegeek is telling the truth and isn't aware of anything of any major significance which would be sufficient to justify the removal of her daughter into care. Maybe "the professionals" have fed info to the Children's Panel which applegeek is unaware of? Maybe that was why all three Members of the Panel were angry, ie they thought applegeek should have been telling them something she wasn't telling them?

I think it would be best for anyone in a similar position to applegeek to try appealing before trying a HR claim (crave). Filing a free-standing HR claim (crave) can be done in addition to appealing, ie it isn't an either or thing.

A common problem with appealing is if the procedure followed in the court below was correct, ie no obvious "procedural irregularities" occurred, there often isn't anything the court above can do, other than say they can't overturn the decision because it was "within the discretion" of the court below, ie the court below was entitled to reach the decision it reached on the evidence presented to it.... (including secret evidence?)

Filing a free-standing HR claim puts the facts back in a different court for reconsideration from a HR perspective. And I think will force "the professionals" to justify their actions with fully disclosed evidence.

Whichever area of law is relevant to any legal case, it is always a good idea to look at what senior judges have said in similar cases, ie they often say what the relevant law is, as well as describing the particular facts of the case. Judges pay a lot more attention to what other judges say than what eg a litigant in person says. So it is a good idea to "quote" what a judge says in para such and such of the transcript of a judgement. The search facility on BAILII (British and Irish Legal Information Institute) is good for looking for transcripts of judgements in relevant cases :- www.bailii.org/form/search_cases.html

I think child care law is probably at least as complicated as human rights law and anyway they overlap, especially re Article 8 right to respect for private and family life of the child, as well as of the parent(s) and other family members.

The Articles, of the European Convention on Human Rights, enforced in the UK via the HRA 1998 are in Schedule 1 of the Act :- www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/42/schedule/1

I am not a lawyer. The above is not professional legal advice. Anyone can contradict any of it, in which case I will attempt to provide further info and or correct any errors identified.

Collaborate Wed 23-Mar-11 10:46:06

wasthatthatguy/Melvin

I take issue yet again with your conspiracy theory ideas. The notion that the Children's Panel relied upon secret evidence is preposterous.

If the initial post is all there is to it (telling her to take feet off a chair when upset) then she should appeal. I presume that in the judgment the Panel gave the reasons for their decision. If they did, there must be much more to it than that. If you want to go and clog up the courts with hopeless HR claims then fine. Otherwise I hope everyone is giving your advice a wide berth.

STIDW Wed 23-Mar-11 13:47:02

The last time I came across a party litigant in a case involving social workers banging on about the HRA they ended up with a costs order against them in excess of £400k. sad

To avoid any doubt in Scotland the legal system in Scotland is very different than that in England & Wales. The language used is archaic and it is difficult enough for lay people without confusing them further. Rules and procedures are complicated and it isn't possible to just read them to understand. Before making a claim it has to be decided whether to use the small claims, summary cause or ordinary cause procedures. Applications are then made by summons, writ or in some circumstances with a motion.

There is no form for an initial writ. They are completed on ordinary paper according to a particular style and must contain particular legal phrases. "Craves" set out the orders the court is being asked to make in the exact form the court is being asked to make them. Unless someone is a lawyer they are unlikely to have the knowledge or experience to do this and documents are rejected if they don't meet "the standards expected by the Scottish Courts." Without legal knowledge presenting cases is difficult and not that many people represent themselves.

Precedents are used differently in Scotland and using English case law can go down as a lead balloon. Often it is irrelevant and courts here can be defensive about their independence. In any event children cases tend to turn on facts and evidence and there isn't usually that much law involved.

wasthatthatguy Thu 24-Mar-11 12:39:24

It probably isn't all that difficult for any parent interested in being a litigant in person in a Scottish child care case to find out quite a lot about how the cases are dealt with in Scottish courts :-

Go to BAILII and click the Scotland: Courts box, www.bailii.org/form/search_cases.html

Search for eg "children's panel" and look at the cases that come up, eg www.bailii.org/scot/cases/ScotSC/2004/76.html

Discover that the relevant Act is the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, ie www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1995/36/contents

Look here for info re Court Forms etc www.scotcourts.gov.uk/library/rules/ordinarycause/forms.asp

etc

STIDW Thu 24-Mar-11 18:14:06

Again to avoid any confusion as I said above there is no form for an initial writ. They are written on unfolded sheets of paper of a specified size. Form G1 available to download from the Scottish Courts website is just a model of what needs to be included - the name of the sheriffdom, the place of the court, the names of the pursuer and defender, craves, condescendence, pleas-in-law and signatures. Unless someone happens to be a lawyer they are unlikely to have the knowledge or experience to draft a writ in the style required by the court.

wasthatthatguy Fri 25-Mar-11 11:06:07

Perhaps it is more difficult to be a "party litigant" in Scotland than it is to be a "litigant in person" in England. I think petercherbi's blog, which I have just discovered via a Google search, will have some relevant info on this, as linked to at the end of this posting.

However, regardless of which country in the UK one is referring to, I think the most important thing is to try and get the legal arguments right. For non-lawyers, probably the best way to do this will be to look up and read relevant judgements on www.bailii.org/form/search_cases.html thereby discovering arguments which have failed in the past and so will be very unlikely to succeed in the future!

In child care cases I think it will always be best for parents, like the opposing Local Authority, to argue their case from the point of view of what is best for the welfare of the child.

In addition to any other arguments, parents could argue that the child is being denied his or her Article 8 right to respect for his or her private and family life for inadequate and disproportionate reasons and that the Local Authority's actions are not necessary in a democratic society.

HR arguments can be used within any existing proceedings launched by a Local Authority, ie there is no need to launch a separate free-standing HR claim to do this. However, if there has been an unsuccessful appeal in which any HR arguments were not raised and dealt with, it is still possible to challenge the decision, within one year, via a free-standing HR claim.

Article 8 and other "Convention rights" are here :- www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/42/schedule/1

"So far as it is possible to do so, primary legislation and subordinate legislation must be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with the Convention rights." (Article 8 etc) is here :- www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/42/section/3

A relevant page from "petercherbi's" Diary of Injustice in Scotland :- petercherbi.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/access-to-justice-improved-mckenzie-friends-advice-now-included-in-guide-for-court-of-session%E2%80%99s-party-litigants/

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