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Non-harassment order on behalf of a child(6 Posts)
Just wanted to see if anyone has been in this situation and how you went about it. Has anyone sought a non-harassment order against a family member on behalf of a child? Is this a thing?
For those who haven't seen past threads, we have a family member who we are no contact with (well, my dd and I are no contact, dh is very low contact, only very sporadic text or phone calls a few times a year). This is for safeguarding reasons. Said family member is married to a partner who is a convicted paedophile and has tried to facilitate this individual's access to our dd. We have sought to work out some sort of relationship where this person (family member, not the paedo) could maintain occasional supervised contact with our dd as they had a good relationship before all this happened. But to no avail. There's been no respect for our concerns or the boundaries we've put in place, so we've ended all contact. This includes in person, phone as well as any form of contact by post (presents, cards, letters, etc.). We've notified this person in writing twice and my dh has reinforced it in a phone call.
Our wedding anniversary was in recent weeks and we got an anniversary card address to us and our daughter. Like literally, her name was on the front of the envelope and the inside message read, "Dear .... and .... and (daughter's name), Happy Anniversary!" Who does this? I mean, like, this is a weird thing, right? Even more so because it's very clear there is to be no contact, including anything by post (dd is old enough to read and can read her name on things so she sees it's for her as soon as she comes home from school). We've already a few months ago had to return a present that was sent to her by this person.
Anyway, Christmas is coming and I am anticipating that dd is likely to get a card and also presents sent by this person again. It's gotten to the point now (this has been going on over a year) where I am fed up and ready to take some sort of more serious step to prevent this. I'm really genuinely concerned that it's part of a pattern of attempted grooming - the forcing of boundaries we've created with cards and gifts - especially worrying because her partner was convicted of child sexual assault that was facilitated by grooming, using gifts, etc. She seems to be mimicking that behaviour now and it just gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I know it's possible to get a non-harassment order or some sort of injunction against someone who is harassing by email or post, but is it possible to get one as a parent on behalf of a child against someone else? And I mean, does anyone actually get these before we go the route of contacting the police? Frankly, the police have been pretty rubbish the one time I did meet with them about this and just didn't care, so feeling sort of doubtful and powerless in all of this. I guess I just want to know realistically what our options are before the situation arises (and I am certain it will) so that we can make it very clear what legal action we are taking as soon as it happens. I'm just a bit sick of this cropping up at every holiday, birthday, etc. I just want some peace and for my dd to finally be left alone.
I think you have two options. Legally, you could take advice about seeking a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent your relatives contacting your child. I dont think you would get legal aid for this however so would incur solicitors fees. Or alternatively you could ask the police to issue a Police Information Notice asking your relatives not to contact your child. In theory, if they then breach this they can be issued with a harrassment notice and then if they breach THAT then they can be arrested. However I think some police forces are now reluctant to issue PINS as prosecuting breaches can be tough, worth exploring though especially if your relatives are likely to accept the initial notice at face value and back off.
Thank you. That's really helpful. I'm going to do some research into these so we're armed and ready when it happens again.
but is it possible to get one as a parent on behalf of a child against someone else?
Yes. A child can bring or defend legal proceedings but needs to have "a litigation friend". It used to be called a next friend. Basically a person who takes responsibility to act in the litigation on behalf of the child and act in the best interests of the child.
Rules about this are here:
If the family member is a convicted paedophile presumably they are on the sex offenders register? There may be cheaper ways of getting the result you want without having to issue a claim for an injunction.
What about social services?
Thanks for that, PinkTiger. That's also helpful.
Yes, unfortunately he was on the sex offenders register, but the nature of the case (sexual assault but not rape) meant it was only for 10 years. That 10 years is now up (this has been dragging on a long time...) and his name has, as far as I know, when removed as he's done his time. Though even when he was still on the register and I went to the police with this in the past, they were incredibly unhelpful and pretty much slammed the door in my face (even though my dd is one of the children he has had access to without consent, though I do not think at all he has ever harmed her, but I think he might have one day). Apparently, sexual offenders' rights to 'privacy' trump concerns about safeguarding unless I wanted to actually open an investigation of abuse (which there was none, so obviously not).
No, really do not want to involve social services. I want this over and done with and am quite happy to pay a solicitor whatever it takes. But I don't want this following my kids through all of their childhoods once a case is opened and I just want this door shut and nothing more to do with them. I think the Police Information Notice will be our next step if anything more happens.
The police guidelines say that a PIN should only be issued if the conduct could amount to harassment but there isn't enough evidence to prosecute. It's more a shot across the bows warning document. The idea being that if it then happens again, you can prove that the person was warned that the conduct was harassment.
If the conduct is harassment then the guidelines say it should be referred to the CPS for consideration for prosecution.
You say you've written twice saying no contact. How long ago was this? Have you got copies of the letters?
If you want to bring a harassment case, you will need evidence that you have clearly said no contact (copies of letters, date of telephone call) and then evidence of what took place since (ie. a course of conduct of harassment).
If you haven't kept the cards etc, then you should do so going forward and also keep a running diary of dates of contact/ other incidents. In respect of past matters, do your best to reconstruct dates and a time line if you didn't keep the cards. A solicitor would want all of this info to advise you about the prospects of getting an injunction.
If you yourself have said no contact and you are getting cards/wedding anniversary material addressed to you, you may have a freestanding claim of your own and you could get an injunction yourself and bring your child in as a co-claimant.
You can get an injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 in a county court which is usually cheaper than the High Court.
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