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Can we refuse social services?

(30 Posts)
HarHer Mon 04-Jul-16 15:14:52


I just need a little advice. Last night my 17 year old son ran out of he house in a distressed state during an argument with his 15 year old brother. I went out to look for him, but he had jumped over a wall and was hiding in weeds by the river. He was panicking severely. Before I reached him a passerby had called the police. The police came and, because my son said he was hearing voices that told him to attack people, he was for a mental health assessment at our local hospital. During the assessment, my son mentioned arguments with his brother and the medical staff at the centre said they would make a referral to social services. This morning, the Head of the PRU that oversees my youngest son's provision, said that she had to inform social services that my sons were living together. The boys were subject to Child Protection Plans from July last year until February this year and one of the protective factors was that the boys did not live together (my youngest stayed with my husband).

Despite one or two hitches (like yesterday) the boys get on well together and they are making very small steps of progress. The boys, however, are very hostile towards social services and the main reason interventions were sopped from CSC was that the boys refused to engage.
If a referral is made, can I refuse assessment or intervention? The service was very ineffective last time and contact with CSC probably did he boys more harm than good.

McBassyPants Tue 05-Jul-16 05:51:05

In short, no you can't refuse a social services assessment. Well you can try (sort of) but that would just raise more issues and make it worse in the long run. Ultimately, the more cooperative you are the better.

You say that the protection order was until Feb, did SS agree it was then safe for the boys to be living together?

HarHer Tue 05-Jul-16 08:01:05


Thank you for your response. I apologise for the typing errors, my computer is falling to bits.

I will try to answer your questions objectively because I am aware that I am still quite raw from recent intervention by CSC. The Child Protection Plans were stopped (a) because as the intervention continued, the boys refused to meet the lead social worker or any representative from CSC; (b) CSC were satisfied that the boys did not live together and that my husband did not live with my eldest. My youngest lived with my husband but spent most of his time (except for sleeping) at my house. CSC were aware of this.

My husband has now given up his flat and my youngest has come to live with me. My husband is lodging with a friend. He has also declared himself bankrupt.

We are overcrowded in our house, because my eldest has autism and mental ill health and needs his own space to self regulate. Also, due to the nature of the CP issues, the boys cannot sleep in the same room. It is a two bedroomed house and so I sleep downstairs.

Additional to the problems I mentioned, there are all sorts of issues that would come to light in an assessment which would be identified as risks. Yet, in my experience, CSC cannot offer an effective solution. My husband has absolved himself of his responsibilities, but that is not a bad thing. He cannot cope. Assessments would show: inadequate sleeping arrangements; lack of supervision (I have to do some online work and there are short times when I leave the boys indirectly supervised); an 'unsafe' environment for my eldest (although I am vigilant he had a razor and a bottle of bleach in his bag when the police found him). There would also be reports (if the boys did speak to someone) of my youngest barging in on my eldest when he was in the shower (the lock on the bathroom door can be opened from the outside because my eldest has periodic suicidal ideation). My youngest thinks this is a joke, so there would also be lack of parental control thrown in the mix. The issues are isolated incidents which can be remedied in simple practical ways: ensure all harmful products are locked away ( the items were taken from my shopping bag before I had he chance to put them away) ; ensure my youngest is downstairs with me when my eldest takes a shower and so on.
Furthermore, my eldest is engaging with the mental health team and the PRU are making small steps with my eldest. Heavy handed condemnation with ineffective intervention from CSC would simply escalate the situation. I need to tighten up my act a little, but I do not want any more judgement and evaluation -

Oblomov16 Tue 05-Jul-16 08:16:25

I feel really sorry for you because quite clearly your current set up is not ok.
But I fear that SS intervention will just be intrusive, and they do not have the facilities/back up to support you.
You are one of those families that falls through the net.
A HCP said to us that we had been 'failed by the system'. I suspect you will be too.
I'm sorry to read this.

McBassyPants Tue 05-Jul-16 08:25:53

Wow, it sounds like you have a lot going on and it seems quite evident that you are doing the best you can given in all honesty a pretty shitty situation. For what is worth I admire your resolve.

As for SS involvement, given the fact that referrals have been made means you will be contacted and they wI'll want to assess.

I just hope you get a decent and understanding SW and not one of the jobsworths that are unfortunately around.
Without trying to sound judgemental, it sounds like you could do with a hand. But as you rightly say, there isn't that much in real terms that SS can do confused aside from providing a bigger house more apt to meeting your families needs (which we know won't happen). You obviously can't be responsible for your boys 24/7. The best thing they can do to help is to engage with whatever support is offered and try not to feel that anything is a personal attack or judgement. Contrary to popular belief, SS don't want to make life difficult or remove children.

I'm sorry that your situation is so complex and i'm sorry there is no real help or advice I can offer, but in relation to the original question, sadly you can't refuse a SS assessment :-(

HarHer Tue 05-Jul-16 16:40:38


Just a quick update. My eldest son was arrested this morning. Five police officers from the Serious Crime Department turned up at my back door, early this morning and arrested my son on the grounds of 'threats to kill'. I was a bit distressed but they would not let me come with him. He was handcuffed and taken to a police station 15 miles away.

He has, as far as I know, no 'appropriate' adult with him. He is with people he does not know, in a place he is totally unfamiliar with. He has communication difficulties and does not always understand the connotations of what is said. As far as I know, there is no-one there who knows him and no-one there who knows his particular needs.

He will be scared. I have been trying to get through to the station all morning and all afternoon. I am currently waiting for someone to phone me back. He will think we have abandoned him.

This is such a mess.

TealLove Tue 05-Jul-16 16:45:48

Oh god I'm so sorry.

Did they tell you who he threatened?! What actually happened?

HarHer Tue 05-Jul-16 17:10:48


As far as I know he has threatened no-one. He has just written plans about attacking someone in his diary. The 'plans' are always he same and they are part of his intrusive thoughts.

anotherdayanothersquabble Tue 05-Jul-16 17:19:00

Jesus Christ, what is it with mental health provision in this country. (My Mum was sectioned last year after being arrested, she was a danger to no one, not even herself and had a horrific time in hospital.)

I have no answers, no help, no solutions. But I can imagine how you might be feeling. Sending positive energy and calmness to your poor son and strength to you.

RegentsParkWolf Tue 05-Jul-16 19:16:11

Has he had a mental health assessment since he's been arrested? He might be better of in a mental health ward than a police station (though neither is great). I've given this advice before (possibly to you!) - when you ring the police station as to speak to the most senior person possible, remind them that your son has mental health problems, ask for their full name and tell them that you will hold them personally responsible if anything happens to your son. You've dealt with so much for so long - there must be some sort of help out there for you somewhere.

buffalogrumble Tue 05-Jul-16 19:25:04

flowers I hope you and your boys are okay. It sounds like you're fighting tooth and claw to care for them properly

HarHer Wed 06-Jul-16 07:53:29


A social worker informed me at 10 pm last night that my son had been taken to a CAMHS unit under section. She told me that the 'appropriate' adult he had with him at the station was a member of the Youth Offending Team (who he does not know). She said it had been difficult to communicate with him and he was very distressed. When I rang the Control Room of he police station (because it was impossible to get through to the custody suite. I was told that if I went to the station I would probably not get to see my son. I was assured that it was best to wait for someone to phone me. They never did!
I phoned the CAMHS unit and I could hear my son screaming in the background. It was too late to see him last night, but I am going this morning.
The police came to brief me last night. They old me my son had told one of the officers that he would kill one of the nurses when we were at the assessment centre on Sunday. I was with him all the time and I cannot remember him saying that, and if that was a threat to kill, why was he not arrested then and why was that not considered in his original assessment?
The police said there will be a strategy meeting. I think the whole Child Protection thing will swing into play and I don't think I can face another round of scrutiny.
I just feel as though we have been bludgeoned by the system and I have little faith that CAMHS will do anything effective except sedate him and detain him.

RegentsParkWolf Wed 06-Jul-16 14:38:51

Has he been an inpatient before? Really, they can be great places for actually getting you the support you need. The doctors there are much more experienced at prescribing the right meds and the staff don't automatically blame the parents in the way that some services make you feel. In my experience CAMHS as an outpatient and CAMHS tier 4 (inpatient) are totally different experiences. Tier 4 can literally be a life saver. Hope today was better for you.

anotherdayanothersquabble Wed 06-Jul-16 17:07:17

How difficult for you and how terrifying for your son. I hope you get to see him soon.

HarHer Thu 07-Jul-16 22:31:38


I have been told that my son will be undergoing a forensic assessment and if the results are X he will go to a Young Offenders Institute but if they are Y he will probably be released from CAMHS.

I am confused. He has not been formally charged with anything. Surely a forensic psychological assessment is used in court as evidence that a defendant was of sound mind (or not) when s/he committed a crime.

The YOI would be totally inappropriate fro a young man who has done no more than write the content of his intrusive thoughts in his diary and stuff household products in his bag.

Can anyone tell me anything about what a forensic psychological assessment can do and whether it should be used for a young man with a developmental disorder who has not commied an offence?

RegentsParkWolf Fri 08-Jul-16 10:35:38

Query the YOI part. He can't be sent to a YOI unless he has been charged with something and it would have to go through the court. There are forensic psychologists who work with young people with mental health problems who they think may be at risk of committing a crime but this would still be within CAMHS, not the court system. Is he being held under section? Ask for contact details for his advocate and get in touch as soon as you can. The advocate will know the unit well but will be totally independent. You should be able to see the advocate unless your son says he doesn't want you involved with his care and the hospital can test that he has capacity to make that decision. If he's under section there are lots of safeguarding procedures to make sure he is treated fairly and the advocate will make sure these happen.

user7755 Fri 08-Jul-16 10:44:01

A forensic mh assessment doesn't need to wait till someone had been charged for an offence. Essentially these hcp specialise in working with people where risk is present. It sounds like he will be assessed and if it is felt that whatever he has done is related to a mh issue then he will not be charged but will be sent under section for treatment. If it is felt that the issue is not mh related he will be charged and sent to a YOI.

I hope that you are getting some support through all this, sounds like you need it.

HarHer Fri 08-Jul-16 11:54:26


Thank you for this information. He is being held under Section 2, which is a 28 day section for the purpose of assessment. I will have a word about the advocate. I cannot see any way that his behaviour could be assessed as not being part of his MH.

As for support, well this is why I use forums.

user7755 Fri 08-Jul-16 12:54:01

I would also ask for a carers assessment, it sounds like you could do with some support for you as opposed to just support with the kids (if that makes sense?), this is obviously a really worrying time for you.

HarHer Sat 09-Jul-16 07:35:22


I have been to see my son every day since he was taken to the CAMHS unit. He is having several panic attacks daily, partly because he hates being in hospital. The Section has been explained to him and he knows he his waiting for he assessment to take place.

He was an inpatient at CAMHS for seven months in 2014 and for three weeks in June last year so he knows one or two people and gets on well with them.

I am trying to stay positive. I want both my sons to live with me, but to do so safely and happily. I know there will be an assessment. However, I want to prove that I am aware of he risks and actively working on them. We have no lockable cupboard, so I will buy a strong box with a lock for household products and anything that is obviously potentially harmful. The sleeping arrangements are tricky. We have two upstairs bedrooms: one double and one single. The boys cannot share and each boy (but my eldest especially) needs somewhere to regulate his emotions (my eldest does so by listening to music, relaxation techniques or (if it is too bad) screaming. Currently I sleep downstairs, which leaves the boys with access to each other's rooms upstairs. A lock on the door means my eldest could lock himself in and self harm etc.
I am thinking about having a partition across the double bedroom and sleeping there with my youngest. It is not ideal but it means I can make sure there is no danger the boys may intrude each other's privacy at night. Does anyone know where I could get a cheap, easy to assemble partition from?
I have rearranged the meeting with the voluntary group and the Dr at CAMHS has said my son can still attend. I am hoping the meeting will lead to some regular voluntary work, so my eldest is out of the house a little. My husband has asked my youngest with projects at my mother's farm. My husband is prone to outbursts, but my youngest likes working with him.
My husband is not going to live in the family unit again but he will support us in practical ways through driving and looking after my youngest for short periods. My youngest is engaging in home tuition well and has a careers interview at the PRU next week. He has a meeting for a n EHC plan in August. Without being conceited, I can say I have fought hard for all his.
I have already sent messages to various agencies expressing how I welcome the opportunity and there is a meeting at the CAMHS unit between CAMHS, CSC and the police, where I can express this again (My husband agitated the situation by calling the police on Wednesday saying that I was planning to appeal against the Section and take my son home. This is nonsense, but my husband has AS and often misunderstands the situation).

Should I write up my 'Safety plan' and present it to the agencies at Wednesday's meeting? Do you think that might help in any potential CP meeting?

Addictedtohotbaths1 Sat 09-Jul-16 08:57:51

I just wanted to say, you sound like a wonderful mum, what a stressful situation for you all.

starsandstripes2016 Sat 09-Jul-16 09:16:56

However as your son is moving into early adulthood and presents with very complex AS traits with you have managing and planning for with astounding integrity, I wonder whether your eldest son could now begin the assessment process for living in supported accommodation. This would address his natural desire for a more adult role but within in a safe and structured environment. You could then consider how to best meet your youngest son's needs in the absence of a fully engaged husband. I think still we have yet as a society to fully understand the needs of AS and again I think you are managing with such integrity.

HarHer Sat 09-Jul-16 10:48:46


Thank you very much for your support and comments. I think there will be a discussion about sheltered accommodation. Last year I contacted a group called Shared Lives who find supported living placements for people with additional needs. However, he was too young for their services. However, one of the problems he faces is that he does not have a learning disability and many of the supported housing schemes are for individuals who meet a certain criteria based on LD.
Yet I do remember several years ago, supported housing was available for people who were leaving inpatient mental health care. It may be that there is something suitable in that capacity, although with cuts to funding, these schemes may be few and far between.

starsandstripes2016 Sat 09-Jul-16 18:49:09

You are certainly well informed. Again, my understanding of AS is that, a long period of transition is absolutely crucial, so certainly worth re-investigating the original options. The political now supposedly puts mental health in young people as an agenda priority; perhaps there is a growing area of provision?

HarHer Thu 21-Jul-16 20:11:07


Just a quick update. There has just been a Strategy meeting and a S47 core assessment has been called for. The concerns are that I cannot/could not protect my eldest son from abuse by his brother. Fair enough, I know that. That's why they lived apart for a year. I have no relatives who would look after either boy, so the option I was left with, when my husband gave up the flat, was to take my youngest son in or ask for him to be taken into care. There was a very slim chance that I could manage.

However, it seems very unlikely that my eldest will be coming home. The consultant at the CAMHS unit told me that there were five police representatives at the strategy meeting and they were very agitated. They wanted the consultant's reassurance that my son would be kept secure at least until after the forensic assessment which is due in early August. The consultant said he took personal responsibility to do this. I had suggested supported living previously and it looks like this is what will arise. If he came home after the assessment and the section had ended, he would be on the police radar for years and so would his brother (and me). If the boys live apart and at least one of them has some supported living, then the risk of a situation like this recurring is reduced.

So now a Core Assessment will be undertaken. It will probably lead to an initial Child Protection Conference. I think this will either be a tremendous waste of time and money, because my son is not coming home, or the Local Authority may be seeking legal action to keep the boys apart. Can they do this and, due to pressure from the police, do you think this is likely?

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