less than satisfactory evidence

April 13 2014

In a recent article Natasha Phillips wrote:

"One of our greatest bug bears about the family justice system is the quality of evidence that comes before a court. That evidence is used to make some of the most dramatic decisions any human being might face in their lifetime and can lead to the removal of children from their family.

The veracity of that evidence then, must be of the highest calibre. Too often though, this is not the case and there is an entrenched and persistent culture inside the system which allows this exceptionally important aspect of child welfare to go awry.

Wonderful news then, that judges across the country including Mrs Justice Pauffley are making a stand against shabby procedure and less than satisfactory evidence. The latest judge to get tough on slack social work is Mr Justice Treacy, who recently ruled that a decision to remove a child from her mother was unlawful. There was simply not enough evidence, and an active decision on the Local Authority's part not to consult with all the relevant parties. As is often the case, willful fabrication of facts to see the removal through was also part of the debacle." Natasha Phillips - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-26988954

It is always encouraging to hear of Judges making a stand against shabby procedure and less than satisfactory evidence, presented by those upon whom they are supposed to rely for probity and fact, concerning children’s welfare.

One of the largest employers of ‘social workers’ is CAFCASS – and their training material does not even withstand cursory analysis. They remain at liberty to make life changing recommendations about children in separating families without any guidelines as to what the ‘norms’ of parenting time might be, and have resisted all attempts to install such guidelines and training material for almost two decades. Parental alienation is rarely considered, thus, such reports often reward the actions of an abuser.

The same deficiencies in matters of contact are doubtless mirrored in matters of care.

It is entirely right that Judges should question reports consisting of statements that are untrue, inaccurate or otherwise misleading. Litigants need to step up in this regard (or their legal representatives), by presenting the facts as they are known, rather than as they are imagined to be. Also, I profoundly believe that there should be tough penalties brought in for ‘social workers’ who lay false or misleading information before the Court.

When making life changing decisions about children, in challenging what might at best be deemed ‘less than satisfactory evidence’ the Judiciary are – in many if not most cases – rescuing children’s futures!

Kenneth Lane
Contact Matters