Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Insidiousness of Closed Courts

Family courts operate in secret. That is they are not open to the public, nor indeed reporting. That means that they get no, or rather very little scrutiny.

Social services seem to operate on the basis of being too scared of some parents or careers, or perhaps too chaotic and over worked, to save some children from what with hindsight becomes obvious abuse, to being too keen to take children away.

There is very little scrutiny of the system whilst no one is dying horrifically. This leads to cases like this one, highlighted in a leader in today's Times by Camilla Cavendish. Let us make no mistake here, she reports it from a misandrists stand point labouring the plight of the mother yada yada, without much care for the pain the father is going through, but the facts are there all the same. A child is being deprived of it's parents because there is a suspicion that the father may have done something to another of his children by a different woman 10 years ago. He still lived with his other children and they were not taken away. Bizarre.

The child has been put up for adoption by Social Services. The case is winging its way to the European Courts.

There are two things that are fundamentally flawed here. Firstly the way in which the courts operate in secrecy, and secondly the prospect that a child may end up being adopted and therefore both parents and child deprived of each other for life before the case is finally finished. When the death sentence was abolished, a successful appeal would mean something, you could get released. When a child is adopted, that is it. You can't get them back. That you can then win on appeal and not receive justice is horribly perverse.

There are many things wrong with the family courts, and this is certainly one.


Serf said...

The man involved has basically been branded guilty, without a fair trial, and yet not punished.

What a sick and twisted system. He's either guilty or he isn't.

billy said...

Well, call me cynical but I think that there is more to this than Camilla Cavendish allows to meet the eye.
The standard of reporting in the Times has gone steadily downhill and it is now little better than any tabloid.
Read the first comment below the story and you have to pause for thought. The two individuals social workers that I have met have been decent, hard working people trying very hard not to let children come to harm.
I think that you maybe barking up the wrong tree here, Benedict.

Benedict White said...

Billy, there may well be more to this case than meets the eye. However the closed court system means we can never know what is going on.

I did read the comments, which were not there when I posted this article!

The answer is social workers, lawyers and courts vary. As they are not open it is difficult to tell. It has to be said that the interests of the child are paramount, but that includes respecting the fact that a child is more often better raised by blood relatives than other wise.

Social workers are damned if they do and damned if they don't because sometimes they are "over cautious" and sometimes they don't intervene. Some departments are much better than others.

billy said...

"The answer is social workers, lawyers and courts vary. "

Well of course they do. Just as soldiers, politicians, bloggers, and everybody else vary. Do you hope that social workers will all meet some minium standard perhaps based on zero child deaths or injuries?
I have a low tolerance of 'authority' but sometimes you have to trust even judges to act in a child's best interest based on the facts available, and that doesn't need to be held up for scrutiny by every Tom, Dick and Times reader, in my view.

Benedict White said...

Billy, There can be no perfection, and in many ways the hard cases have led to over cautiousness by some departments, despite the fact that in those hard cases very obvious things went wrong.

If a child dies and solcial services behaved in a reasonable fashion, then in my view they have done the right thing even if the result was bad. The problem is now that perhaps some social service departments are either too over worked or just professionally afraid and do things that are either wrong or just too over cautious.

I seriously do not agree that these matters shold not be opened up for public debate. I think public debate and discussion in the area of family law is absolutely vital.

As Serf says the man has been branded without trial and further more his wife and child are punished as well. That can't be right.

john said...

I have put more details on my blog.

Marion said...

Hi ~ I hope you don't mind but I have put this link on my website as I have just lost my 3 Grandchildren to Social Services by a load of lies. I have no confidense at allin our Courts as i have never heard so much Perjury by Government Bodies. Marion Bridger