Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Britains family courts and the children's lives they have destroyed

More than 15 years after the Orkneys child abuse scandal broke, it's clear that little has been learnt. This week, the Times newspaper is running a series of articles about the family courts. They operate in secrecy and with little transparency. Where there have been a miscarriages of justice, families have had little in the way of legal recourse. In some cases, parents have lost their children permanently even after being proven innocent as their children have been too well integrated with their foster parents.

Take the time to read these articles:
  1. Times editorial on how the family courts allow miscarriages of justice without the possibility of redress.
  2. Daniel Finkelstein on how evidence can be fabricated, and how the authorities will justify it.
And there are a series of articles by Camilla Cavendish on the family courts:
  1. Family justice: The secret state that steals our children
  2. Family courts: The hidden untouchables
  3. Family justice: Your word against theirs
It's very clear that there are individuals within social services and in the child protection agencies who have their own agenda. Some are anti-family, and will push for children to be adopted even even after their parents have been found to be innocent. And there is little that can be done to prevent this. The social workers acting against parents have their identities protected. Parents are denied the right to face their accuser.

Social services are no different to the police (except that they regard their cause as more noble). If they regard someone as guilty, they will fabricate evidence if they have to in order to get suspects convicted. This happened in Orkney and is happening now.

The reason we have safeguards in our legal system is to prevent innocent people being convicted. Those very same safeguards should apply to our family courts as much as any other court. The argument frequently made by social services, the NSPCC and others is that children are vulnerable so these safeguards shouldn't apply. This is a spurious argument. A child's life is destroyed by a broken family every bit as much as it is by physical or sexual abuse.