In 2008 the murder of Baby P forced the country to stop in its tracks and take a hard look at the system we have in place to protect such vulnerable children.
It is of no surprise that there has been a significant rising in the number of children taken into care since Baby P's death. In fact figures show that the number of children removed from families has more than doubled in the past 5 years. Between April 2011 and March 2012 , The Children's court Advisory service dealt with a staggering 10,199 children who were placed into care.
The issue we are facing here is that there is a huge rise in overzealous social workers and the majority of children removed from their families who have not been abused or mistreated at all.
Armed with the vague and outdated Children's Act 1989, local authority children's services have the power to intervene with family life for the most spurious reasons ending with the child being placed in care and some adopted against the will of the parents.
'Risk' of emotional harm or 'risk' of neglect is often used as the only reason for removing a child. This is an inadequate and absurd reason to take a child and one of the most disturbing scandals of today. Judgements are made by family courts based on opinion rather than testable evidence. In many cases social workers don't even need to produce evidence, only their personal view that a child may be 'at risk' of emotional harm or neglect.
Judges are presented with allegations made against the parents based on no more than the wildest hearsay. Such allegations elsewhere in our legal system would instantly be ruled inadmissible. It makes a complete mockery of a system that has been set up in the name of 'protecting children' to ensure their lives are somehow better and happier than they were before.
Punishment without crime is barbaric and no parent should have their child taken on a mere forecast. Forced adoption and placing a child in care for no reason is a violent act, an act of aggression towards a family. The penalty is severe. To be stripped of your child and then abandoned.
The secrecy of the family courts threatens the centuries old tradition of Britain's legal system - The principle that people are innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. There are no juries in family courts, only a lone judge or a trio of magistrates who makes decisions based on the balance of probability.
It is for this reason we call for a reform of the Children's Act 1989. The Act is completely incompatible with human rights. It is vague on the terms of emotional abuse and thresholds. The Act is out of date as things have moved on and changed in 25 years such as more single parent families, younger parentage and a higher unemployment rate.
So we petition for the law commission to report into whether the Children Act 1989 is still fit for purpose and to clarify what is meant by the terms 'risk' and 'emotional harm'
Help end the crystal ball gazing by children's services and family courts. Help keep families together.