Family rights campaigners have expressed ‘serious concerns that not more was being proposed to avert care proceedings’, in their response to the Family Justice Review’s final report out today.
Cathy Ashley, Family Rights Group’s chief executive welcomed the ‘many thoughtful proposals’ in the report by David Norgrove, chairman of the review, including plans to introduce a single family court, specialist family judges, to expand the Family Drugs and Alcohol Court and strengthen the role of Independent Reviewing Officers. ‘We strongly back the report’s recommendation to enable siblings to apply for contact without the need to seek the permission of the court. And we view the new Child Arrangements Order as a very constructive way of enabling parents and family members to make consensual arrangements about a child but with legal bite.’
‘However, we are seriously concerned that the combination of a number of measures, including interim care orders being extended for up to six months and proposals to significantly reduce the role of the judge in scrutinizing care plans, will result in cases of very poor local authority practice going unchallenged,’ she continued. ‘We regularly come across such cases, where it is the judge’s intervention that proved key in ensuring that the child’s interests were fully considered. We fear that removing such scrutiny will be to the detriment of very vulnerable children and families.’ For more information about the review.