Despite promising to give children a greater voice in the Family Court the government still seems to be doing little on this front. The latest disappointment comes after government spokesmen confirmed that the Ministry of Justice never enacted a policy allowing children to speak to judges.
This information came to light after Researching Reform made a Freedom Of Information Request asking what progress had been made allowing children to speak to family judges about their cases. You can see the request and the Ministry of Justice’s full response, here:
'Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request – 109623
Thank you for your request dated 12 January in which you asked for the following
information from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ):
In 2014, the government pledged to make sure that children as young as ten involved
in Family Court proceedings could have access to judges in order to share their
wishes and feelings about their case.
- How was this pledge implemented in practice (policy documents/judicial
- guidelines/practice directions etc)?
- How many judges or courts were contacted/ informed about this policy
- Since 2014, how many children used this policy and spoke to a judge about
- their wishes and feelings?
- Where children spoke to judges, how were their wishes and feelings recorded?
Your request has been handled under the FOIA.
The MoJ does not hold any information which is within scope of your request. This is because the policy in relation to children aged 10 years and over was one that was announced by the Coalition Government but was not implemented during the administration.'
In 2014, the government pledged to make sure that children going through the family courts would be able to speak to judges about their wishes and feelings. This was considered a priority for the Family Court, which was hoping to be able to improve outcomes for children by giving them the opportunity to participate more fully in proceedings if they wanted to.
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