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Under the Children and Families Act 2014, new procedures were introduced with the aim of cutting the time it took for family courts to make decisions about whether children needed to be protected from neglect or abuse to 26 weeks, half the time these cases were previously taking.
Researchers at the University of Bristol carried out the first detailed analysis of the working of the procedures, known as the Public Law Outline (PLO), on the decisions made by the courts. These are decisions that have major impacts for children, their families, for local authorities who work with them and for all professionals who act in care proceedings.
The study involved a detailed examination of the cases of over 300 children filed in 2014-2015 in England and Wales. A summary of key findings indicate that:
Providing the busy practitioner with a comprehensive guide, bringing together in one place the...
This raised some questions:
At a seminar entitled, 'How is the PLO working?' which took place 31 January 2017, Professor Masson presented key findings from the project with contributions and reflections from:
The seminar concluded that early completion is important as it saves the parties a further period of anxiety - an average of 6 weeks in the study cases. It also saves court hearing time, a very important factor considering the pressure on the courts. However: