The Times reported today that figures seen by the newspaper reveal the number of applications to take children into care in London has dropped by 30 per cent since the introduction of the Public Law Outline (PLO) pilot in September 2007.
In some London boroughs applications to courts for care orders have fallen by 75 per cent since the pilot commenced, according to The Times.
The PLO came into force in England and Wales on 1 April 2008 and replaced the Protocol for Judicial Case Management in Public Law Children Act Cases.
The revised statutory guidance places greater emphasis on the work undertaken by local authorities before care proceedings can commence. In particular, they are required to notify parents of their intention to make an application to the court and to set out the basis of their concerns and an outline of their future plans for the child. On receipt of this, parents have immediate access to non-means tested legal help from a solicitor, funded by the Legal Services Commission, with the aim of avoiding proceedings or narrowing the issues to be determined by the court.