Spotlight
Family Law Awards 2020
Shortlist announced - time to place your vote!
Court of Protection Practice 2020
'Court of Protection Practice goes from strength to strength, having...
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance Tenth Edition
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance is an authoritative specialist text...
Spotlight
Latest articles
Resolution issues Brexit notes for family lawyers ahead of IP completion day
Family lawyer organisation, Resolution, has issued two joint notes to assist family lawyers in England and Wales ahead of the end of the Brexit transition/implementation period at 11 pm on 31 December...
Online filing is real-time on New Year's Eve: practice direction change to accommodate EU withdrawal arrangements
I have heard that there will be an amendment to the relevant practice directions to provide that online applications received on New Year’s Eve after 4:30 PM and before 11:00 PM will count as...
Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust v AB
The issue in this case concerned AB’s capacity to make specific decisions about treatment relating to her anorexia nervosa. She was 28 years old and had suffered with anorexia since the age of...
EU laws continue until at least 2038 and beyond
The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020.  But in matters of law it fully leaves on 31 December 2020.  But EU laws will continue to apply, and be applied, in the English family courts from 1...
Remote hearings in family proceedings – how is justice perceived?
The motion for the recent Kingsley Napley debate:  “This House believes remote hearings are not remotely fair” was carried with a fairly balanced 56% in favour and 44% against....
View all articles
Authors

Child Protection: The Statutory Failure

Sep 29, 2018, 17:12 PM
Slug : child-protection-the-statutory-failure
Meta Title :
Meta Keywords :
Canonical URL :
Trending Article : No
Prioritise In Trending Articles : No
Date : Apr 30, 2009, 04:22 AM
Article ID : 87397

Barry Wilkinson, University of Leicester

The recent tragedy of Baby P highlights a problem which is beginning to appear regularly within the ongoing child protection debate. If the language of statute is framed only vaguely, the assistance which it gives to users of the Children Act 1989 is inevitably limited and clarity is lost. Instead, a broader range of discretion is conferred upon the judges, thereby diminishing predictability of outcome. Where a court makes decisions as to the presence of significant harm, or the status of a child in need, only retrospectively and on a case by case basis, those with responsibilities under the statute will be ill-served. How much assistance will be gained, for example, by a social worker who attempts to determine whether grounds for a child protection order exist and (if so) which order is best suited to address a particular problem? Equally, if a family may be likely to benefit from services available under the Act, in the event that its membership includes a child in need, can that determination be made by referring to the terms of the statute? The guidance which statute ought to provide is currently somewhat lacking.

Baby P had been known to and regularly visited by social services for many months. Debate, over that time, focussed upon whether the child was a suitable candidate for care proceedings or whether the family was entitled to a range of support services. The issue of proceedings was proposed, only to be vetoed by the local authority legal department, due to lack of evidence of significant harm. A more comprehensive statutory definition of the concepts involved may well have made a crucial difference. The repetition of this dilemma, within cases presently pending in Doncaster and Birmingham (see Newsline at February [2009] Fam Law 96) demonstrates the magnitude of the problem.

To read the rest of this article, see May [2009] Family Law journal.

To log on to Family Law Online or to request a free trial click here.

Categories :
  • Articles
Tags :
Authors
Provider :
Product Bucket :
Recommend These Products
Related Articles
Load more comments
Comment by from