(Court of Appeal; Ward, Rimer and Black LJJ; 15 June 2011)
There was a violent relationship between the parents. Each had been arrested (mother twice). The mother contacted the local authority for help and support. The mother was very distressed and apparently concerned that her fears would have an effect on her 6-year-old child. The mother responded angrily to the suggestion that she needed help to meet the child's emotional needs. The school reported that the child seemed well and happy. On the basis of fears that the mother was contemplating self-harm the police removed the child who was placed with foster carers. An Emergency Protection Order was obtained. Contact was not taking place and the child's presentation deteriorated markedly. The mother attributed this to separation anxiety and sought the child's return to her care.
The Court of Appeal judges expressed anxiety at this case. The judge had acknowledged that harm was being done to the child by keeping her in foster care but had to balance that harm against the harm she was likely to suffer if she was returned to her mother's care. The decision was within his discretion.
Since the Court of Appeal had expressed its concerns, the mother had put forward the names of friends who had children at the same school as the child and with the local authority's approval the child had been placed with them. Contact with the mother had resumed successfully.