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Zahra Pabani
Zahra Pabani
Partner - Family Law
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26-week deadline not being met
Date:2 SEP 2014
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Cafcass has published statistics showing that the national average duration for care application between April and June 2014 stands at 31 weeks. 

The figure is a two-week improvement on the January–April 2014 figures but remains 5 weeks longer than the 26-week deadline imposed by the Children and Families Act.

The Children and Families Act makes changes to Part 12 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 and required all care, supervision and other Part 4 proceedings to be completed within a maximum of 26 weeks.

The statistics indicate that only 12 out of a possible 42 Designated Family Judge area managed to meet or improve on the 26-week target. 

The best performing area was Truro with an average case duration of 17 weeks, followed by York at 19 weeks and Lincoln at 20. 

The worst performing area was Taunton, taking an average of 41 weeks. A further five areas: Central London, Coventry, Sheffield, Watford, and West London had an average of 39 weeks. 

In the View from the President's Chambers: The Process of Reform, Sir James Munby, said:

'A comparatively small number of exceptional cases apart, we can and must meet the 26 week limit. We can, because various pilots and initiatives are not merely showing us that it can be done but, even more important, showing us how it can be done. We must, because if we do not, government and society will finally lose patience with us. I believe it can be done and I am determined to do everything in my power to make sure that it is. My message is clear and uncompromising: this deadline can be met, it must be met, it will be met. And remember, 26 weeks is a deadline, not a target; it is a maximum, not an average or a mean. So many cases will need to be finished in less than 26 weeks.'
The average is calculated from date of application to court to date application completed as recorded in the Cafcass databases. Applications may be in relation to one child only, or many children. All average durations are presented to the nearest whole week and calculated from the total number of calendar days it takes to complete.