(Family Court, HHJ Duggan, 20 November 2015)
Emergency protection orders were granted in respect of the four children and the parents were ordered to return them to the jurisdiction.
Case No. PR15C00410
IN THE FAMILY COURT
SITTING AT LEYLAND
Thursday 19th November 2015
Friday 20th November 2015
HIS HONOUR JUDGE DUGGAN
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B E T W E E N :
BLACKBURN with DARWEN BOROUGH COUNCIL
(FLIGHT TO LATVIA)
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This is an application made by the local authority for Emergency Protection Orders in relation to four named children. I have heard from the local authority and from the children’s solicitor but it has not been possible to give notice to the parents as I will explain later. These are children of parents who originated in Latvian but my information is that the family have been in the U.K. since 2011, so it seems clear that habitual residence is here and that this is the only country with jurisdiction under European law. At a later stage the possibility of proceedings being transferred to Latvia will be given active consideration on its merits when I have heard from the parents.
The written evidence available to me indicates that on 12th November 2015 D was seen at school with a burn mark on his neck and another mark on his thigh. The appearance suggested injury with a rope. He said his father was responsible for the neck, an injury inflicted, he said, with a belt. He said his mother was responsible for the injury to the thigh. N was examined and was found to have bruising to the cheek for which he does not appear to have provided an explanation.
The parents have been seen. The father says that the injury to the neck was caused by him in unclear accidental circumstances which I am afraid need more explanation. The mother said that the injury to N’s cheek arose from an incident in school but on investigation the only relevant incident at school concerned the oldest child. The parents agreed with Police and local authority that while investigations took place, the children’s safety would be ensured by their temporary residence with the grandparents. This was implemented but on 19th November 2015 the children did not turn up for school and enquiries revealed that the parents had removed the children from the grandparents the previous evening and left the district. It is a concern that the grandparents, who have been entrusted with responsibility for the safety of the children, did not see fit to draw this development to the attention of the local authority.
It seems that the parents have been in touch with the Latvian Embassy because the Latvian Embassy have been in touch with the local authority. The local authority assure me that they will continue to keep the Latvian Embassy informed as to developments.
The local authority seek an Emergency Protection order to allow them to find these children and place them in foster care for a short period of time until the court is able to consider the matter in greater detail, hopefully with assistance from the parents.
Removing children from parents is a very serious and significant matter. It requires quite exceptional circumstances to justify that course at a hearing of which the parents have no notice. The safety of the children must be my paramount concern and any order must be necessary and proportionate to the surrounding circumstances.
I am persuaded that that high test is met. There is reasonable cause to believe that two of these children have suffered inflicted injuries in their parents’ care and it is important that they be protected from repetition. The covert disappearance from a placement agreed with the local authority gives me serious cause to believe that the children’s circumstances with the parents are far from ideal and of course it is in those sort of pressured circumstances that extremities of behaviour are most likely to occur. It is necessary and proportionate for the children to be found and placed safely.
The grandparents, I am afraid, appear on the evidence available to me to be unreliable so foster care is necessary for the moment. Supplementary orders requiring the provision of information by family associates are justified in the circumstances.
I grant the Emergency Protection Order which is effective for only 7 days. The local authority must now proceed to find and serve the parents and issue full care proceedings which will enable the court to control the development of the case.
The court is sitting late to deal with a without notice application to invoke the inherent jurisdiction to secure the return of children to the jurisdiction. Yesterday I granted an Emergency Protection Order in relation to these four children and I gave a short Judgment to which reference should be made for all the circumstances.
It was clear that the court had jurisdiction in relation to these children on the basis of habitual residence, the family having been in the U.K., it is thought, since 2011.
It has not been possible for the local authority to enforce the Emergency Protection Order. Their enquiries reveal that at some point yesterday the family were in Northern Ireland. Today they were apparently in Dublin. The information available indicates that the family are currently booked on a flight which will leave Dublin on Sunday at 17:05 bound for Latvia.
The information which I found sufficiently compelling yesterday to grant the Emergency Protection Orders drives me to a clear conclusion. The childen must return to the U.K. which is the only place with jurisdiction to consider their safety. They must find safety in foster care for a short period of time at least while circumstances are fully investigated. They must not leave Dublin for any destination other than the U.K. where the orders can be enforced. The local authority may need the assistance of an Irish judge.
The application is made out of court hours but in urgent circumstances which I feel I must address. The application to invoke the inherent jurisdiction clearly falls within the provisions of section 100 and it is clear to me that it is both necessary and proportionate in the best interests of these children for me to grant the order sought. A draft has been prepared providing for their return but otherwise incorporating standard terms. I grant an order as below.In the Family Court
Case No: PR15C00410
Sitting at Leyland Courthouse
The Children Act 1989
THE CHILDRENCase Management Order No. 2
Before HHJ Duggan sitting in private as a Deputy High Court Judge on the 20th November 2015
The Applicant Local Authority is Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
The First Respondent (Mother) is P
The Second Respondent (Father) is P
The Third Respondents are the children by their Children’s Guardian.
THE CHILDREN ARE LIVING WITH
The children are living with the father and mother and are currently in the Republic of Ireland, apparently having left the UK to avoid these proceedings.
THE REPRESENTATIVES AT THIS HEARING
The parties are represented as follows
(a) The Applicant is represented by Mrs S Hammond
(b) No other party is present or represented
The identity of the children and those named in paragraphs 1 and 2 are not to be disclosed in public without the permission of the court.
The proceedings are reallocated to HHJ Duggan sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge.
The Local Authority was granted an Emergency Protection Orders on 19 November 2015. The children were represented by their Childrens’ Guardian from CAFCASS.
The Court made a declaration on 19 November 2015 that it has jurisdiction to deal with the Local Authority’s application on the basis of habitual residence in England and Wales.
TODAY’S HEARING; THE COURT ORDERS
The Emergency Protection Orders remain in force until 17:45 on 26.11.15. Any application to extend will be considered on its merits after notice to the parties.
There shall be leave to the local authority to invoke the inherent jurisdiction of the Court.
The father and mother shall return the children to the jurisdiction of England and Wales forthwith.
The father and mother are prohibited from removing the children from the jurisdiction of the Republic of Ireland save and except for returning them to the jurisdiction of England and Wales in accordance with paragraph 10 of this order.
The orders at paragraphs 10 and 11 above shall remain in force until 1745 on 26.11.15.
To P – Take notice that any breach of the orders at paragraph 10 and 11 of this order constitutes a contempt of court and is punishable by committal to prison, a fine or both.
To P - Take notice that any breach of the order at paragraph 10 and 11 of this order constitutes a contempt of court and is punishable by committal to prison, a fine or both.
 The local authority shall disclose this order and the Emergency Protection Order to the relevant authorities in the Republic of Ireland and Latvia.
 Any application to vary this order or for any other order is to be made to the allocated judge on notice to all parties.
Court address: for filing/communication Family Court, Sessions House, Lancaster Road, Preston.Approved 22.11.15
Judgments Approved 5.12.15