Transparency Project Chair, Lucy Reed says:
'Our research suggests that the response of some local authorities to requests for recording or when suspecting or finding out that recordings are being made covertly, may be based on fear and distrust – professional anxiety appears to focus on the potential misuse of information or harassment of professionals. Our study suggested that social workers are not always assisted by clear policies or guidance as to the legal framework – and many local authorities did not have any written policy at all.
We worry that the current lack of guidance on this topic has the potential to exacerbate misunderstanding between parents and social workers, and is not helpful in promoting good communication and constructive working relationships.
There is a need for clear basic guidance so that professionals and parents can have informed discussions about the issue of recording and the underlying anxieties that may have led to the issue arising, so that appropriate arrangements based on the individual circumstances can be agreed. We hope that parents and professionals will use the document as a starting point or framework for their discussions about these issues.'
The guidance explores the question of recording from the perspective of parents and professionals, and considers reasons for and against recording, including some common misapprehensions about what law does and does not apply. It includes general information about the potential issues arising from use of any recording, for example the distribution of a recording on the internet or the use of it in evidence at court.A number of responses to the FOI requests indicated that particular local authorities were intending to review or develop policies in this area, and a small number indicated that the request itself had prompted them to give this area some thought. It is therefore hoped that the guidance will generate discussion and lead to some greater consistency of approach than appears to currently exist.
The Transparency Project is a charity launched in 2014, whose aims are to advance the education of the public in the subject of family law and its administration, including the family justice system in England and Wales and the work of the family courts. It seeks to promote the sound administration and development of the law, in particular, family law, by encouraging and contributing to the transparency of processes in the family justice system.Parents recording meetings with social workers guidance is available to download here.
For a detailed article on this topic see Lucy Reed's article, 'Parents recording meetings with social workers' at December  Fam Law 1515.
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