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Penny Booth: Private Law Programme Practice Direction: We need more staff, not more paperwork

Date:26 MAR 2010

Penny Booth

Principled intentions are to be welcomed - could it be any other way? However, welcome as this direction is for the resolution of parental disputes that so badly affect children at a time when all parties (participants and victims alike) need all the help they can get, is anybody providing the service of resolution of disputes with more workers? We really need more Indians, not more chiefs or more paperwork per se.

Time and employees seems to be the thing here - more paperwork to prove it is quicker will only work if there are more professionals working within the system. It seems so obvious and yet the obvious is what gets missed too often. Who would be a social worker of any description these days? Whilst Cafcass officers are not to be thought of as social workers per se, this line of work is one which seems to be getting more heaped upon it as every years goes by. What it would be useful to know is what level of support to the support workers we are going to get from this, or will there be simply more telephone calls and paperwork without more staff?

Mediation equals 'good thing' but that in itself can become a burden in the event of potential failure if there is little enough 'slack' in the system to make it work through extra time for speaking to people, finding out the problems, identifying issues for court-designed problem-solving and providing a faster isolation of the real issues to be sorted.

"A form of standard template order will be available to assist in this regard if helpful". This I gotta see.

It's enough to make any parent facing the process decide to agree with the other one after all.

Penny Booth is an Honorary Research Fellow at Liverpool University Centre for the Study of the Child, the Family and the Law. Click here to follow Penny Booth on Twitter.