Thursday, 29 January 2015

Abusive UK child protection practices recognised by Europe

From the draft`Social Services in Europe: legislation and practice of the removal of children from their families in Council of Europe member States ` (26 January 2015)

Ms Olga Borzova reports:

"There is a particular problem which I was made aware of in the United Kingdom, but which may pose a problem in several other countries, too: many mothers who are victims of domestic violence themselves seem to be re-victimised by the child protection system as the child witnessing such violence (or threats of it) is considered to be subject to emotional abuse and thus significant harm. This means that, if the mother has nowhere to turn to, her child can be taken away from her. This is a problem which should not be underestimated, as the impact of the crisis and the effect of austerity cuts on social services means that more and more mothers are now trapped in abusive relationships (with shelters closing) and afraid to signal domestic violence lest their children be taken away from them."

"Similarly, mothers with serious postnatal depression also apparently can have their children permanently taken away from them, despite the fact that they may well recover relatively quickly and be able to be a good parent if treated."

"Unfortunately, some countries engage in practices which can only be labelled as abusive, even if they are well-intended. The most frequent of them are: the unwarranted complete severing of family ties, often in combination with removing children from parental care at birth, basing placement decisions on the effluxion of time and/or recourse to adoptions without parental consent.

In this regard, frequent recourse to removing children from parental care at birth should be a warning sign. Indeed, the European Court of Human Rights has qualified such a removal as "an extremely harsh measure" and "drastic", and has thus posited that a new-born can be removed from his or her mother only for "extraordinarily compelling reasons"

"The former Prime Minister Tony Blair went so far as to establish `adoption targets` for local authorities from 2001 to 2008.."

"While these targets have been officially abolished, the Secretary of Education during our fact-finding visit, Michael Gove, himself adopted, has also put much emphasis on increasing adoption rates in view of the 7.000 children in England on waiting lists to be adopted, and has allowed 30 large private adoption agencies and a plethora of smaller ones to get involved in the process."

Fraser and I are delighted to welcome Crawford, who arrived on 28th December, into our family and Angus is especially pleased to be a big brother.  

We have really appreciated all the lovely messages and want to thank the fantastic staff and midwife team in Wishaw and locally who have been so supportive during the pregnancy and birth.

We hope everyone has had a good Christmas and New Year and we are looking forward to enjoying our new wee boy - it's a great start to 2015!
Children`s Minister Aileen Campbell with her two young children
The GIRFEC approach in Scotland is not much better.

From the `Report on decision making on whether to take children into care` (2013)
"There is currently a strong policy focus on achieving permanence for children more quickly..."

"According to the Minister, the number of children 
becoming looked after under the age of one has increased by 50 per cent since 2007, while the proportion of children becoming looked after under the age of five has increased by more than 25 per cent..."

"The Scottish Government should explain how the trend for increasingly younger children becoming looked after is compatible with legal requirements around promoting the upbringing of children by their families."

"In oral evidence, the Minister described tangible progress in terms of adoptions from care doubling, and large increases in the proportion of younger children becoming looked after."

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