Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0944.htm Sir, As a clinical psychologist who has spent several years as an expert witness in child and family hearings, I would like to thank Camilla Cavendish for her excellent series of articles on family justice (times2, July 8, and letters, July 9). There are a number of issues that are also worth raising. First, there is the difficulty in reconciling an adversarial black and white system of law with the much greyer fields of psychology, social work and so on. The latter are inexact sciences, regardless of how psychologists would like to pretend otherwise; shoehorning them into a court can be a very inexact fit, leading to experts withdrawing from the system for fear of being pulled apart in a legal confrontation. I have been criticised for reading social services files without obtaining permission from the court; this was perfectly justifiable clinically, but unacceptable legally. I have sat in meetings as barristers have incomprehensible arguments about cases that have little meaning clinically. Secondly, social work is one of the most undervalued and pilloried professions in the UK, its members often working for relatively low pay and under huge pressure from swollen caseloads. We do not, and never have had, a perfect system errors are made, either when children are removed from families when they shouldnt have been or when they are left too long in a family. We do not spend the money to invest in a root and branch reform of how services are provided to families at risk of breakdown. Thirdly, there is the problem of parents with learning disabilities. Such parents have little chance of defending themselves in court there is something grotesque about people with the bottom 2 per cent of the intellectual range having their children being removed by the top 2 per cent and are sometimes classed as unable to instruct a solicitor, at which point their case is handled by a stranger. Parents with a learning disability are almost certain to lose their children once in the court arena, despite having evidence against them that would not stand up against a non-learning disabled parent. Finally, while I believe The Times is correct to wish for an increased level of transparency from the courts, there will be no such increase from some of the families involved. While I am sure that miscarriages of justice do exist, many families in cases which reach the courts have raised concerns for years; been through the GP/community mental health team/special educational needs co-ordinator routes; have not responded to social services requests to alter parenting practice; and, even after court proceedings are initiated, continue to provide care which is not adequate to meet the needs of their children.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0943.htm Britain faces an investigation by Europe into secrecy in family courts, amid growing political pressure to overhaul the system. The Council of Europe has stepped in after allegations that gagging laws designed to protect the rights of children are allowing miscarriages of justice and children to be removed unnecessarily from their parents. The Times has been running a series of articles this week about the consequences of the system that keeps reporters and the public out of many family court hearings and obstructs people from seeing evidence against them or obtaining copies of judgments. Opponents of the system say that judges can be too ready to side with social workers and experts who want a child removed but whose evidence is rarely made public. Family courts in England and Wales hear 400,000 cases a year, mostly divorces and child custody cases. In about 20,000 cases a year, however, local councils apply to remove children from parents on the ground that parents are abusive or neglectful. The councils investigation was initiated by Paul Rowen, the Liberal Democrat MP who is one of Britains representatives, and will begin in September. It could involve hearings by a committee that will take evidence and be able to visit courts. It will come at a critical time for campaigners who are fighting to open up the system. The Government has promised to respond to a long-delayed consultation after the summer. Three years ago the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee said that greater transparency was required and restrictions on the discussion of their cases by parents should be removed entirely. Moves to open the courts up were quashed by Lord Falconer of Thoroton in one of his final acts as Lord Chancellor in June 2007. He stated that a survey of 200 children had shown that many would be anxious about the presence of the press in the family courts.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0942.htm The daughter of Josef Fritzl, the Austrian incest offender, has given evidence against her father to court authorities for the first time this week. Fritzl, 73, a retired engineer, incarcerated and sexually abused his daughter Elisabeth, 42, in a purpose-built concrete dungeon beneath his home in the town of Amstetten for more than 24 years and fathered seven children with her. One of the children died shortly after birth and Fritzl burned its body in an incinerator. The case was revealed on April 26 but doctors treating Elisabeth and her family have only now allowed the first questioning to take place, with her condition said to have dramatically improved after two months of intensive psychotherapy and medical care. Elisabeth has now revealed details of her ordeal for the first time to Judge Andrea Hummer, who will try the case against her father. She was questioned only in the presence of the judge and her lawyer, while prosecutors and the legal representative of her father were able to ask questions via video-link from a separate room. The hearing will continue into next week and possibly beyond that. Elisabeth's two oldest children, who spent their entire lives in the cellar, Kerstin 19, and Stefan, 18, will also be questioned by the court as soon as doctors give their approval. Their testimonies will be recorded and presented to the court during the trial, expected to take place by November this year, in order to honour Elisabeth's demand that she and her children never be confronted with their father again. Fritzl has given up on his right to follow the questioning of his family and even ask them questions, together with the prosecutor and his lawyer, via video-link
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0941.htm In its leading article on Monday, The Times accused the family courts of operating in a conspiracy of silence, that allowed miscarriages of justice without the possibility of redress. This was supported by the first of a thought-provoking series of articles by Camilla Cavendish on the family justice system. The system is far from perfect, and in her final article yesterday, Cavendish set out a ten-point plan for improving it, much of which I am in broad (but qualified) agreement with. However, the vision of a secretive system that removes children from families without good reason is an inaccurate and unfair reflection of the work of the family courts in England and Wales. The suggestion that there is a need to guard against any judges on a crusade against parents is a slur for which I have seen no supporting material in any of her articles. The Children Act 1989 requires judges and magistrates to regard the welfare of the child as paramount. While they bear in mind that the welfare of the child is best promoted wherever possible by keeping the family intact, cases brought before them are, by definition, those in which there are serious concerns that harm has occurred or is likely to occur to the child if left in his or her present circumstances. Many cases involve parents with learning difficulties, drink or drug problems and very vulnerable children. The leading article ended by stating that The Times would not be part of what has become in effect a conspiracy of silence against children who have no voice. In truth, children have a voice in the guardian and lawyer expressly charged with representing their interests, and the parents, too, have the benefit of legal aid representation. (The increasing threat to the availability of this is a matter of high judicial concern.) As Cavendish recounted, miscarriages of justice can occur, but where they do, judges will not hesitate to publish their judgments (granting the child anonymity), as does the Court of Appeal.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0940.htm Sir, The Family Justice Council is disappointed by the lack of understanding of the family justice system (times2, July 9, and letters, July 10). The distorted portrayal of the family justice system includes attacks on the integrity of thousands of specialist social care and medical professionals (who are working to protect children from abuse) as well as on expert lawyers. Ms Cavendish accuses the family justice system of being a secret state where social workers and medical experts are unaccountable. One of the principal functions of the courts is to scrutinise the evidence provided by medical experts and social workers, which is subjected to rigorous testing by specialist legal practitioners; the judicial task is to evaluate that evidence. The courts do not shrink from exposing poor practice by social workers and questionable medical evidence. The Family Justice Council supports greater transparency and accountability in the family courts, as detailed in its responses to the two public consultations published by the Government in 2006 and 2007. These responses were informed directly by the views of a panel of children and young people. They were clear that they did not want personal information, which could identify them in their communities and schools, placed in the public domain. The council recognises the vital importance of ensuring public confidence in the work of the family justice system. It supports judicially controlled access to the courts and has proposed reforms to guide the exercise of the judicial discretion. The council supports publication of judgments in family cases, made appropriately anonymous, to improve public understanding of this vital work, and believes it is of the greatest importance for children to understand the reasons why the courts made the decisions they did.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0939.htm WATCH THE NEWS VIDEO! Are we protecting our children too much? Read some of the messages you've sent in and have your say here TV Presenter Esther Rantzen says child protection has turned into a politically correct monster. What do you think? Have your say below and read some of the messages that you've already sent in. she says she initially started ChildLine in a bid to alert people that most child abuse happens at home, but this has subsequently resulted in "senseless overprotection" of children.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0938.htm I wrote on Monday about the many desperate parents who have app-roached me after losing their children to social services. One thing that they all have in common is shock at how quickly the system seems to decide against them, and at how doggedly it sticks to that view despite all evidence to the contrary. Some parents find that minor issues are magnified until the conclusions reached are out of all proportion. The opposite also seems to hold true: some children come to terrible harm because the system systematically underestimates the risk to them. Why does this happen? Eileen Munro, a reader in social policy at the London School of Economics and the author of Effective Child Protection, says that child protection work inevitably involves uncertainty, ambiguity and fallibility. She believes that it is human nature to form a view based on first impressions, and stick to it. This has a devastating impact in child protection work, she says, in that professionals hold on to their beliefs about a family despite new evidence that challenges them. It can be equally harmful whether they are over or underestimating the degree of the risk to the child. They may continue to believe parents are doing well, even though there are successive reports of the child's being distressed or injured. Innocent parents wrongly judged abusive can face the frightening experience of being unable to shake the professionals' conviction, however much counter-evidence they produce. The risk of groupthink makes it all the more important that decisions are transparent and open to review. We all know of the tragic deaths of children such as Victoria Climbie, who with hindsight should have been saved. We know much less about the tragedies of children wrongly separated from their families, because of the secrecy of the system. There are several types of allegation that are almost impossible for parents to disprove. One is emotional abuse. You can see why the category exists. Ill-treatment comes in many forms, not all of which leave visible scars. But in that nebulous phrase lurks the potential for injustice. In the past ten years there has been a 50per cent increase in the number of parents or carers accused of emotional abuse. It now accounts for 21 per cent of all children registered as needing protection, up from 14 per cent in 1997. Yet the term has no strict definition in British law.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0937.htm This week in times2, my colleague Camilla Cavendish has been telling some terrible stories of children taken from their parents without good reason and adopted against their will, never to be returned. And all in secret. Not a word to be published. I think that the story of wilding will help you to see why the secrecy is a scandal. On April 19, 1989, a young woman jogging in Central Park, New York, was attacked. That understates it. She was brutally beaten and raped. Her terrible injuries left doctors convinced she would die. Eventually she pulled through, although without a memory of the attack.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0936.htm Two Fathers 4 Justice campaigners today staged a second rooftop protest at the home of Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman. This is the second time in little more than a month that the group has targeted the Cabinet ministers South London home. Protesters Nigel Ace, 40, who wore a Spiderman costume, and Tony Ashby, 42, who dressed as Batman draped flag on her wall saying Stop the war on dads. Miss Harman ignored the pair after leaving her home at 7.44am more than an hour after raising the alarm. It is the second time the property in Herne Hill has been invaded. On June 8, Jolly Stanesby and Mark Harris invaded her roof to highlight the fact that the Government is making Blustery; Tony Ashby as Batman and Nigel Ace as Spiderman hang on to their brolly fathers redundant. Mr Stanesby spent more than 24 hours on the Cabinet ministers roof in a protest that began on June 8 and ended the next day. The pair were bailed by police until July 16 pending further police inquiries. The group said at the time it wanted to highlight the fact that fathers were being made redundant emotionally in the courts, and now biologically in the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.
Charities are having to cope with a fundamental shift in power as unnofficial advocates launch appeals and bring in donors through social media, a fundraising expert said today. Many are struggling to deal with the loss of control brought by supporters using Facebook, blogging, Flickr and other new media to promote their favourite charity brands. "Large charities are finding people taking ownership of their brand without them even knowing about it," said Tom Mansel-Pleydel, head of client servics at JustGiving. "But it can bring a lot of advantages," he told the Institute of Fundraising's national convention in central London. "It used to be a charity's relationship with people started when they became donors but now it can start before they even know about it." He gave the example of a boy whose YouTube video supporting the BBC's Children in Need had generated 160,000 page views. CharlieIsSoCoolLike has raised Pfund300-Pfund400 but is worth far more in publicity terms, Mansel-Pleydel added.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0934.htm The Family Justice campaign has inspired a huge reaction from families and parents wanting to share information online; This is a selection of websites recommended by readers of The Times who are supporting our Family Justice campaign. The Times is not responsible for the content of these sites. Many of them are maintained by people in their spare time, so may not be available all the time.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0933.htm Police investigating abuse claims at a former children's home in Jersey are to search a second site. Around 100 people have claimed they were abused at Haut de la Garenne care home on the island. Excavations during the past four months have concentrated on the former home where police have found shackles, a large blood-stained bath, human bone fragments and teeth. According to reports, the site of the second search is a Second World War bunker. Victims alleged secret underground chambers at Haut de la Garenne were used as punishment rooms where children were imprisoned and abused.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0932.htm Six witnesses say they were abused in a World War 2 bunker near a former Jersey children's home at the centre of abuse claims, Jersey police have said. The witnesses have alleged "serious sexual crimes" at the bunker, near the former home Haut de la Garenne, said deputy chief officer Lenny Harper. They said they were taken to the bunker and abused by staff from the former home, which is about 500 metres away. A specialist search dog is due to be sent into the bunker later. 'Serious sexual crimes' Mr Harper, who is leading the investigation, said: "The allegation is that residents from Haut de la Garenne were taken to the bunker by members of staff and abused there. "We are talking about six witness statements to us concerning the bunker. Six different witnesses and different incidents." Mr Harper said there were a number of different entrances to the bunker, which would be worked through methodically.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0931.htm Personal experiences of the family court system Sir, I fully share the concern expressed in your leading article (July 7) and by Camilla Cavendish in times2 that the removal of a child from its parents is the most draconian intervention of the State in a familys life and that the decision-making process leading to such removal needs to be extremely carefully scrutinised by the family court. Nor do I on a personal level, as someone who has specialised in the field of child protection for more than 20 years, object to more media reporting of the cases that I am involved in. Where I disagree, however, is in the suggestion that parents and children involved in these cases wish to be identified so that the so-called conspiracy of silence between the family courts and social services is broken. In my experience, the vast majority of parents in these cases, for cogent reasons, do not want their identity made public. These cases involve extremely personal information. Clients of mine last year, parents of a child who had been severely injured in their care, made their position perfectly clear. They preferred to tell all those who lived near them that their child was ill in hospital with a rare disease, rather than admit that he was in foster care, for fear that their flat would be torched by their neighbours if the truth was known. In addition, all the research so far shows that children wish to retain their anonymity in these cases, wish for the details of their cases to remain confidential and for obvious reasons, do not wish their classmates to know that they are in care nor the reasons for that. The position is not as simple as your leader suggests.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0930.htm TWENTY years ago the Butler-Sloss report on the Cleveland Child Sex Abuse Crisis was published. Here the Evening Gazette takes a look back at the crisis which rocked Teesside, speaks to some of those caught up in the crisis, and looks at the results of the Butler-Sloss inquiry. CHILD SEX ABUSE HORROR, screamed the Gazette headline. Sexual abuse of children in Cleveland has reached such horrifying proportions 24 youngsters were being treated in Middlesbrough General Hospital on just one day, the reports first paragraph read. Physical and sexual abuse of children in the county had increased dramatically and beyond all bounds. The statement was made at a South Cleveland Community Health Council meeting. The then director of social services Michael Bishop was asked if the hospital was the right place for the children to be. Mr Bishop told the meeting the consultant had not been willing to discharge them. That consultant was Dr Marietta Higgs - a name that can still send some Teessiders blood cold 20 years on. Before the story was published the number of articles regarding child abuse in the Gazette had been steadily increasing. Six weeks later and for the next 18-months the paper was running virtually daily updates on the saga, as the nightmare that would become known as the Cleveland Child Sex Abuse Scandal began to unfold. Between February and July of 1987 121 children on Teesside were taken from their families and placed in care.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0929.htm A CHILD molester who used his dog to threaten his young victims was found to have a cache of child pornography and images of bestiality stored on his computer. A judge today ordered that John Wilson should be detained in prison ahead of sentencing because of the "extremely serious" nature of the offences. Wilson, 46, admitted indecency offences against two girls. The High Court in Edinburgh heard that on one occasion he had been left alone with one of his victims while the rest of her family went to church. The teenager was watching television in a bedroom when he came in and pushed her onto a bed. He performed a sex act on the 14-year-old and grabbed the dog and held it to her. When the victim tried to push the animal away he held her down by the arms and legs. The court heard that Wilson, of Andrew Avenue, Bathgate, West Lothian, had previously molested the same victim as a younger child when he was left to look after her as her mother went out working in the evening. Wilson also told the victim when she was 16 that he would give her cigarettes but wanted "something in return" and exposed himself and tried to get her to carry out a sex act on him. The girl's behaviour later became aggressive and violent and she was referred to social services and offered "anger management." A second girl, who was aged 11 at the time, was also abused by Wilson. One of the victims was interviewed by police in June 2006 and the following day they received information about images stored on Wilson's computer.
Full Story & Video: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0928.htm New scheme for first-time mums (BBC News) A pilot scheme to help vulnerable first-time mums in County Durham has been a success and is being rolled out in more areas. Catherine Marston reports. WATCH THE VIDEO NEWS STORY!
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0927.htm FIVE days after a troubled 15-year-old boy was forced to spend the night in a Garda station, social workers still havent called to see how he is, his mother has claimed. The boys mother, who readily admits being unable to cope with him, said her son had been let down by social services. They havent even bothered to pick up the phone and ask me if hes okay, she said. Her son had been put in the care of a foster family, who also found it impossible to cope with him. He left their home last Wednesday and phoned his mother, threatening to harm himself. The foster family, who were concerned for his welfare, contacted gardai who found the youth in Charleville, Co Cork. Gardai made a number of unsuccessful attempts to contact social workers and were forced to provide a makeshift bed for him in the public office at Mallow Garda Station. The following morning gardai managed to contact the HSE, and one of its social workers rang the boys mother.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0926.htm Ms Cavendish repeats the mistaken view that Professor Sir Roy Meadow was misleading; a careful review of the transcripts indicates that not only was the jury advised appropriately by the judge, but that it was counsels questioning that played a key part. Readers should note that he was never struck off the medical register. It may be worth considering why the Family Division has long waits for experts, and that almost no paediatrician wishes to engage in child protection. Is it that reporting that ignores the subtleties or fails to gather the whole picture is partly responsible? Interestingly, the answer to these discrepancies is precisely as Ms Cavendish offers greater openness. The innocent have nothing to fear.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0925.htm Angry relatives have demanded answers after the sudden closure of a private nursing home in Bradford. A total of 27 residents, some bedridden, confused and suffering from dementia, have been transferred to several other homes after The Knoll, in Leeds Road, Greengates, was ordered to shut. Peter Kay, assistant director of adult services and chairman of the Bradford District Safeguarding Adults Board, said the decision had been taken at an emergency meeting due to risks to residents. A Bradford Council spokesman later added that staff shortages were to blame. Social services bosses say efforts were made to consult relatives but one woman, who contacted the Telegraph & Argus, said she only found out her mother was being moved when the son of another resident phoned her at 5.30pm last Friday to say her 82-year-old mother was alone in her room in tears. When she arrived she says there was nowhere left to park and people were trying to remove the furniture and personal belongings of residents as best they could. Mums specialist wheelchair has gone missing and her electric rise and fall chair is still in the home, we couldnt physically move it in time, said the woman, who did not want to be named for fear that her mothers care would suffer. Mum didnt arrive at her new home until after midnight. We went back to The Knoll on Saturday and there wasnt even a notice on the door to tell relatives what was happening and there has been silence from social services ever since.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0924.htm An inquiry into child protection on Jersey has found no evidence of current institutional or systematic abuse of children on the island. UK social work expert Andrew Williamson, who was commissioned by the Jersey government to undertake the review last August, said childrens homes were safe but recommended the creation of a childrens minister for the island and external scrutiny of services. He also called for a whistleblowing policy for staff, saying that many felt unsupported when facing difficulties. The review, published over the weekend, was prompted by concerns from UK social worker Simon Bellwood and former health and social services minister Stuart Syvret. Solitary confinement in secure care Bellwood was sacked from his post as manager of the Greenfields secure unit on the island after criticising a policy of locking children in solitary confinement, known as Grand Prix. Syvret, who supported Bellwoods case, claimed there was widespread malpractice in childrens services. Williamson found that the Grand Prix system was no longer in operation, and that a welfare model of care was now in place at Greenfields. He said that while it had not been possible to know with any certainty whether the system had been overused or abused in the past, action should be take if evidence came to light.
Click Here To Get Help To Get Your Paper from Professional Services! http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/Getting_Your_Paperwork_and_Documents_from_Professional_Services.htm This Is A Sample Letter To Use When Asking For Your Paperwork and Documents from Services. Services Such As The Police, Social Services, Solicitors, Hospital's, Doctors (G.P.), Courts, Contact centre's & Other Services You May Have Used! When Asking for Your Paperwork, Please Bare In Mind That Each Services Can Charge A Reasonable Fee For This Paperwork.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0923.htm How did authorities manage to miss a case of sex abuse against two young sisters for 30 years, asks Michael Howie THREE decades after a "catalogue of horrors" were inflicted on two defenceless little sisters, justice finally caught up with Norman Carden. Carden, 61, from Paisley, was jailed for ten years in May for what a judge described as "despicable conduct" towards the girls. Details of the case made harrowing reading. The sadist repeatedly exposed himself to the girls and made them perform sex acts. The sisters were also forced to dance naked for his friends, their faces were rubbed in dog faeces, and one was thrashed with a belt. Alarmingly, Carden was only made to face his depraved past some 20 years after social workers were first told of the abuse, which spanned nearly a decade. The case has raised searching questions of the authorities involved. First, how could they have failed to detect the abuse? Perhaps more seriously, how could they have refused to inform the police after one of the girls found the courage to speak out? Child protection campaigners are calling for an independent inquiry into the handling of "historic" sex abuse cases such as that of Carden to ensure lessons are learned to prevent needless suffering in the future. The Scotsman has learned that the sisters were the subject of a social work supervision order as the abuse went on. Officials from Strathclyde Regional Council's social work department were concerned they were being neglected, as Carden was an alcoholic. However, they never seriously suspected he was involved in their abuse, even though one of his friends was investigated and arrested by police for sexually abusing the children.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0922.htm When Karen and Jon Carr adopted four-year-old Lucy as a sister for their six-year-old birth daughter Hannah, they though they'd completed their happy family. But the adoption was fraught with difficulty, and the turmoil that followed brought the whole family to breaking point, forcing Karen and Jon to do the unthinkable Once we'd made the decision, we were very excited. We would have a new family, and a sister for Hannah. We'd always wanted another child, a playmate, but by the time we got round to doing anything about it Hannah was six, which we felt was too big an age gap. By adopting, we'd be able to choose a girl just a couple of years younger to be her sister. We thought that, with love, everything would fall into place. We'd just returned from holiday in 1999 when Valerie, the social worker who'd assessed us for adoption, contacted us to say that a child had been identified who matched our hopes: a little girl called Lucy, aged four. Within days, Lucy's social workers were sitting in our living room, drinking tea and discussing her history. We were shown a photo of her aged two, and saw a video of her around the same age. They said she was a bright child and that our situation was ideal because our family replicated her two previous homes, with Lucy being the younger of two sisters. (Lucy had been living with a foster sister, Shahida, who was two years older than her, and she also had an older birth sister, Jade.) We had no reason to doubt this logic. From then on, the introductions had to be done in haste, as her foster carer, Tracy, was being admitted to hospital and the social workers didn't want Lucy going to a new carer for just a few weeks. Instead of the usual fortnight introductory period for adoptions, we were given two days in which to meet and bond with Lucy. Tracy had said that Lucy wouldn't be particularly bothered by the move; she'd walk away without a backward glance. It amazes me now that this wasn't considered a problem.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0921.htm SOCIAL workers and their managers involved with the ill-fated McElhill/ McGovern families of Lammy, who perished in an arson attack at their home in November last year were incompetent and failed to meet statutory requirements, according to the independent report into the matter released on Tuesday. Though there have been cautious welcomes for the report fromthe Western Health Trust and Omagh District Council, there is little in the report that can offer any comfort to Social Services in Omagh. In the 30,000 word document almost every page details failing after failing on the part of Social Services, and on the part of police and other agencies, though not explicitly in relation to the McElhill family. Rather, it would appear that many of the deficiencies were in respect of the failure of social workers to remove another child a non-family member from the household. On September 11 last year the PSNI were called out by Lorraine McGovern to 4 Lammy Crescent, to an incident involving the mother of a teenage child (staying with the family). PSNI officers contacted the Trust's out-of-hours service social work service seeking the approval of Social Services for the teenage child to remain at 4 Lammy Crescent overnight. This approval was given by the co-ordinator without any checks being carried out. One paragraph in the report reads: "Scant details were recorded in files which were of a poor professional standard. Statutory requirements were not met in relation to the visits to the teenage child who was placed on the (at risk) register. There was no evidence of planned and structured work linked to the case plan. "The events between August 3, 2007 and November 13, 2007, show that competent professional practice was not followed in a number of instances particularly in responding to concerns raised and referrals made, conducting assessments, risk assessments and working with other disciplines and agencies. The professional practices of the relevant social workers were not adequately monitored supported or challenged by senior staff and case files were not adequately examined and monitored during this period."
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0920.htm Why are our young people so unhappy? Because we have become a society that fears, demonises and silences them. The fault is ours, not theirs "We are the world. We are the children. We are the ones who make a brighter day," sang that well-known lover of children, Michael Jackson. Children making a brighter day? Not in this country, it seems. Where are these magical children who come with a promise, not a threat? They certainly haven't featured in the headlines of the past few years, unless they have gone missing. Nor in the endless discussion that tells us both that our children are awful and that to be a child in Britain is to be in a pretty bad place. "We have the unhappiest children in the world," chirruped David Cameron in his recent speech on social revival. Makes you feel proud, doesn't it? Are we a nation of actual child-haters? Or are we so frightened of our children these days that, like mice which have been disturbed, we may eat them? Certainly, if one ploughs through the "expert overviews" from everyone from the UN to Ofsted, it becomes clear we are failing our children. Yet somehow this monumental failure cannot be admitted politically, or policy radically altered. By nearly all the criteria by which we measure the well-being of our kids, we come very low in the league of industrialised countries. We lag behind in terms of relative poverty: the number of children living in poverty has risen by 100,000 since 2005, despite the government's efforts. We rate low in the quality of children's relationships with their parents and with their peers, in basic child health and safety. Our kids rate highly only for "risk-taking" (sex, drugs and alcohol) and, unsurprisingly, low for subjective well-being. The kids ain't all right and they are saying it themselves. The Children's Society claimed in 2006 that up to a fifth of our kids have mental health problems, and one in 12 is self-harming. The latest UN report compiled by the children's commissioners of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland adds to this bleak impression. We incarcerate more children than any other country in western Europe, locking up nearly 3,000 under-18s last year. Thirty children have died in custody since 1990 but there has never been a public inquiry into conditions in youth detention centres. We are actually breaching the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in several areas. Depressed? I am. I need a break, so I wander down my local street, where mothers stop to give their toddlers baby cappuccinos or whatever those things are called. There is yet another newly opened expensive children's clothes shop with designer high-chairs and special baby jewellery. I was here a few days ago - my youngest was drumming in a parade as her school had some Brazilians in to do a carnival workshop. How does this bubble of cosiness fit with these horrendous statistics? Are some children just doing fine while those close by suffer? Well, yes. But we turn a blind eye. In the fifth-richest country in the world, nearly four million children are growing up in "relative poverty". We mostly don't care: half of the respondents to a recent survey didn't accept the concept of "relative poverty". We don't even agree on what counts as a child. If I say we lock up too many children, many would agree. If I say we lock up too many 16-year-old "hoodies", many wouldn't. If the British are generally rubbish at parenting, we are spectacularly bad with our teenagers.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0919.htm Michael McGimpsey was speaking after an independent report said the authorities involved with the family could not have known what was about to happen. Arthur McElhill, Lorraine McGovern and their five children died in the blaze. Mr McElhill, a registered sex offender, was suspected of starting the fire in November 2007. The report, by Henry Toner QC, did cite deficiencies in how agencies communicated his record and made 63 recommendations.The report criticised how information was communicated within disciplines of the Western Health and Social Care Trust and other agencies and the assessment of potential risks posed by Arthur McElhill to teenage girls by reason of his sex offences. Police told social workers Mr McElhill had convictions for sexually assaulting teenage girls, even though the information was in their own files - had anyone looked it up. Social services then removed a teenage child from the house - she was a friend of the eldest daughter Caroline - and had been staying there. Subsequent meetings of social workers to discuss this teenage child were not told of Arthur McElhill's offences, and no-one assessed the risk to the other children still living in the house. In a statement Ms McGovern's family welcomed the report and said they hoped the recommendations are "fully implemented"
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0918.htm THE health and social services were guilty of a series of failings in the case of an Omagh family who died in a house fire, an investigation has found. Arthur McElhill, Lorraine McGovern and their five children died in the blaze at their family home in November last year. Mr McElhill, a registered sex offender, doused the family home in Lammy Crescent with petrol. An independent review panel commissioned by Stormont health minister Michael McGimpsey to examine the role of the statutory agencies that dealt with the family highlighted a series of shortcomings. Led by QC Henry Toner, the panel noted that not all agencies were aware Mr McElhill had twice been charged with the indecent assault of teenage girls. The lack of information allowed a teenage girl, who was on the Child Protection Register, being allowed to sleep over at Lammy Crescent in the months before the fire. Commenting on the findings, Michael McGimpsey said immediate action needed to be taken to address the deficits highlighted in the investigation. "This report has some 63 recommendations aimed at all agencies involved in supporting and protecting children and families," he said
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0917.htm Social care and mental health face a costly shake-up after the government last week announced it would outlaw age discrimination in goods and services provision. In a paper outlining plans for the forthcoming Equality Bill, the government said "research suggests that there are extensive differences in treatment between age groups" in the two sectors. A Department of Health-commissioned study, also published last week, found older individual budget users received less funding than younger adults for equivalent levels of need. Pilots evaluation Drawing on the national evaluation of the individual budget pilots, the Personal Social Services Research Unit study said average care packages for older people would have to rise from £240 to £300 a week to bring provision in line with that for younger adults. This could add £2bn to annual council spending on adult social care in England. In mental health, the focus will be on the exclusion of people over 65 from some services, such as psychological therapies targeted at adults of working age, and age-based barriers between services which disrupt continuity of care. Divisions Kate Jopling, head of public affairs at Help the Aged, said specialist geriatric mental health services were justifiable to treat conditions such as dementia, but current divisions went beyond this. Jopling added that the personalisation agenda in social care, which will make public funding levels for each service user fully transparent, "provided the perfect opportunity to build out age discrimination".
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0916.htm Britain's Got Talent winner's estranged dad says he's determined to see his son George Sampson’s dad Brian says he's so determined to have contact with his son that he's joined civil rights group Fathers For Justice. The 40-year-old has hardly seen the Britain’s Got Talent winner since he left the family 6 years ago. ‘It's cruel that women can just stop dads seeing their kids whenever they choose,’ he says. ‘I’m now with Fathers For Justice. I'm not going to dress up as Robin or Batman and stand on the roof. But I support what they're doing because of my situation with George.’ Brain says he was barred from going to watch 15-year-old's George’s winning performance.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0915.htm A rise in court costs could be deterring local authorities from applying for protection for vulnerable children, the BBC has learned. Fees for care orders in England and Wales have risen 25-fold since April. An increase in local authority funding should cover the increase - but some council officials say it is too low and has not been allocated properly. The Ministry of Justice said experts concluded the changes would not put vulnerable children at further risk. Reports suggest that across England and Wales applications for care orders have fallen by between 20% and 60% since the changes. Child care orders are meant to protect vulnerable children like Angela's three daughters. Angela - not her real name - had a drink and drugs problem. When a concerned relative informed the council that she was taking crack cocaine, the local authority applied to the courts to have her children removed from her care. According to Angela, it was the experience of going to court which turned things around for her. "The court proceedings really scared me," she told BBC Radio 4's Law in Action programme. "This is a judge. A man of the law kind of thing. I thought what the judge says to me stands."
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0914.htm A report into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of a family of seven in a house fire in Omagh is expected to be published later. Arthur McElhill, Lorraine McGovern and their five children died at Lammy Crescent in November last year. The Independent Review Panel was appointed by Health Minister Michael McGimpsey in January. It examined the response of all health and social services organisations the family had come into contact with. After the fire, detectives said they were treating the deaths as murder. Police said petrol had been scattered around the house and it had been set alight.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0913.htm 131 CHILDREN SAFEGUARDED FROM SEXUAL ABUSE 297 SUSPECTED CHILD SEX OFFENDERS ARRESTED – A THREE FOLD INCREASE 6 ORGANISED PAEDOPHILE RINGS DISMANTLED 1.7 MILLION UK CHILDREN RECEIVING “SAFETY FIRST” EDUCATION 2nd year results from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre – the UK’s dedicated organisation for tackling the sexual abuse of children – show the battle against child sex offenders continues to gather pace. The CEOP Centre was set up in 2006 to deliver a national policing focus that would track some of the UK’s highest risk sex offenders, provide services across the wider child protection community and deliver a holistic and inclusive response that would get to the heart of the crime. That focus has led to the safeguarding of 131 children and the arrest of 297 suspected offenders during the last twelve months, with the arrest figures alone being a three-fold increase on the organisation’s first year results. During the last year the organisation has processed almost 1 million images of child sex abuse – using each unique image to help either build up intelligence, track and bring offenders to account, or as vital parts of an investigative jigsaw leading to 18 young victims being identified from this area of work alone. And offenders have been targeted not only individually, but also where they have formed intricate paedophile networks with 6 such groups infiltrated and dismantled throughout the year - all with international footprints. Reports from both the child protection community within the widest sense and members of the public – through the CEOP Centre’s unique report abuse virtual environment – continue on an upward trend with a total of 5,812 reports received and activated during the past year – a 76% increase on the monthly average from 2006/07. But tracking and bringing offenders to account is only part of the CEOP operation. The past twelve months has also seen extensions to the organisation’s “safety first” education programme – Thinkuknow. This programme provides a dedicated array of education materials that have now reached over 1.7 million UK children and which have been delivered by 11,000 specially trained professionals - from teachers through to carers and boosted by new services for parents.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0912.htm It should not seem so revolutionary that a grandfather should win an appeal in the court of appeal. However, it is. The first problem for grandparents is to get into the family court to be able to argue their case. The courts resist this in cases that I am aware of and the system makes it very difficult. The only reason why the grandfather got contact in this instance was that the practitioners agreed that he should. To that extent it does not create any rights for grandparents. The Court of Appeal overrode the judge's refusal of contact on the basis that no-one was objecting and hence he shouldn't have refused it.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0911.htm The awful blaze tragedy that killed an entire family and shocked the whole country last November was impossible to predict. An independent report into the deliberate house fire in Omagh on 13 November 2007, in which a family of seven died, found that agencies involved with the murdered family had no indication the tragic event was about to occur. However, while the report concluded there is no evidence that anyone working with the family could have known the fire would happen, the report said there "is absolutely no doubt that there were failings on the part of health and social services". The Review Panel, which was chaired by Henry Toner QC, examined the quality of the professional work of the various agencies involved with Arthur McElhill, Lorraine McGovern and their five children. A total of 63 recommendations have been made in the report, which highlighted a number of deficits in key areas including communication of information between all agencies in respect of the criminal offences committed by Arthur McElhill; dissemination of that information within disciplines of the trust and other agencies and assessment of potential risks posed by Arthur McElhill to teenage girls by reason of the nature of those criminal offences; and good practice and management within the disciplines of the trust and other agencies. Commenting on the independent report, Health and Social Services Minister Michael McGimpsey said: "I know that the McGovern and McElhill families, and indeed the entire community, are still grieving after the terrible event which happened in Omagh last November. "My deepest sympathies go out to these families who have suffered the heartbreaking loss of their children and grandchildren.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0910.htm MAGISTRATES at North Somerset Courthouse have ordered that the address of a Fathers 4 Justice activist accused of child sex offences be kept secret 'for his own safety'. Lee Doyle, aged 26, is charged with causing a girl under 13 years old to engage in sexual activity and also denied engaging in sexual activity with a child under 13 years old. The offences allegedly took place at an address in Weston on or before October 3, 2007. James Edenborough, defending, applied to magistrates to keep his address secret. They agreed that it would be 'for his own safety'. The defendant was released on conditional bail and was ordered by magistrates not to enter Weston, or to contact the girl or her family, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0909.htm DOES the name Simon Anderton mean anything to you? You might have heard his name in the news in recent weeks. Simon risked his life climbing the Tyne Bridge, as his way of fighting for his rights as a father. Whether you think this was a wise move or not on his part, clearly this man was desperate enough to take dramatic measures to raise public awareness of the Real Fathers for Justice, and the plight of so many fathers like Simon who are denied access to their own children. All too often we have examples of our legal system failing when it comes to the rights of fathers, when they are denied or limited in how often they can see or be with their children. In many cases, angry or embittered women use their children as weapons to hurt and wound their estranged partners as much as possible, by using them as pawns in a dirty and shameful game. Sadly, countless relationships between parents break down beyond repair and children are left in the care of their mothers. There are wonderful mothers, but there are also wonderful fathers. Sitting on both sides of the fence, there will be some fathers who shed their responsibilities as parents, spoiling parental rights for the fathers who are great dads, and some mothers that will do the same. As such, must all parents, particularly fathers, be tarnished with the same brush? When parents hurt and attack each other, children get badly wounded in the crossfire. In an ideal world, most children will benefit from the influence of having both their mothers and fathers playing a part in their upbringing. A close male relative of mine went through untold agony at the hands of his ex-wife, a woman scorned because he sadly stopped loving her. Using their daughter as ammunition in the divorce case, this hurt and angry woman tried using emotional blackmail to increase child maintenance, by stating that she would lie in court and say her estranged husband had sexually abused their daughter. That anyone could stoop that low is beyond me, but the facts are that when people are in pain, they are capable of committing deplorable acts.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0908.htm A JUDGE blasted a callous mother yesterday for worrying about her dog’s weight while her daughter starved to death upstairs. Pub landlady Sabrina Hirst, 22, let Tiffany Wright, three, waste away while she partied and held discos in the bar. The tot lay dead for TWO DAYS before she was found. Jailing Hirst for 12 years, The Recorder of Sheffield, Alan Goldsack QC said: “One almost unbelievable piece of evidence is that on what was probably Tiffany’s last day alive you, Sabrina Hirst, were discussing on the phone concerns you had about one of your dogs’ weight and feeding problems. “Most members of the public . . . . will find it impossible to understand.” The judge said he was surprised a murder charge had been dropped. Hirst admitted manslaughter. Tiffany’s stepdad Robert Hirst, 44, got six years’ jail after admitting child cruelty and neglect. Both also admitted neglecting a child of 12 months who cannot be named. Sheffield Crown Court was told how Tiffany was locked in a stinking room at the Scarborough Arms in the city’s Upperthorpe. Live electrical wires hung from walls. The room where the family’s dogs were kept stank of excrement and urine. Prosecutor Jeremy Richardson QC said: “The squalor almost defies description for any human being to live in, let alone children.” Tiffany was often spotted staring from her window.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0907.htm Failures in care by medical professionals, social workers and parents are responsible for one in four child deaths, according to a Government-backed report. A panel of experts reviewed 126 deaths in one year and found 'avoidable factors', such as doctors misdiagnosing a serious illness or giving the wrong treatment, in 26 per cent of cases. A further 43 per cent were due to 'potentially avoidable factors' – including missing important immunisations or delays in treatment. The study, by the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH), found that in two thirds of the cases, the children died in hospital, many of them on emergency wards staffed by a high ratio of junior doctors with little paediatric training. The review, the first of its kind, was funded by the Department of Health. It highlighted the fact that levels of experience and standards of care for children 'vary considerably' across the country. It states: 'We have found, throughout this review, examples of failure to make thorough examinations and correctly interpret clinical signs. In some cases these failures have made significant contributions to the child's death. 'The errors concerned were repeated and compounded by the fact that the principal assessment was being performed by a junior doctor with no postgraduate training in paediatrics in settings where there was no supervision by an experienced specialist or paediatrician.' The study team collected data on children under 18 who died in 2006 and the experts evaluated more than 120 deaths in detail. Around 3,000 children die in Britain every year.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0906.htm A British man has been found guilty of murdering his American wife and nine-month-old baby by a US jury. Neil Entwistle, 29, of Worksop, Notts, fled to the UK after killing wife Rachel, 27, and Lillian Rose, at their home in Massachusetts in January 2006. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when sentenced for first degree murder later. Entwistle had denied the charges and his lawyers said they would appeal against the convictions. Jurors at Middlesex County Superior Court in Woburn, Massachusetts, had deliberated for 13 hours. They rejected the defence that Rachel had killed their baby before turning the gun on herself, and that Entwistle had covered it up to "protect her honour". Former IT worker Entwistle, wearing a black suit with a blue tie, looked down as the jury returned its verdicts, before closing his eyes. As well as being found guilty of the murders, he was convicted of two other charges: illegal possession of a firearm and illegal possession of ammunition. Speaking after the case, Rachel Entwistle's stepfather, Joseph Matterazzo, thanked all those who had offered their support to the family. He said: "We just want to thank everybody for their prayers, their cards and their support - it was a tremendous help over the last two and a half years." Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said it was a "true, just and right verdict".
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0905.htm A mother-of-three who was found guilty by a jury of sexually assaulting her young daughter was last night starting a two year prison sentence. The woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the youngster, was also ordered to serve two years post-custodial supervision and was placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years. Telling the 28-year old woman in the dock of Belfast Crown Court that he had an obligation to protect children, His Honour Judge Tom Burgess said: " I hardly slept last night trying to find out what went wrong that particular day." The Co Antrim woman stood trial earlier this year on three charges relating to an incident involving her two-and-a-half year old daughter on October 5, 2006. The jury heard the toddler woke from an afternoon nap and when her mother went to change her, she noticed blood in the child's nappy. She took her daughter to their local GP who immediately referred the child to the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast where three medics concluded she had been sexually assaulted with an object. The girl's mother provided the doctors with a brief history of events in the hours leading up to blood being found in the nappy. She said she was the only adult in contact with the girl during the time the doctors concluded the injuries occurred. A PSNI investigation was launched and the youngster's father and grandfather were both arrested. After forensic samples from both men were analysed, nothing was found to connect either to the sexual assault and they were both released. As the investigation continued, the child's mother was arrested and subsequently charged with wounding her daughter with intent and indecently assaulting her. She was also charged with child cruelty.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0904.htm Sometimes there are stories that seem to sum up the complete retreat of common sense and there are several today guaranteed to make the most mild-mannered of us gnash our teeth in frustration. The first concerns the Army veteran who was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping after carrying out a citizen's arrest when young hooligans attacked his home. Frank McCourt, 57, was kept waiting on the phone for 45 minutes by police after reporting vandalism against his property and eventually carried out a citizen’s arrest on one of the yobs. You can guess what happened next. The youngster’s mother arrived and did not apologise or remonstrate with her son for misbehaving but complained about the child’s abduction, whereupon Mr McCourt was arrested and charged. The case against him was dropped shortly before he was due in court, but only after he and his wife were put through weeks of unnecessary anxiety. The second story revealed how school field trips are being cancelled because of litigation fears. Geography and nature trips which many of us recall with affection and gave us a life-long (if largely useless) knowledge of limestone pavements and how to identify a scarlet pimpernel will be a thing of the past. Add to that the gradual reduction in the number of children taking part in exchange visits abroad because of new rules about checking the bona fides of host families and you begin seriously to wonder if the world (or just this corner of it) has gone mad. Children are growing up defiant of authority because any adult who is not a parent or teacher seeking to exert it faces either a police investigation or is considered a potential kidnapper or sex offender. They are regimented, dragooned and chaperoned to the point where they are frightened of their own shadows. They are missing out on the joys of childhood because there is no longer an acceptance of any risk.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0903.htm More than sixty years after Nazi soldiers committed one of France's worst wartime atrocities, orphans of the country's "forgotten massacre" hope that justice will finally be done when German investigators arrive next month. On August 25 1944, when most of France rejoiced in the Allied liberation of Paris, Serge Martin's 10-year-old world was torn apart. One of the 600 inhabitants of Maillé, 25 miles south of Tours in the Loire valley, he had spent the day in a nearby village with his grandparents. But at home, his mother, father, brother and two sisters – one just six months old – were all murdered by retreating German troops. In all, the Nazis massacred 124 people that morning, including two infants, 42 women and 44 children under 14. Only seven were shot, the rest were killed in all manner of ways, including by rifle butt, bayonet, or fire. The soldiers lashed out indiscriminately, even attacking animals. A hand-written pencil note found on several bodies read: "This is punishment for terrorists and their assistants." When Mr Martin was allowed to return home, the ghost village had been razed to the ground, its houses torched and pummelled with mortar. Black and white photos of pretty stone houses are his only reminder of the village he knew as a child, today replaced by soulless modern buildings. "Not a day goes by when I don't think about it. I carry on living but not like everyone else," said Mr Martin, now 74, as he pointed out photos of his radiant young mother with her baby, who would later die in her arms. But after all this time, he is still no nearer to understanding exactly why the Germans, many of whom had cohabited with the villagers during the war, decided to mete out such horrific retribution.
Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0902.htm THE SOCIAL worker in charge of Victoria Climbie's care when she was murdered by a relative and her lover has torn into Haringey Council for setting her up as a "scapegoat" for its failings.In an interview in the Mail on Sunday, Lisa Arthurworrey, 39, said she was "set up to fail" by her Haringey bosses throughout the case and the inquiry into the horrific abuse suffered by the eight-year-old, who died in 2000.Victoria's great aunt, Marie Therese Kouao, and her then-boyfriend Carl Manning are currently serving life sentences for her murder.Miss Arthurworrey also hit out at Victoria's mother, Berthe, for sending the girl to live with a relative she had met only twice.But while she won the right to re-register as a social worker this month, subject to a mental health assessment, she said: "I don't actually know whether I want to practise. It's too soon to decide. But I wouldn't dream now of going back into child protection in Britain - it's just not safe... there are just too many devious hypocrites in social work."The ruling by the Care Standards Tribunal said that "to blame everything on [her] is, we believe, to make her a scapegoat for the failings of a number of people," including a consultant paediatrician who decided Victoria's injuries were the result of an accident.It added: "There was a pervasive culture of 'close the file' from Lisa Arthurworrey's managers."