Thursday, 3 July 2008

Court costs 'risk' for children

Full Story:

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."

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