Voice of the Child Conference 2015

It’s that time of the year when the Voice of the Child Conference is almost upon us, and this year it takes place on July 23rd, with the theme of “Effective Participation: Make it happen – Make it better.”

Whilst we have absolutely no clue who wrote the article announcing the conference on the Cafcass website (which is a little unfortunate as they talk about themselves in the first person), the day is set to be designed so that professionals can reflect on their practice and find ways to make it better. President of the Family Division James Munby will be in attendance.

Researching Reform are champions of this conference – it is the only one around dedicated to the Voice of the Child – but now that they are in their fifth year, we need to see some measure of its impact. Tell us what changes have been made as a result of the annual meetings, how children are responding to the system and what benefits have accrued five years on from the conference’s inception.

It must surely be time.

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Child Abuse Inquiry: Goddard Issues Guidance On Destruction Of Documents

Inquiry Chair Justice Goddard has just published guidance on the destruction of documents relating to child sexual abuse, as held by Government and other agencies.

She has written to Whitehall, Religious Leaders, the Police, the NHS and heads of Local Authorities. You can read the letters here.

The guidance is quite broad and requires each department or body to refrain from destroying documents that could offer vital clues and direction to the Inquiry itself.

The inquiry website offers this helpful introduction to the measure:

“On announcing the statutory Inquiry, the Home Secretary requested a moratorium on the destruction of material. Today (23rd June) the Inquiry sent out further guidance on the detail of what may or may not be destroyed across Government and by other agencies.

These letters have been sent to both the Cabinet Secretary and other relevant organisations setting out categories of documentation that must be kept pending further requests from the Inquiry.”

The most up to date Terms of Reference for the Inquiry can also be read here.

Lowell Goddard, Chair for the Statutory Inquiry Into Child Abuse

Lowell Goddard, Chair for the Statutory Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse

Summary Of White Flowers Westminster Meeting On Nation’s Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse

In what is a very good summary, Newsweek have published details of the most recent White Flowers Westminster meeting urging politicians to put the nation’s Statutory Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse at the top of their agenda.

The event, which took place yesterday, was heated, with panel members and survivors pressuring the government to keep focusing on the inquiry. The White Flowers Group asked the government to respond to the following demands:

  • Full legal representation for survivors,
  • The amendment of the Official Secrets Act implemented, to make sure it does not cover historical allegations of child sexual abuse, and
  • Greater measures to protect and support whistleblowers, as well as the prompt prosecution of Lord Greville Janner, who was deemed unfit to stand trial earlier this year

The event was attended by politicians, lawyers, activists and survivors of child abuse, many of whom spoke and which included Michael Mansfield QC, Sam Stein QC, John Mann MP, Dr Lisa Cameron of the Scottish National Party,  Sarah Champion, the MP for Rochdale and leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett. The meeting was chaired by Phil Frampton, the co-director of White Flowers Group.

The outcome over whether a review of the decision of the director of public prosecutions not to charge Lord Janner has been successful is due to be made known next week.

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Victims’ & Survivors’ Downing Street Anti Child Abuse Rally

Victims and survivors will be uniting opposite Downing Street on Saturday June 27th to urge the government to break the cycle of child abuse.

The meeting, which takes place on Richmond Terrace directly opposite Downing Street, will start at 1pm and finish at 4.30pm.

Anyone with an interest in child safety and child abuse awareness is welcome to attend. A stage and PA system will be set up on the grass of Richmond Terrace to allow survivors and guests to speak.

This rally is an ‘official’ rally and has been granted approval by the relevant councils and police. All groups, campaigners and members of the public are welcome to attend. The organisers will be updating their events page with information throughout the run-up to the rally.

Please find some more information on the event and its guest speakers below:

Karen Billingsley is a survivor of abuse. Bravely she reported the abuse and went through the court system. Her uncle was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment.

Karen has gone on to help others by setting up her own Facebook group.

Karen will be sharing her story with us and how she now helps others.

Cheryl Corless is the daughter of an Irish care survivor who put Cheryl in care where she was sexually abused.

When Cheryl tried to disclose as an adult and look for help her children were removed for forced adoption.

Cheryl will be sharing her story and how she now helps victims and survivors of CSA.

Stinson Hunter the Paedophile Hunter is speaking about the grooming of children and the escalation of online sexual activity with children. And the do’s & don’t to safeguard your children.

Twitter hashtags:  #BTCRally #childabuse

The organisers have also very kindly offered budget friendly travel suggestions:

Travel from any part of the UK to London for under £30 return with Mega bus Example – Manchester to London on 27th June ‘return.’

Many thanks to Maggie for alerting us to this rally.

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House of Lords Debate: Call To Open Up Family Courts

There are always interesting debates going on inside Westminster, but a question presented by Lord Stoddart of Swindon has just caught our eye.

In a written question presented at the House of Lords, Lord Stoddart asks the following about disclosure of information inside the family courts:

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will introduce measures to open the proceedings of the family courts and the Court of Protection to the press and public; and, if not, why not.”

The answer, given yesterday by Lord Faulks, is added below:

“The Government supports steps to increase openness whilst remaining mindful of the rights to privacy of those involved in such personal proceedings.

Since May 2009, amendments to the rules of court governing the practice and procedure to be followed in family proceedings have allowed accredited members of the media access to the majority of court hearings.

In January 2014 the President of the Family Division issued guidance requiring more judgments of both the Family Court and Court of Protection to be published online.

In August 2014 the President of the Family Division issued a consultation seeking views on the impact of these earlier steps to increase transparency in the family court and on ways to further increase transparency including, the possibility of public access. The Court of Protection Rule Committee is also taking forward work which will examine the benefits and risks of making rule changes which allow greater access to the media and public.” 

So what do you think? Should we have more transparency inside the courts, and if so, how would it work in practice and who would be involved?

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Question It!

Welcome to another Monday.

A recent report by University of the West England researchers Lauren Devine and Stephen Parker reveals a startling statistic – despite the fact that referrals to children’s social care have increased by more than 300% since the introduction of the Children Act 1989, there has been no increase in the detection of child abuse.

The report goes on to warn about the adverse effects of these kinds of assessments on families and children and that little support exists for family units going through these processes. They are, many would argue including ourselves, very stressful, not particularly sophisticated methods of inquiry. Others take the view that they are the lesser of two evils and necessary to protect children from harm.

Our question to you then, is just this: do you think child protection assessment services are fine as they are, or if not, what should we be doing to make these investigations better and more comfortable for families and children?

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Happy Daddy’s Day!

Researching Reform would like to wish all fathers a very lovely Father’s Day today and we hope you get to spend it playing and spending time with your little and perhaps not so little ones, today!

For those dads who won’t get to see their children today we are thinking of you, and wish you strength and positivity.

Celebrating dads everywhere, we’ve added some entertaining, thought provoking and musical delights for you!

Who started Father’s Day and what is its origin? 

Father’s Day Documentary looks at Barack Obama’s volunteer programme and offers insights into the President’s own fatherless childhood

Uplifting Father’s Day Quotes! 

Nature’s 10 best animal dads! 

Happy Father’s Day from Researching Reform xxxxx

In The News

These are the news items from around the world we feel should be right on the radar:

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EXCLUSIVE: Jonas Stadden’s Parents To Deliver Petition To Downing Street Requesting A Full Inquiry Into Their Son’s Death

It was a terrible case, which highlighted less than satisfactory social work practice, and the death of a toddler with Down’s Syndrome called Jonas whilst in care. Tomorrow will be an important day not just for Jonas’s parents, but the social work sector and family justice system too as campaigners and activists meet David Cameron at Downing Street to hand over a petition demanding a full inquiry into this little boy’s death.

The petition will be handed to David Cameron tomorrow, 18th June, 2015, at 3.30pm.

Jonas Stadden, who suffered with Down’s Syndrome until his untimely death last year, was separated from his family and sent to live with foster carers whilst going through adoption proceedings. Arriving perfectly healthy at his new home, his condition soon deteriorated, and seven months later, he collapsed and died.

Jonas’s parents have long maintained that the subsequent witch hunt of their family, and the targeting of their son Lucas in particular, was part of an entrenched desire by social services to cover up wrongdoing – the local authority in question was already struggling with poor Ofsted ratings. Jonas’s body was also cremated almost immediately after his death, preventing the possibility of an autopsy.

Researching Reform has very kindly been given permission to reveal the petition before it is given to Prime Minister David Cameron, which outlines the family’s terrible ordeal and demands a full inquiry into baby Jonas’ death.

The Petition Reads:

Katherine Russell (Mother) Haydn Stadden (Father) Mr David Cameron
No 10 Downing Street

15th June 2015

Dear Mr Cameron

On Monday 25th March 2013 I telephoned Leslie Pollard (PFSA) at the school for an appointment regarding advice for my children and was told to come in at 11.15. We had a discussion with various school staff over approximately an hour and a half. I was told that I would be informed of what the process would be. I returned home with my youngest son Jonas aged four who was a down’s syndrome child.
On returning to the school in the afternoon to collect my two daughters, I found they were traumatised after the headmistress had contacted social services who had then, without informing me, gone to the school on that day and questioned my children who were all alone and did not understand why they were being questioned. Later that afternoon they were taken and interviewed on their own by a male officer.

Some days later I was informed by the social workers that my children would be taken into a respite placement on a section 20 for two weeks and on doing so my four children were then split up with three different foster carers, with my eldest son being arrested and subsequently charged with Anal rape and sentenced to 25 years, five years for each count.
My partner (Haydn) and I have proved beyond a doubt that my son did not commit any of the offences and each time we proved the allegations to be false, then more allegations were made against my son Lucas, even to the point that social services accused Lucas of being the father of his brother Jonas, so in fact I and my son Lucas was accused of having sex when he was aged ten, again at a great cost to my family we provided the evidence that Jonas’ father was Haydn.

Lucas has been in a detention centre since 9th December 2013 he has been assaulted and refused contact with myself and his family, again on the basis of yet more allegations that we have proved to be false. At the time he was accused of raping his sister he was 15 years old although they said that it was historic with dates and times being vague and also with no contact with the family he was all alone with the then L.A lawyer representing him.
He was told by that lawyer to plead guilty as it would be better for him. With no-one able to provide him with advice to the contrary, he did as he was told and was then sentenced to 25 years. Not even paedophiles or Murderers are given such sentences.
Lucas is now coming up to 18 and they were trying to get him sectioned under the mental health act. My son is not guilty and we have the evidence to show this fact. I am asking for a public enquiry for my son Lucas as to why there has been a cover up from the day I asked the school for support.

My son Jonas had he lived would have now been aged six, but within eight months of being in care he was dead!!
Again there was a cover up and on Jonas’ death he was quickly cremated and with his incinerated body, all evidence was destroyed, (please see before and after photographs of my son Jonas).
You are aware of what is happening within the social services and of the many families whose children are taken into care on allegations then only for thousands of children never to see their families again, it is so hard to believe that what has happened to my children is happening throughout Britain with many countries from the EU and beyond voicing their concerns of the child abuse in Britain, even to point of making comparisons with Adolf Hitler’s Lebensborn programme.

I will say that to lose a child in death, another child in a detention centre and my two daughters still in foster care with contact six times a year (to which I have a judgement that supports this as fact yet I do not get that as the social workers are not adhering to it) and all this with the British Governments stating “In a child’s best interest” is it in a child’s best interest? When my youngest son is dead, the oldest one is being beaten up, afraid to leave his cell and my two daughters are alone in fear!! Therefore it is in the interest of you as the Prime Minister to call for a public enquiry into the death of my son Jonas, and a public enquiry for my son Lucas who is in the detention centre, and for my two daughters in a foster care placement.

Ofsted have reported for the past two years that the social services in Taunton are inadequate and have failed their inspections:

Ofsted rate Somerset County Council’s services “inadequate”

Ofsted Report, September 2013

Ofsted Report, March 2015

‘David Cameron is telling us that by and large social workers can’t be trusted’, May 2015

I feel now that you can see why we are now of the opinion that you should also support our request to you as the Prime Minister for justice for my family and for a public enquiry into the death of my son Jonas and the allegations against my other children.
This Somerset County Council is not fit for purpose and needs a total reform.

As well as this petition, David Cameron will also receive another petition, addressing concerns of grandparents around the country that their right to contact with their grandchildren is still being ignored. Maggie Tuttle has also very generously allowed us to publish this letter, and so we print it below:

Children screaming to be heard
The silent witness here lies the truth

David Cameron
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London.
15/06/2015

Dear Mr Cameron,

In 2009 I wrote asking you for grandparents rights with a promise that I would make sure grandparents voted for you. You agreed to do so by letting the media know (please see the enclosed reply from Ian Pendlington). You broke your promise only to now continually say publicly that there is nothing more important than the safety of our children.

I have written many times to you regarding the safety of our children, to no avail. Just as I wrote to you personally regarding what the system has done to my grandson, which you ignored and returned my letter.
For this reason after witnessing a child screaming to be heard, then abused in the care system when I was in retirement after having been a voice for 40 years for justice, that I came back to be a voice for the abused children and registered the charity children screaming to be heard the silent witnesses here lies the truth.

I have for the past four years been researching into the most corrupt system that has been allowed to continue in this British Empire for centuries ironically claiming to be “In a child’s best interest”.

So you tell me, where is the child’s best interest when they are forcibly adopted and dragged into care only for many to be sexually abused and starved of meaningful and necessary contact with their families, used for drug experiments, many murdered, trafficked, then when the money runs out, they are thrown onto the streets, many to become drug addicts alcoholics and prostitutes?
Prison figures state 49% of prisoners are from the care system, then we have untold thousands in psychiatric hospitals and young peoples detention centres, and now government have set aside a further 19 million for more adoptions. Sadly you will never hear or know the real truth from the big charities or from Government departments, but my charity is paid for almost entirely by me alone from my meagre pension, I also have a help line and I hear from families daily throughout this country and I say with hand on heart all of the so called do gooder’s “In a child’s best interest” have no idea of the suffering of the British children who are abused in every way in care as I always have said the truth is with the Nation.

It is time for you as the Prime Minister to make a stand to support the children and families and not to just say what ever, the only solution I can think of for the children in care and families to stay in touch is by the “FAMILIES FOREVER STORYBOOKS” Prisoners are allowed to write stories for their children http://www.storybookdads.co.uk why not the families for the children in care?
I also suggest you read the evidence from my web-page of the corruption as you your self have recently stated in the media that social workers cannot be trusted.
http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2015/05/29/david-cameron-telling-us-large-social-workers-cant-trusted/
There is more evidence in the media of the illegal social workers who with false passports and fake identities, are employed by the councils and have taken children into care on false allegations. This alone should be investigated and those children returned home until such time as those allegations by those illegal social workers have been fully investigated.

Your recent comment at the G7 Summit said that Britain is a country with a conscience sadly there is no British conscience for the children and families being torn apart, with children forcibly adopted and fostered, therefore “In the interest of a child” until such time as the corruption of the social workers has been fully investigated, give the children “FAMILIES FOREVER STORYBOOKS” so they will and can know they still have families who love and care for them.

Should you ever want to know or hear truth then please read the website
http://www.childrenscreamingtobeheard.com or ask me personally.
I do not work for a wage my life is to be a voice for justice for the children.

Yours sincerely

Maggie Tuttle

We will update you with further news as and when we receive it.

Jonas

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