A recently published article in Community Care raises the issue of whether or not parents can record meetings with social workers, and serves as a good reminder to those who may not yet know the position.
Whilst local authorities and social work professionals often try to discourage the practice, citing confidentiality, data protection and human rights principles, there is in fact nothing in law or policy preventing families from audio recording child protection meetings they attend.
A Freedom of Information request revealed that most councils do not have proper policies in place to deal with the practice of recording sessions, both overt, and covert.
When we assist parents, our advice is always robust – by all means record the session. Whilst it is good practice to ask for the agreement of all involved in the first instance, if that agreement is not forthcoming, covert recording, (recording done without the other parties’ knowledge or consent) is a method of last resort.
As CAFCASS guidance points out, social workers who remain professional and carry out their duties competently, have nothing to fear.
We are often asked whether recordings of meetings with social workers are allowed, and the reasons for the requests vary. Some families find it hard to grasp all of the information they are given in a meeting and need that recording to be able to process the contents of the meeting at a pace that is right for them. Others have experienced negative or unprofessional behaviour from the team members involved and wish to protect themselves from illegal or unethical practice. And some find that their communications in previous meetings have been so badly transcribed or translated, that recordings are imperative to avoid further error.
Clearly, this is an issue that touches upon standards of social work practice, transparency principles and good customer service. The growing phenomenon that is audio recording of such meetings, serves as a good reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done in the child welfare sector.
An informative blog for parents going through the child protection service, written by a mother going through the process herself called Surviving Safeguarding, explores and explains the realities of the process, and is worth reading.
Sabine Kurjo McNeill said:
Reblogged this on No Punishment without Crime or Bereavement without Death!.
Debra Holmes said:
Hi is this England only.asking for Angela ray..in Ireland her case is big there..thanks
Hi Debra, this is England
Reblogged this on | truthaholics.
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[Name Withheld] said:
The Judge in our case made comment that social workers had not done any work with us so a meeting with social workers was arranged. As there were discrepancies in what had previously been said we requested we be allowed to record the meeting. We were refused. We wrote to Judge [edited] who also refused, stating that if trust is an issue now, it would be in the future. We eventually were allowed handwritten minutes of the meeting taken by another member of staff. What was written was totally different, unrecognisable from the voiced meeting. The second meeting’s handwritten transcript was an unintelligible scrawl that no one could decipher. It was a farce! This “evidence” was then presented to the court. You would think that the Judge would have at least questioned why he couldn’t read the minutes and why a typed written transcript was not presented. Had he asked us we would have told him that we had been refused one!
Recordings are made in court but what is typed out by the Courts Transcribers go back to the Judge for approval. He/she can then change anything he/she likes! Surely that can’t be right either?
Recordings should be made in all cases! If police do it, so should social workers! Judges should not be allowed to change court transcripts!
This explains a lot. I remember the court transcript when it was printed only had one sentence – when in truth I spoke in RCJ for over 40 mins.
[Name Withheld] said:
I put my tape recorder in my bra, went to the restroom before every meeting and every visit with my granddaughter, and turned the recorder on. I have taped every single conversation, even my granddaughter’s cries that the foster monster and the case worker were hurting her. They only realized that I was taping them when I told them I was by openly bringing my cam corder into one of our last meetings and recorded the cps supervisor,  from Boulder County CPS, telling me that my motion for custody of my granddaughter had been denied, that because my son and the mother’s rights had been terminated, that any bio-families rights were also terminated. I asked how they could terminate my rights or deny my custody petition when I never even had a hearing?  told me that there was no hearing and they were allowing me 4 more visits with my granddaughter (I never got anymore visits) then they would stop the visits even though our visits went very well. You do not have to tell them or ask them if you can record the meetings. The California Supreme Court ruled that you may record your own conversation as long as one person knows that they are being recorded. You are recording your conversation, and you gave yourself permission to do so. It will hold up in any court except family court where the Constitution and your Civil rights do not exist.
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That is true–no civil rights in court. It is run by people who do not know anything about abuse, reacts to abuse, hidden abuse, nor narcissism. It is the perfect venue for the narcissist to cause even more harm to you and your children. Nobody cares it seems. He with the sleaziest lawyer and most money wins. Lids safety and health are of no concern to these monsters. None.
Lady P I don’t know if the government and it’s bodies are inherently corrupt but it does seem that way. With 90,000 kids currently in care it clear there is an agenda to take kids into care. No one, other than protest groups, opposes what is happening so it continues.
We keep hearing the same experience’s from different people in different geographical areas. Coincidence? I dont think so. It’s very easy to manipulate the outcome of a situation if you have the power to do so.
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150% rise in social workers taking babies in five years from 2008 -2013! This is not for child protection but the wheels of a profitable industry turning, making money for all those involved!
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Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..
Tim Haines said:
Justice for Families Recording Manifesto:
1) There has been an explosion of CCTV recording in recent years. Ordinary people are recorded in shops, in the street and almost everywhere they go. The right to record extends to all, not just public authorities and large corporations.
2) Recording leaves no room for doubt as to what is said and done by anyone present in a situation. In essence, it protects both sides. This is hugely important where there may be a dispute as to what was said, or occurred on a particular occasion where the version of events given by ‘professionals’may be preferred by the court to that of a private individual, whose word may be considered to carry less weight.
3) When a recording is being made for later reference, it enables the individual to concentrate on what is being said and done around him, rather than focussing on taking written notes.
4) Individuals’ memories of what has taken place in a stressful situation are often flawed. When there is a recording of events, the individual has an opportunity to review what actually happened, and this can prevent erroneous allegations being made against professionals.
5) There is a natural inclination to accept the word of those in authority who are seen as having no reason to misrepresent happenings, and being professional enough not to be mistaken. In comparison, a parent who has their back against the wall is perceived as likely to distort and misrepresent matters for their own ends. However, one only needs to think of the events following the Hillsborough tragedy to realise that, on occasion, professionals have been known to be more than mistaken in their recording of events in their reports.
6) Courts are often reluctant to hear evidence in the form of audio recordings. Therefore we recommend that parents make their own accurate transcription of audio recorded conversations, meetings and telephone calls and submit these to court in the form of a witness statement with wording such as the following: “This witness statement is an accurate account of a conversation (meeting / telephone call) that I had with X on the XX/XX/XX”, and complete the witness statement with a Statement of Truth such as “I believe that the facts contained in this witness statement are true”. This then places the content of the recording on file as evidence. Should the other party challenge the content of the witness statement, the parent can then offer the recording to the court in evidence. If the other party attempts to have the recording disallowed as evidence then the court can draw its own conclusions as to why.
7) Under Section 9 of the Contempt of Court Act 1980, recording in court is not permitted without the court’s permission. Justice for Families in no way condones the illegal recording of court hearings. However, appeals in the Family Court are frequently delayed by the inability of the appellant to obtain a transcript of the judgment in their case. Justice for families encourages parents to apply to the court for permission to record the judgment in their case, perhaps on a mobile phone, in order to make their own transcript for use on a temporary basis, until a formal approved transcript can be prepared. It is suggested that the judge states to the court that recording devices may be switched on, gives their judgment and then orders recording devices to be switched off. All present in the court will be aware that recording is taking place, and only the judge shall speak during that time.
Alice Moore said:
Reblogged in http://alicemooreuk.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/safe-record-keeping.html
Paul Randle-Jolliffe said:
The Advocacy Fund did far more extensive research on 383 local authorities a few years back.
Policies and Practices Concerning:
Service User Recording of Meetings with the Local Authority.
“What is the Local Authorities Policy & Practice on recording of meetings with the LA by service users especially in social services matters under the children act 1989 (IE Recordings by parents or children or those that might act for or assist them) ie in any form of recording including where there are legal proceedings?”
The FOI Request included some other specific questions to focus responses on key areas
The Freedom of Information Requests and LA responses are located here
The Legal Framework
Data Protection Act which says, in section 36: “Personal data processed by an individual only for the purposes of that individual’s personal, family or household affairs (including recreational purposes) are exempt from the data protection principles and the provisions of Parts II and III.”
This includes Audio and Video Recording and in essence an individual is fee to record anything they are involved in including covertly. Recordings by a private individual are exempt from the DPA as confirmed by the ICO as follows and is therefore entirely lawful.
Information Commissioner (ICO)
30 June 2009
Reference Number XXXXXX
Thank you for your correspondence dated 16 June 2009, in which you
Q: Can you (covertly) record meetings for your own personal
reference so you are able to reference them later at your leisure?
A: In a situation such as this it is likely that as a private
individual you will be exempt from the Data Protection Act as set
out in section 36 (Domestic purposes). This states that:
‘personal data processed by an individual only for the purposes of
that individuals personal, family or household affairs (including
recreational purposes are exempt from the data protection
principles and the provisions of parts II and III’.
If an individual is processing personal data for their own
‘household’ or ‘domestic’ purposes, they are exempt from the
provisions of the Data Protection Act.
Although ’domestic purposes’ is not defined in the Act, our general
view is that when personal data is being processed by an individual
for non-commercial purposes then section 36 would apply.
I hope the above information has answered your question, however if
you need further clarification then please call our Helpline on
08456 30 60 60, or 01625 54 57 45 if you would prefer to call a
‘national rate’ number, or alternatively you can visit our
Case Reception Unit
Put simply any private individual can lawfully record any thing they are involved with for their own use, (except in a court or by permission, except in the HOP and a military establishment) otherwise they are entirely free to do so in any public or private place, however in the context of the issues raised in children in family there would obviously be limitations on publishing under CA 89, but the law already covers that especially in court proceedings where permission is needed but Parliament presumed it would not be unreasonably refused.
It would therefore be entirely unlawful for a public authority or anyone to object to any recording by an adult or child in their private capacity if they wish to do so. The authority has no power to insist otherwise or to require such in any agreement to not to and this would also include recordings being made for transcription and use in any complaint or in any proceedings as evidence:
Service users may freely record when they might have reason to wish to keep an accurate record in case of any dispute or for their own aid memoir, or if they just want to and.
They have the copyright
They may provide these to others such as a local authority if they wish but are under no obligation to do so.
LAs and others typically and unlawfully:
A. Issue an agreement requiring that recordings are not made.
B. Issue a report that provides objections to recordings
C. Sought legal advice which advised that recordings of a meeting would not be permitted
D. Terminated the meeting when there was an insistence that recording would be mad in any case
Such practice is in breach of section 1 (1A) the
Protection from harassment act 1997
as amended by s125 Serious and Organised Crime Act 2005.
s1 Prohibition of harassment.
(1) A person must not pursue a course of conduct-
(a) which amounts to harassment of another, and
(b) which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the
(1A) A person must not pursue a course of conduct –
(a) which involves harassment of two or more persons, and
(b) which he knows or ought to know involves harassment of those
(c) by which he intends to persuade any person (whether or not one
of those mentioned above)-
(i) not to do something that he is entitled or required to do, or
(ii) to do something that he is not under any obligation to do
(2) For the purposes of this section, the person whose course of
conduct is in question ought to know that it amounts to or involves
harassment of another if a reasonable person in possession of the
same information would think the course of conduct amounted to or
involved harassment of the other.
Where such practice decision of one or more people it becomes a conspiracy to commit a crime.
Right to refuse to engage
Service users would be right not to engage with an organisation where there is a policy to commit a crime or where they are victims of crime
THE CORRECT RESPONSE
And those acting for them
Have a duty to have policies and practices that comply with the law.
[Name Withheld] said:
Having witnessed illegal and unethical behavior from Social Services in Bristol during a cover up concerning a disabled child who had been targeted by a sick paedophile cult [edited], I truly wish I had recordings. I also wish I was allowed to publish all the records from the secret Family Court meeting where they took the child away from their protective mother and handed them into the care of their birth father- the man who had allowed their ritual abuse by [edited] and his friends.. There are many from this abusive cult who remain at large.
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Apologies for editing your comment. We are required to do so under current reporting and other legal restrictions.
[Name Withheld] said:
I am baffled, though, since Colin Batley has been prosecuted and is now in jail. It is most definitely legal to say he ran a sick paedophile cult.
Thank you for your comment. The edits are done with prevention of identification of cases in mind and therefore children potentially involved, rather than legitimacy of fact in some instances. I hope that makes sense.
Not really, but it’s your blog!
On Community Care website there is an article titled “Should parents be allowed to record child protection meetings?”. Note it’s a question!
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fighting for my boys said:
Wish i’d known that this was so. My SS worker said i could record initially, then when i decided to record and made note to everyone that i was going to do it, the SS worker called off all meetings and said i was being destructive and obtrusive and that legally SS doesn’t allow recordings of any kind unless in their offices with their equipment! That if i did so, i would be breaking the law and it would go against me at court!!!! I was at a loss from the start with not only the SS worker in Somerset, but also the now retired Judge…who didn’t want to look at my photos and dismissed them for not being dated! He also didn’t want to listen to my recordings over what my children and i went through…Then proceeded to let their father have a housing order over them, despite the pain he’d caused us! Our SS reports were filled with more flaws than ever imaginable, i even asked how to complain, and was fobbed off every time with i’ll bring the paperwork in next week! I’ve lost out over two years of my boys lives…And the worst day of my life was when i was served with an ousting order and had to tell them that mummy had to leave them and the house and that i’d always be their mummy….Their little faces will haunt me forever!
The system has a hell of a lot to answer for to so many of us!
My advice; Trust nobody! Record everything. Record partners conversations with you. Record the conversations you have with your children! Trust nobody!!!!
Caulderdale social worker was outed by secret taped recording! Social worker told mother her child would be taken into foster care despite no wrongdoing! Social services are too heavy handed in removing children from their homes so all meetings should be recorded!
graham carruthers said:
if the ss had nothing to hide the should alow recording.minits of my meetings are tottally wrong.the minits were sent to me from a sex offenders meeting.visa versa.i wos terrifide.
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D Challenor said:
I notice with interest that CAFCASS seem to have positive guidance. One CAFCASS worker REFUSED to meet with me (1-2-1) when I said I intended to record the meeting for my records. They were later compelled to meet with me, but it wasn’t exactly a productive meeting and the fact that I wish to record was used against me in court
Shane Capstick said:
Fgc in NZ cant not be yet they do it and u cant get a copy only what they sent out in written paper work which most time is not what said or plan at the fgc it the points and view of what been said not family or child.
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[Name Withheld] said:
I’ve done this to protect myself and the meeting was stoped,it was then portrade that idd decided to end the meeting.
Thank you for your comment. Apologies, for legal and reporting reasons we’ve had to withhold your name.
This happened with a client at London Borough of Richmond
We threatened the individuals and the LA with private criminal prosecution for harassment under s 1 (1A) of the protection from harassment act.
They changed their mind
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[Name Withheld] said:
If the LA have nothing to hide then recordings of meetings in their offices for example or in the parent’s home should be actively encouraged. This would prevent any parties from lying or being accused of lying, or misrepresenting what has been said by anyone, and that includes CAFCASS/Guardians – the one in my case of care proceedings lied about and twisted everything I told her and used it against me to help SS win a care order. If the police are happy to record interviews with suspects or witnesses then so should sws. Actually, I did record some meetings with a hidden tape recorder, in two cases in particular in my handbag on the table right under their noses. This was 2001 & 2002 before the modern mobile phones were avilable and equipped with such facilities. I did the recordings after the first meeting in October 1999 when it was decided to apply for an interim care order due to the person taking minutes incorrectly – or more than likely twisting a great deal of what I’d said and used against me. Nothing was ever changed.
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Dream-angelle Barabe said:
What can you do if the youth protection worker is lieing, manipulating and doing everything to try make you loose your baby.. sabotaging visits, recording the baby crying…etc
Thank you for your comment. I would suggest recording the visits, either with an audio recorder, or a video recorder. Out of courtesy you can ask the worker if they mind, but you don’t have to. If you do ask, and they say no, you can advise them they you are legally entitled to record the visits and that your telling them is just a courtesy.