Welcome to another week.
The Court Of Protection has often raised concerns for the secretive way in which it conducts its business. With far reaching powers like the ability to compel individuals to undergo abortions, surgery and even detain those considered to be mentally impaired in places like hospitals, it is a court with an enormous amount of influence on day-to-day living.
Google “Court of Protection Problems” and a lot of items come up, including an article from The Guardian which explains why the Court Of Protection carries out much of its work behind closed doors. The piece explains that many of the cases the Court hears are private and involve families who would prefer not to let the world in on their personal affairs.
But every now and then a case crops up which blurs the boundary between right to privacy and public interest, and raises questions about the judges who make such draconian orders. The case of Kathleen Danby, a grandmother facing jail for hugging her grand-daughter is one such case. The case began with a contact order which effectively banned Ms Danby from seeing her grand daughter, Janine, who was placed in care. Ms Danby defied this court order in 2014 by hugging Janine, an event which was caught on CCTV by social workers, and subsequently saw Ms Danby go to jail. Ms Danby faces jail again, after her grand daughter ran away from her care home recently, and tried to make her way to Ms Danby.
Whilst we don’t know the reasons for the order banning contact (the article explains that Ms Danby lives near Janine’s father, so perhaps there are concerns in relation to his conduct), we do know that Janine is 20 years old, an adult in the eyes of the law. Ms Danby is 74 years old, and clearly not deterred by jail time.
No one has yet questioned how Janine was able to run away from her care home not once, but twice. We already know that there are huge numbers of children running away from care homes in England, a phenomenon which continues to place children at risk of exploitation and other forms of harm.
So our question then, is just this: Do you think the Court Of Protection is handling this case in the best way possible, regardless of what the facts may be, or is it unfair to judge without all the information?