A demonstration in Worcester by parents who have experienced the family courts in England and Wales was held to raise awareness about the problems inside the child protection sector.
The protest was held this afternoon outside Worcester Crown Court, which holds the family courts for the city.
The parents wore masks at the protest to ensure they stayed within family court privacy guidelines which currently forbid parents from publicly revealing details about their cases in discussions which could identify them or their children.
Speaking to Worcester News, one of the parents at the protest said the guidelines were irrational and had turned the courts into secretive venues able to cover up and hide poor practice: “I can only see my children two hours a fortnight. But I can get arrested for talking about my case. Everything is done behind closed doors.”
“Hundreds of people support me but they’re afraid to speak out. They might get gagged and contact with their children might be stopped. We’re complaining about the courts and social services. They’re all together,” he said.
Another parent said, “These secret family courts are corrupt. There’s a hell of a lot of miscarriages of justice going on in these courts.”
Responding to the comments, Tina Russell, chief executive for Worcestershire Children First, told the news outlet: “Worcestershire Children First staff keep children and young people at the heart of everything they do and we take steps to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm where it is necessary.”
We understand at times people can be unhappy about the interventions of children’s services in their lives. Through our quality assurance programme we are always listening to and learning from the experiences of children young people, parents and carers and we use this information to develop and improve our services. Everyone has the right to express their view through peaceful protest and or use of the complaints process,” Russell added.
A growing number of family court judgments in recent years have revealed that children’s social care teams around the country are routinely breaking the law and trying to conceal malpractice.
Despite judges acknowledging these breaches, the family courts currently have limited powers to sanction staff who break the law in local authorities. Parents already under enormous strain and often deeply traumatised by ill-treatment inside the sector rarely launch claims against councils.
Many thanks to Tum Mum for alerting us to this development.