Social services and police were found to have breached a family’s human rights after removing four children from their homes without cause.

The landmark case which was heard in Jersey, began when one of the children made a comment about a sibling’s sleeping arrangement.

Social services were accused of over-reacting and not following proper procedure, including failing to tell the mother that the section 20 agreement she had signed could be revoked at any time.

There is also a suggestion that the mother may have been forced into signing the temporary accommodation agreement for her children.

The rising movement in courts and among child welfare reformers investigating violations of families’ human rights inside child protection sectors across states is a positive development and one which we hope will continue to grow.

A very good summary of the case can be found on the Jersey Edition of the Bailiwick Express.

This is an extract from the report:

“The children were not returned as expected and they were traumatically separated from the care of their parents for more than two weeks. 

They were only returned the day after the Children’s Minister applied to the Royal Court, presided by the then-Deputy Bailiff Timothy Le Cocq, for an Interim Care Order. 

The Court refused, finding that there were not grounds to believe that the children were at risk of “significant” emotional or physical harm. They found there had been an “overreaction” by Children’s Services, and noted that the mother “would have removed [the cardboard over the cot] immediately if the Children’s Service had advised her to do so.”

During evidence from one social worker, the Court heard about the trauma caused to the children by being separated from their parents and kept with social workers after the arrest. The worker broke “down in tears in the witness box” as she recalled how the parents’ “screaming and crying” son had to be put into a car “by force” because he didn’t want to leave his parents after a scheduled contact session.”