WillisPalmer launches Remote Assessment Service

WillisPalmer have launched a Remote Assessment Service to deliver social work assessments safely during COVID pandemic.

Read more
Make an Enquiry
Contact Us

Family system 'woefully behind' in treatment of vulnerable

Family system 'woefully behind' in treatment of vulnerable

Family judges are to receive guidance on dealing more appropriately with children and other vulnerable witnesses.

The interim report of a working group set up by Sir James Munby, head of the Family Division, says the family system ‘lags woefully behind’ the criminal justice system in this regard.

The group, lead by Mr Justice Hayden and Ms Justice Russell, says the Family Court still tolerates processes that are prohibited by statute in the Crown Court, and stresses there is a ‘pressing need’ for that to be addressed.

Cautioning against reinventing the wheel, the group proposes 20 recommendations that seek to adapt procedures drawn up by the Advocacy Training Council (ATC) for use in the criminal courts. ’We need to consider the extent to which this excellent work can be adapted for use in the Family Division and the Family Court,’ it says.

Included among the recommendations are rules requiring that the court or judge identify whether a party or witness is vulnerable at the outset of the proceedings and make provision for such support, special measures or other assistance they may need to properly and fully participate in the proceedings and to give best evidence.

Judges would also be required to recognise the role and needs of any children involved in the proceedings, giving them the opportunity of communicating with the judge and considering how best to provide for their participation and support.

Particular consideration should be given to the provisions for parties and witnesses in cases of forced marriage and female genital mutilation, the report adds.

The working party notes that in forced marriage cases, nullity hearings are in open court when the protected person is a vulnerable witness who is likely to have to give evidence of a most intimate and sensitive nature.

In female genital mutilation cases, the child and/or other witnesses are most likely to need support and special measures, and such support and assistance should be provided by the judge, court and advocates.

The practical application of the work of the ATC to the family justice system is already under way in the form of general guidance for family lawyers and advocates being prepared by the Advocates’ Gateway as a toolkit for use in family proceedings.

The draft guidance is due to be published this autumn. The report notes that some judges have already taken steps to help vulnerable witnesses on their own initiative, making use of intermediaries and pre-recorded oral evidence.

The proposed rule changes will go to the Family Procedure Rule Committee in late October, with implementation anticipated by the beginning of 2015.

Story Courtesy of Law Gazette

Knowledge & Resources

Keep abreast of the latest news in the children's services sector.

Christmas exacerbates anxieties among children

30/11/2020

Many parents are wishing they could cancel Christmas while children fear an unhappy family time, a study by Action for Children has found.

A poll of parents found that one in six would cancel Christmas if they could, rising even higher for those on Universal Credit for the first time this year. A survey of children [...]

Read Full Story

Referrals to children’s services rise following first lockdown

30/11/2020

More than 600 vulnerable children a day were referred to local authorities’ children’s services in the months following the first lockdown, it has emerged.

The County Councils Network reported that 630 young people a day were referred to children’s services in the months after the first lockdown, which began in March 2020, as local authorities reported [...]

Read Full Story

More court days for family cases this year despite restrictions

26/11/2020

There have been more court sitting days taking place on family cases this year than in any previous year, despite the lockdown, the president of the family courts division has said.

In his ‘View from the Chambers,’ Andrew McFarlane said this level of activity is necessary as it is not possible to conduct as many cases [...]

Read Full Story
Children First is an online resource for professionals working with children presented by WillisPalmer, providing you with the latest news, features and interviews.
Subscribe Today
Delivering a diverse, reliable range of services to children and their families across the UK
D1, Parkside, Knowledge Gateway, Nesfield Road, Colchester, Essex CO4 3ZL
Contact Us
closechevron-downbars linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram