Care proceedings duration hits six year high

The average time for care proceedings has reached the longest period of duration since 2013, figures have revealed.

The average time of care and supervision cases to reach first disposal was 33 weeks in April to June 2019, up three weeks from the same quarter in 2018, showing proceedings are continuing their upward trend.

Cases are meant to be completed within a 26 week deadline introduced in the Children and Families Act 2014, but only 41 per cent of cases were completed within the deadline, which can be extended in certain circumstances.

There were 8,562 children involved in new Public law applications and 10,745 children involved in Public law orders in April to June 2019, down 5% and 7% on the same quarter in 2018 respectively. This reflects the fall in the number of applications and disposals, down 4% and 5% respectively from the equivalent period in 2018.

The Ministry of Justice statistics also show that between April and June 2019, there were 1,230 adoption applications made, which is down 2% from the equivalent quarter in 2018. Over the same period, the number of adoption orders issued decreased by 6% to 1,202.

There were 2,605 applications under the Adoption and Children Act 2002, including placement orders during April to June 2019, a 5% decrease on the same quarter in the previous year. Total disposals fell by 7% to 2,445 over the same period.

Between April and June 2019, 60% of all adoption orders were issued to male/female couples, 20% were given to sole applicants, 14% to same-sex couples and a further 6% to step-parents.

According to the statistics, the number of domestic violence remedy applications and orders have increased. In April to June 2019, the number of applications increased by 16% compared to April to June 2018, whilst the number of orders made increased by 11% over the same period.

Most of the applications, 82 per cent, were for non-molestation orders compared to occupation orders of which there were 18%. These proportions have remained relatively consistent in recent years. Applications for non-molestation orders in April to June 2019 were up 17% compared to the same period in 2018, while occupation order applications increased by 14%.

There were 8,033 domestic violence orders made in April to June 2019, up 11% from the same period last year, the highest number since the beginning of the time series in 2009. The figures showed that 93% were non-molestation orders and 7% were occupation orders, with non-molestation orders up 12% and occupation orders up 8% compared to the equivalent quarter in 2018.

The statistics also showed that the number of applications and orders made for Forced Marriage Protection Orders (FMPOs) is very small. Consequently, numbers fluctuate each quarter but overall there has been a general upward trend since they were introduced in November 2008.

In April to June 2019, there were 95 applications, of which 77% of applicants were aged 17 and under. Over the same period, there were 167 orders made, more than double the same period the previous year. There are often multiple orders granted per case, where one application covers more than one person, and an order is granted for each person covered in the application, which explains why the number of orders were greater than the number of applications.

The increase in the number of orders does not necessarily represent an increase in the prevalence of forced marriage, but suggests a greater awareness of forced marriage being a crime and the support available. The government has recently held events with local, police and the voluntary sector designed to raise awareness of FMPOs and how they can be used to protect those at risk.

There were 1,372 applications relating to deprivation of liberty made in the most recent quarter, up 18% on the number made in the same period in 2018. Orders made for deprivation of liberty increased by 17% to 651 over the same period, despite a decrease since the end of 2018.

Finally, the statistics show that in April to June 2019, there were 223,109 Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) received, up 13% from the equivalent quarter in 2018. LPAs made up 99% of Powers of Attorney received in April to June 2019, with Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs) making up the other 1%.

Family Court Statistics Quarterly, England and Wales, April to June 2019

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