Sunday, July 15, 2007

You Can't Have Your Children Back

Last night on News 24 I went out of my way to pay tribute to two LibDem MPs, John Hemming and Norman Lamb, who have been campaigning against forced adoption. Their interest in the subject came as a result of social services taking children from their constituents, then allowing them to be adopted by new parents before charges of child abuse against their constituents had been found dropped or found to be false. At that point the parents were told they would not be getting their children back. You can read more in the Mail on Sunday (pp57-59) or Sunday Telegraph (p8). It's a terrible and moving story and provides a warning against the all powerful State machine.

46 comments:

Unity said...

What, no tributes to Tony Lit and Grant Shapps?

I see that Melissa Kite's name was on the byline for the Telegraph's frontpage pictorial last night - a dish served cold, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

As type speak, I am typing an essay for my Masters degree on the benefits of a justice approach to dealing with children, as opposed to the welfarist model. This is going to be very useful...

Very sad story too.

Anonymous said...

These two slightly geeky MPs are showing what the Liberals were meant to be all about. They put Ming Clegg Huhne and co in the shade (but still some way above Cameron/Brown)

Daily Referendum said...

All parents should be very worried.

There is a time and a place for snide political point scoring. A comment thread like this is not it.

Normal Mouth said...

Unity - you're not an arse, so don't act like one.

This is an actual issue, about actual things. Get your head out of the blog bucket for five minutes.

Tony said...

Watching a programme last week about the couple accused of physically abusing their children who fled to Ireland, so they would not have their expected baby seized and put up for adoption like the others, made my blood boil.

In this day and age it is outrageous that state agencies can take away children and have them adopted while there are question marks over the case.

The couple have been shown to be innocent but they are only allowed to write to their children and must sign off the letters with their firstnames only, not Mum and Dad. Yet the agencies are not punished for destroying a family in this way.

As injustices go, this one ranks among the very worst.

John Hemming said...

Thanks for the support.

Peter Mc said...

A good piece of work last night Iain, and by the MPs. Many of us who've had bitter and frustrating experience of arbitrary, overbearing and often incompetent social services will have been cheering.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading about these awful cases, and wonder why these 2 MPs cannot gather together sufficient cross-party support to get these laws revised.

Similarly, Customs & Excise and the IR are able to completely ruin peoples' lives and businesses, yet are not liable for damages - what are the MPs doing about that too?

Liberal Neil said...

This is a very important issue - well done for raising it and for giving due credit to Norman and John.

Your comment on TV last night that this demonstartes how MPs can make a difference was very apt.

Anonymous said...

Sad to say, it is not just in the state sector, it also applies in the quasi-state sector. Although not in the same league as children spirited away by "social workers" (some of whom I have met are very odd indeed), the Law Society has been so bullied by government and quangos that any solicitors who has a complaint made against him/her is guilty before they start. Of course many are, but many are not and you need to be very tough to face them down. It's all part of the police state this county has become. Just look at the CSA - pure stalinism. Although Blair/Brown are masters of the Stalinist art, Thatcher and Major had just the same leanings. It's easy to see why old fashioned liberalism (not the modern lefist lot) might appeal.

Anonymous said...

Iain,

This story is indeed very moving, but I would caution against assuming that the reportage is a complete picture.

It may well be the case that the parents in question have been entirely wronged. I simply do not know and nor can anyone outside the veil of secrecy surrounding the case. Let us not forget that the veil of secrecy is intended to protect the various parties. Remember the huge publicity surrounding abuse cases in Orkney and elsewhere all those years ago? It is certainly a matter for debate as to when the veil should be pierced, but I don't think that secrecy is wrong per se.

Speaking as someone who went through 'the system' (I was the subject of a long-term fostering order when I was 10) I can honestly say that there really are times when the rights and well-being of the child outweigh the 'natural rights' of parents.

To repeat, I don't know if that is the case for the parents referred to in your post but please allow for the possibility that it might be.

PS: The Telegraph article can be found at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/07/15/nadopt115.xml

Anonymous said...

Alas, I did not see the TV, nor am I up to date with the circumstances related. Instead I just want to say how it affected me under circumstances that could easily have gone that way.

Thirty years ago I did nothing worse than win the custody battle that inevitably occurred at separation between myself and my then wife. It was quite clear to the court that I would make a better single parent than my former wife. My daughter was about 9 months old at the time. For that, together with possibly some false accusations by my ex-wife's family who considered that my action in gaining custody was seriously immoral, and certainly for my being a bit lippy with a welfare officer on one occasion led to my receiving a supervision order. Just one stage less than my daughter being placed on the "Children at Risk" register.

For the next 7 years I had constantly to look over my shoulder, even after forming a new family, to ensure that I did nothing that would provoke them to remove my daughter. Since then, the powers of the Social Workers have been increased, their use of them become much more arbitrary.

Has children's welfare improved? No, but it has served to alienate and criminalise another section of the middle classes.

Didn't the Hitler regime develop some free and easy rules about removing children from their parents "for the greater good of society"?

Anonymous said...

One of the most disturbing features of this story is that local authorities now have a financial incentive to increase the number of adoptions.

These incentives were introduced because left-wing social workers were putting too many obstacles in the way of respectable middle class parents who wished to adopt.

In particular, a colour bar was in force (still is, probably), white parents being forbidden to adopt black children.

The supposed justification for this policy was that black children would grow up confused and unhappy at the loss of their 'black identity'; an utterly disreputable, not to say racist, argument and a thin disguise for the bigotry and class warfare of the Left.

Anonymous said...

My interest in this topic is two-fold; I used to work as a journalist covering social services plus I have had dealings with social services as the mother of a special needs child.
When I was a journalist ( before I had my child) my attitude towards these cases was "there's no smoke without fire" and that the social workers must have had evidence to act the way they did.
However, since I have had direct dealings with social services as a client, I have been shocked by the unprofessionalism of a lot of the staff. They will often barge into a highly complex situation, ask a couple of questions and swiftly make their minds up. Once they have decided how they view the case, they will ignore all evidence to the contrary. A number of other parents with special needs children have said the same.
I am also deeply concerned how social workers will get involved in medical issues when they do not have medical training.

Anonymous said...

Regrettably, this is nothing new as the reference to the case in the Orkney Isles indicates. The recent programme on the Orkney case - when children were forcibly removed from their parents by the Social Services on the basis of hearsay - demonstrated the sheer human misery that can be caused. The officials involved, who were interviewed on the programme, refused to believe that they could be wrong, even though they demonstrably were. One simply argued that because there was no evidence that did not mean that there was no abuse. (In other words, the basis for removing children from parents on the basis of rumour or whim.) They were quite content to ruin people's lives as a result of a belief in their own professional judgement. It beggars belief as to why no action was taken against them.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4.55. No action was taken because that might have exposed the whole rotten system mainly put in place to disrupt normal family life (cf the reference to Hitler (remember he was a National SOCIALIST)) by left politicians and public employees. It is no accident that the attacks on normal family life come from the left. You can be sure that the Tories' recent proposals for marriage tax breaks will be derided by left wing politicans, their public employee followers and the leftie media, especially the BBC.

Old BE said...

Didn't the Hitler regime develop some free and easy rules about removing children from their parents "for the greater good of society"?

Didn't Blair pontificate on the need for "bad parents" to be re-educated?

Hughes Views said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hughes Views said...

As it's your birthday perhaps we can forgive your odiously pompous phrase "[it] provides a warning against the all powerful State machine".

Of course this case does no such thing. To imply that two dreadful errors show that a system dealing with thousands of cases every month is fatally flawed is pathetic.

I'm not trying to defend the agencies involved in this case if they have screwed up but don't forget that the media are (quite rightly) just as quick to condemn when the same agencies don't intervene and awful things happen.

Do you really want to go back to the 'good old days' of the 1950s when society turned its blind eye to the dreadful things that were done to children by parents, priests, teachers and others in positions of power?

Anonymous said...

[i]Do you really want to go bad to the 'good old days' of the 1950s when society turned its blind eye to the dreadful things that were done to children by parents, priests, teachers and others in positions of power?[/i]

Isn't this called a "Strawman" argument? And as such valueless.

Anonymous said...

Thatcher was merely a "milk snatcher", but it looks as though Blair has turned out to be a child snatcher, and married to Cruella de Ville to boot. Nice.

Hughes Views said...

PS It's a bit like pontificating that the fact that two prominent Tories from the 1990s ended up in jail provides a warning against the once all powerful Conservative party...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous [4.55 PM] I agree, the Orkney programme was horrifying. The court found there was no evidence whatsoever of abuse, that the allegations were ridiculous and ordered the children returned to their parents forthwith.

The social workers' response? "Well, of course, they would deny it, wouldn't they?" For them a denial carried as much weight as an admission: trial by denunciation.

Anonymous said...

well, I don't think the Cleveland cases happened while Blair was PM.Still, if it makes the Tories feel better to think of Tory rule as something akin to skipping down the yellow brick road so be it...

Didn't see the prog or his comments but Hemmings is normally a buffoon...perhaps he spoke some sense for once...

Guthrum said...

Until we have a written constitution and Bill of Rights the state will 'intervene' more and more.

Anonymous said...

Look, just who was it who introduced "cash for adoption" incentives for local councils? I don't believe it was the Tories.

Ian, Dave should put the boot in over this. Nothing can be more important than the welfare of the nation's children. I thank God I was luck enough not to have been a child under the Blair/Brown regime.

Colin D said...

Where is the Judiciary in all these sagas. Tossers all of them!! Cherie Blair is/was a human rights Barrister, Right!

Anonymous said...

"I . . .wonder why these 2 MPs cannot gather together sufficient cross-party support to get these laws revised."

Judith, the reason is that an awful lot of them (all Parties) do not give a monkeys about anything as long as it doesn't affect their idea of whether they will hold on to their seat at the next election.

I am currently involved in three separate cases where it is pretty obvious that two different social service authorities have acted in a way which is beyond incompetence/negligence and amounts to abuse of children. Will anyone ever get even knuckles rapped? I doubt it.

The plain truth is that while there are some good and well-motivated people in the social services and CAFCASS fields and even sitting on the benches of family courts, there are also some people whose main motivation about getting into this work is to feel good about themselves regardless of outcomes. They either cannot cope or cannot deal with reality and make bizarre, hurtful decisions which are rarely appealed and even less often appealed successfully, so this puts people off appealing even if they have a good case. What quality control processes do you think there are for Family Court judges, sitting alone in courts where they demand secrecy which acts as a blanket cover-up on thie judges' behaviour as well as that of solicitors, barristers and CAFCASS personnel? Those of us who work inside this process see the worst judges acting like little hitlers, bullying solicitors, parents and children alike with their prejudices and lazy approach to evidence scrutiny.

A further problem is the guardian/advocacy industry which in some parts (not all) of the country is another self-perpetuating oligarchy and a licence to pocket large amounts of taxpayers' money, often advocating policies which are diametrically opposed to what the children actually say or want.

Anonymous said...

For obvious reasons, I prefer to remain anonymous- two years ago I was falsy accused -

Social services accept no child abuse has ever taken place but claim I am a potential abuser and have been told to stay away from my home.

I have seen a bunch of left wing dictators lose files, fail to make visits, fail to turn up at meetings, incorrectly write minutes (they were unlucky I took a tape recorder), make false allegations, refuse to accept logical arguements- actually the incompetent ones are better- they forget we exist but every now and again a new social worker comes along (I have broken four already

Social Services must love this- they have a middle class white professional(probably Tory) to target. The problem is they are not used to dealing with the articulate middle class who know the law better than they do and has a proper degree (not in sociology)

It is diffcult to go to court on this as its essential one remains anonymous)and that is their weapon knowing that publicity would make it difficult for me to keep on practising.

I nearly thought of starting a blog against them- as it is the family and I ignore their prohibitions about staying at home. We are careful but as far as I am concerned the ideal fate for an average Social Worker is the same as the Caeusescus. We all lie to them (scum like Social Services do not merit being told the truth)

The trouble is that some people aren't as articulate as I am and I believe one day someone is going to kill a social worker. I would be tempted to offer my professional services on a pro-bono basis to them

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Alan Dean has got it right I think.

You never know the background to this and what the nuances are.

We must always, ALWAYS, act in the best interest of the kids.


But you were right to highlight it on News 24... and by the way it was a very good stint.

Anonymous said...

I count myself as a reasonable well-balanced chap, and my wife does so as well (chapess in her case perhaps).

Nevertheless, if anyone took our children then we both agree that we would use any weapon required against anyone involved and breach any law to get them back, selling the house and fleeing abroad or going on the run if required. Currently we have one toddler and one on its way. To contemplate losing them in such a way is beyond imagining.

Anonymous said...

colin d [6.41 PM] and anonymous [6.43 PM]: In fairness it was the sheriff, sitting as a family judge, who returned the Orkney children to their parents the very same day the case first came before him. So there are some good and robust people on the bench.

But opening up the family courts to public scrutiny must now be the first priority. Justice behind closed doors protects social workers, not children.

Unknown said...

Well done Iain.

Giving praise to Norman Lamb as generously as you did was a kind gesture.

Anonymous said...

Well done Iain.

Such matters go beyond party politics.

Anonymous said...

I once had a 'visit' from the soscial services becuase my three year old son was thought to have 'exposed' himself to another (female) classmate at his primary school.

The fact that it was in a toilet, and he came home with a broken zip on his trousers didn't deter the over zealous and uttery inexpereinced teacher from refering 'the case' to an equally inespereinced (yet utterly pushy and instantly dislikable) 23 year old social worker, who admitted she had never had children (and had learnt everything in text books), who insisted on visting, investigating and practically accussing me and/or my wife of abusing my son sexually!

It was a truly horrible experience, during which the social worker threatened to have my son and daughter fostered if we didn't 'co-operate fully' with her investigation (which involved having my son examined by a doctor and interviewed by a psychologist) with her investigation

We had to wait this entire agonising period of time with suspision on the part of the school, and relationships with my wife and I really rocked, with phonecalls from the social worker not returned or the social services department refusing to comment in advance of the findings being issued, which came in the form of a computer generated letter saying (and I quote from the letter) 'no evidence of sexual abuse has been found, however the record of the investigation will remain on file for future reference".

So, despite these bastards having barged their way into our family because a dim-witted teacher thinks a three year old wandering around a toilet with his willy hanging out is 'suspect', my wife being in floods of tears for three weeks, and us living in fear we would have our family ripped apart, and them finding no proof of any form of abuse, they none the less have the power to keep the investigation on file - with the threat that they can remove your children from you at any time a very real threat.

Be very wary of these people.

Tapestry said...

why do British people emigrate in such big numbers, you wonder?

to avoid the police state we live in, which can even threaten to remove children without a right of appeal.

it is unbelievable that in Britain such gross mental cruelty is tolerated.

real paedophiles on the other hand are protected by the state, and their evil doings are not controlled or kept tabs on.

what are the laws that have brought this situation about? is it to do with the EU or what?

Sackerson said...

Re Jessthedog: I recently read Peter Hitchens saying that we in the UK still have the right to bear arms in self-defence. Cursory research on the net suggests it's in clause seven of The Declaration of Rights, 1688, and The Bill of Rights, 1689.

Sackerson said...

More on self-defence: here's Clause 7 of the Declaration of the Bill of Rights: "That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to
their conditions and as allowed by law."

For more on the Glorious Revolution, see the House of Commons' own information sheet at http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/g04.pdf

Sackerson said...

... and I know it's slightly off the subject, but this part of the Oath of Supremacy in the Bill of Rights 1689 is surely relevant to discussion of European laws and codified rights vs English law:

"...I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm. So help me God."

Anonymous said...

you may all wish to look at the agruements around this on the stirrer.

Anonymous said...

I have not read the article, but I did see the TV interview this morning on BBC Brekfast TV with one of those Lib-dem MPs and somebody else ( A representative form an adoption organisation I think).

I am appalled that mere whim can result in such action by the Social services.

With regard to the Father's for justice campaign I came to the conclusion that the Family court division is acting in nobody's interest apart from the 'establishment'. I would dissolve the Family court system since it is an unaccountable and absolute affront to Justice.

This item about the 'authorities' being able to doing something on a whim brings back to the dark days of 'Cathy come Home' That TV Teleplay which older readers may remember from the 1960s.

Iain, this is indeed one where Dave and IDS could show real leadership when they talk about a 'broken society'.

Blair might have liked his 'quick fixes': ASBOs, arrest on a whim etc - but he has mercifully gone and so should all his legislation -preferably to Hell where it belongs.

Anonymous said...

What is particularly galling is that the same social services seem to do nothing to prevent the harm of children in real danger.

Look at the tragic case of an infant who was raped and murdered in Leeds. That child was killed by an uncle with a genuinely suspicious history, after he had argued with the father about whether to go out and get some cocaine. So was the threat posed by that household to the child's safety obvious for social workers? What about registered drug addicts receiving methadone prescriptions? Their children are not taken into care or put up for adoption.

A policeman friend tells me often of his frustration in dealing with social workers who sit and spout nonsense and sip coffee through case conferences regarding drug abusing families without doing anything about the children. The feckless parents are encouraged to make "choices" or given "options" to "address their behaviour".

It appears that - like most things involving the state nowadays - you are only a target for action if you are not amongst the feckless criminal classes. The family court system does appear to be Orwellian and needs torn apart. Is there no way of direct action - naming social workers on the internet, mass refusal to co-operate - that will bring it down?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for highlighting the dreadful treatment of these parents, Iain. It contrasts starkly with the treatment received by a neighbour of who mine is a senior social worker in the child care field when she was unable to care for her child.

She was born overseas and fostered to a relation aunt in UK as a child, because it was felt she's have a better life here. This is a common practice in her birth country. The relation was wealthy and middle class, whereas my neighbour's own parents are working class people of average income.

This experience appears to prejudice my neighbour's whole approach to her job. She has said that she believes children are better off with exemplary middle class foster parents than less than perfect poor parents, and seems to regard being working class as tantamount to inadequacy.

She has twice had severe breakdowns which resulted in admission to the local psychiatric clinic for long periods - as a result of a her disrupted childhood? On each occasion social service colleagues smoothed the way for this social worker to take her youngest child into the unit with her and she was reassured by these colleagues that her children would not be placed in foster care.

Rather different treatment than they mete out to other parents who do not have such good connections.

Zoey said...

Follow The Money..Title IV Federal Funding- Incentives for states to remove and adopt out our children!

Anonymous said...

If you have young children, be very kind to your district nurse.
That way when some moron comes round after an anonymous 'tip', the nurse will send them off with the comment"What utter drivel, I have known these children since they were born, they are wonderfully cared for and Mrs.XXXXX is an excellent mother"
The Social will not even DREAM of going up against the Nurse.

Robert