#NQ5 Family Court Focus

Napo to propose domestic violence motion at GFTU conference

Napo will be urging the GFTU to support research into the treatment of victims of domestic violence in family courts.

The motion – which will be put to the GFTU’s General Council Meeting in May – was developed in response to calls for an emergency review of the family court system after the concerns of practitioners were publicised in the media.

Current practices including refusing legal aid unless abuse can be proved; victims having to represent themselves at fact hearings and being cross-examined by the perpetrator (illegal in criminal courts) have all come under scrutiny.

Napo hopes that the continued pressure this motion will cause will lead to an overhaul of the system.

Domestic violence victims in the Family Court System

This BCGM welcomes the announcement of an emergency review of the Family Court system on the need to afford greater protection to the victims of Domestic Violence and the prevention of the situation  where perpetrators may cross examine their victims at hearings. This practice serves only to re-victimise and passesthe power to perpetrators in a system which is there to protect victims. This anomaly is already prohibited in the Criminal Courts.

This BGCM instructs the Executive Committee to:

  • commission support and research from our associated academics on this important

  • seek input by way of a survey of Napo members working in CAFCASS

  • seek an urgent approach from the legal professions and Women’s Aid with a view to assisting the GFTU in aiming to influence the outcomes of the review through Parliament

The government is to withdraw Clause 32 of the Children and Social Work Bill

The Government is set to withdraw Clause 32 of the Children & Social Work Bill at the next reading on 7 March. This was originally clause 29 and was  thesubject of an emergency motion to Napo members at AGM in Cardiff last October.

The clause would have allowed Local Authorities to request exemptions from their statutory duties in children’s social care. Six years was the maximum duration of exemptions which   would  have included  every  Act of Parliament concerned with children’s social care from 1933 onwards with no Green or White papers for consultation!

Lord Low and Lord Watson echoed the AGM motion in pointing out that   it would have simply paved the way for the privatisation of children’s services and dismantling of the state. This would have been a travesty for the most vulnerable children in society. There was absolutely no evidence that it would have led to better services for children and no evidence to suggest general dissatisfaction with existing primary legislation. There was no evidence of support for the clause amongst the many agencies and services involved in providing services to children which would have resulted in a postcode lottery system for children in need. The Government was challenged by David Lammy MP to show what research had been considered in making the proposal. The answer provided by Edward Timpson on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education evaded the crucial question by suggesting in the vaguest terms that academic sources provide information about international innovations and system reform.

Following the AGM, Napo affiliated to the “Together for Children” Campaign (52 organisations) and Napo members added their names to a petition of in excess of 106,000 signatures of professionals opposing the clause and lobbying  their MPs.

Save the date:

The Family Court Professional Conference will take place Thursday 15 June at Yarnfield Conference Centre in Stone, Staffordshire.

This year’s theme will be around radicalisation and child exploitation. Details about speakers, workshops and how to register will follow shortly, but please contact jparyag@napo.org.uk with any immediate enquiries.

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