What has changed under the pilot scheme?
In the past the reporting of cases was automatically restricted by the Administration of Justice Act 1960. However under the pilot scheme the presumption is that a Transparency Order will be made if sought. This will enable reporters to have access to some court documents, report on evidence heard and seen in court and allow parties to speak to reporters should they wish to do so.
There are safeguards to prevent identification of the families by anonymising the reporting. However specific facts relating to any family are likely to lead to that family being identified by friends, acquaintances and their wider community.
Why has the pilot scheme come about?
The impetus for this change is the importance of openness to maintain confidence in the family justice system. In care proceedings the most draconian of orders can be made that can permanently separate a child from his or her family. That the public have confidence in the fairness and legitimacy of that decision making process is essential. However it is less clear that this will be achieved by allowing reporting. Sensationalist details are more likely to gain column inches and search hits than legal arguments and carefully explained decisions.
What are the possible implications of the new scheme?
The greatest concern is the negative impact on the children caught up in circumstances over which they have had no control. These are children and young people who are already experiencing high levels of anxiety due to professional intrusion in their lives, disruption in their care arrangements and uncertainties about their futures. The concern is that the potential for their friends and wider communities to have access to personal information about their experiences may only add to the emotional burdens they are already carrying.
The welfare and best interests of the child remains the guiding principle in care proceedings. The implementation of the pilot and impact on the children will need to be kept under careful review.
How can our child care lawyers help you?
We are one of the largest child care teams in London and our specialist lawyers are leaders in their field. We advise in all cases where social services are involved with children.
We recognise how stressful it can be for all parents and family members involved in proceedings regarding their children. If you have any questions in relation to the above or any other child care queries, please contact the team today for high quality advice, support and representation in the most difficult and complex cases.