Family Court Consultation Reveals the Devastating Effects Caused by Remote Hearings.
I want you to understand the gravity of what is happening in our family courts since they have been running remotely, due to the Corona lockdown. To help me get this point across quickly, I will give you 3 examples, taken from this recent review of remote hearings, that shows how unforgiving, inhumane, and morally void the forced adoption racket really is...
I have taken this passage from page-20 of the review(section 3.6) and you must understand that this is not an isolated incident, it is happening everyday, 7-days a week, 365-days a year.
"Particular concerns were raised by some respondents about urgent applications for interim care orders in relation to newborn babies, with new mothers having to join hearings from hospital, with accompanying difficulties in connectivity and in ensuring any privacy while the hearing was taking place."
Case study #1
"[It] was a contested removal hearing in respect of a newborn baby. The mother has a history of local authority involvement with two other children. I represented her. I found it profoundly inappropriate not to be speaking to her in person but on a telephone when she had never met me before and had given birth to her baby only the previous day. The court decided, almost inevitably, that the child should be removed but for that mother to be listening to the hearing in a side room in hospital, and to be told of the court’s decision by telephone (she missed the judgment because she had been called away to feed the baby by a midwife who came in to the room where the mother was) without me being there to put an arm round her seemed horribly cruel to me" (Barrister).
Case study #2
"I heard an ICO [interim care order] remotely form home by telephone. The matter was originally listed for a one-hour remote hearing. At the hearing, the local authority sought to separate a newborn baby who was three days old at the time of the hearing. The mother and father hadn’t received the papers. The father was only made a party to the proceedings at the hearing. The local authority, and to a lesser extent the guardian(A CAFCASS appointee), were trying to persuade me to deal with the case and grant the orders sought at the one-hour hearing. They hadn’t even complied with their obligations of pursuing all placement options" (Judge).
Case study #3
"In one case I had to speak to the parents who were sitting in a car outside the hospital where the mother had that day given birth and I had conducted a hearing removing their newborn baby from them" (Judge).
In Case study #2, you can see just how unfair these hearing can be. Not only had the LA(Local Authority) not disclosed vital information to the parents before the hearing, they were also attempting to coercing the Judge into making a rushed decision. On top of this, the LA were so keen on removing this child they hadn't even bothered to find the most suitable placement(This would normally be with a close family member who had been adequately assessed).
In other reports found within this review, there are concerns raised about the privacy available to parents. Many parents are having to attend these type of remote hearings while at home with their children, hearings that result in those very same children being removed from the family. In one example, the lack of compassion and morality is all too clear to see...
"The mother, who was at risk of having her four children removed, gave evidence by telephone from her garden shed as there was nowhere else private she could go as she was self-isolating due to COVID-19 and the children were in the house, being cared for by their grandmother. It was unsatisfactory to make any decision without being able to assess the evidence in the round, and unsatisfactory for the mother to give such important evidence in these circumstances. The likelihood of parents involved in care proceedings having a private space from which to attend remote hearings seems low" (Judge).
Over 1000 people were involved in this consultation, including parents, carers and professionals. However, when we look at these numbers in more detail, we see that parents only made up 3% of the 1000.
So, if we keep in mind that parents have been under-represented in this study, you can imagine for yourselves how this next graph would look.
To give a little more context to the graph above, it becomes clear when reading this review that almost all of the positive points raised were in reference to efficiency and cost saving. In some cases, Direction hearings(Usually short hearings, detailing procedure and framework) benefit from being held remotely. There are also examples of how remote hearing had a positive effect when dealing with cases involving victims of domestic abuse.
Overall, the justification and support for the majority of Family court hearings being held remotely was hard to find. As for the concerns being raised, there were all too many. On page 15 this is summed up perfectly in three separate statements.
"I am not content that the lay parties feel that they are recognised as central to the case… I sense that they feel even more powerless than when they attend court with their advocates" (Judge).
"I have had parties say this isn’t fair during the call and I think that without them seeing us they don’t always feel that they have been heard" (Judge).
"Lay clients have felt disheartened, like they have not had a fair hearing and that the judge was not interested in hearing the case. This is across the board with all my cases" (Barrister).
To appreciate the enormity of these statements and the findings of this review, you must understand the ethos of the Family Justice system...
As you can see, the current status of the Family Courts is woefully inadequate for the task it carries out. Under normal circumstances, before remote hearings were introduced, this system was already rife with corruption and malpractice. But since then the scale of exploitation has exploded. On page-24 of the review, a chilling statement is made by one Judge that seems to show how the Social Services have used this pandemic to accelerate their desire to destroy families all across the UK, regardless of the injustice...
"There has been a significant increase in the number of urgent public law cases coming before the court. Many of the public law applications are for interim care orders or emergency protection orders with a plan of separation. Hospitals are less keen on keeping babies in hospitals post-birth pending a contested hearing. The local authorities are short of parent and child placements. Some foster carers are serving notice on their current placements. Many residential units have closed their doors… local authorities (and some guardians) are resistant to these applications being adjourned to enable families to give instructions. The local authority is urging speed of determination on the basis they cannot keep children safe in parental care in the community. I anticipate the number of children removed at urgent hearings has increased. Whilst ordinarily holding arrangements can be put in place on an interim basis to enable an urgent application to be heard on proper notice this is very difficult where local authorities offer no face-to-face social work" (Judge).
Even more concerns are raised in this review to show how the LA are seizing the opportunity to benefit from the lack of scrutiny that these remote hearings afford.
Page-18 discusses how professionals are colluding in private meetings without the parents in attendance.
"Some respondents expressed concern about Cafcass Family Court advisers and social workers taking part in pre-hearing phone or online discussions between the legal representatives of all the parties when the parents were not invited to join these discussions. Those giving this example felt that it was inappropriate to involve potential witnesses in this way, and that it was likely to leave parents feeling excluded from the process."
Parents facing this kind of trial are being hamstrung by the lockdown measures and it is sad, yet unsurprising, to hear that LA are taking advantage of their vulnerability.
For a court hearing of any kind to be just and fair, it is a basic requirement that all parties are represented equally. It is also a requirement of our constitution that all laws and legislations must be understood by those it concerns, otherwise they are unjust. Page-14 describes just how much of a disadvantaged position parents are finding themselves in...
So, how can this be a fair and just system when this review has uncovered how parents are not afforded the same understanding as those prosecuting them? It simply isn't "just" and it most definitely is not lawful.
To continue in this way shows a complete lack of compassion towards the most vulnerable. It also highlights how infallible the Social Services believe they are and their utter contempt for the rule of law.
Like every other review, independent inquiry or consultation that has gone before this one, the only changes will be for the benefit of those in charge. If things were any different and if they actually gave a damn about the families involved, they would have burnt down this system a long long time ago.
My advice to anyone would be to stay well clear of the Social Services. Do not involve them in any issue, no matter how innocent you think you may be. These fiends are employed to steal children, not to protect them. They will find faults and when they can't do that they will invent them. Forced adoption is a business ran for profit like any other and our children are the commodity.
Stay safe, stay wise and stay away from the SS.