See You in Court: A Social Worker’s Guide to Presenting Evidence in Care Proceedings
Lyn Davis, Jessica Kingsley Publishers
ISBN 978 1 84310 547 3
Attending court and giving evidence is a stressful experience for most social workers, writes Alan Jones. This book should help alleviate that stress.
The first chapters cover basic legal principles and provide an understandable outline of the law in respect of evidence.
Later chapters cover the giving of evidence and provide valuable practical advice, on topics such as how fast to speak to allow a written note taken by the judge.
The book, however, is not just about what happens in court great emphasis is placed on what happens or should happen before court. The chapter on written evidence is first rate and makes the point that the higher the quality report or statement the less is the likelihood of hostile cross-examination. The author stresses the importance of being even-handed and separating fact from opinion in written evidence and encourages an objective approach that includes trying to look at written evidence from the perspective of the other parties involved.
Most chapters have case scenarios which are realistic and reflect the author’s wide experience in public law proceedings. I was impressed with the way in which the basic principles of the Children Act 1989 and the Human Rights Act 2004 are threaded through the chapters as a continual reminder of the necessary professional and ethical baseline in family proceedings.
Newly qualified social workers will find this book invaluable, but managers with responsibility for training should also read it. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Alan Jones, family court adviser, Cafcass