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Family courts to be open to media as Bill is pushed through

Family courts are likely to be opened up to the media following government moves to rush the Children, Schools and Families Bill through parliament before...

Family courts are likely to be opened up to the media following government moves to rush the Children, Schools and Families Bill through parliament before it dissolves this week.

Campaigners had hoped this part of the bill would be dropped during parliamentary debates. However, the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) today announced that following talks with opposition parties, a skeletal version of the bill would go through the remaining debate sessions in the Lords over the next two days.

The DCSF confirmed the remaining clauses of the bill included opening up family courts, powers to strengthen local children safeguarding boards and the power to intervene in failing youth offending teams.

The move will disappoint campaigners including the children’s commissioner, lawyers for children and children’s guardians who believed the move would prevent children giving accurate evidence to social workers and to courts.

The children’s commissioner published a survey of children and young people, which showed they did not trust the media to protect their identities sufficiently. The commissioner argued that children and young people would be reluctant to tell their stories and give evidence if they felt in danger of exposure.

However, large parts of the bill, mostly education reforms, were dropped including a clause that would have compelled every parent of home educated children to register with their local authority.

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