Flawed evidence in criminal cases casts doubt on care proceedings

Mothers who have had their children taken into care in civil care
proceedings because they are considered at risk will have their
cases reviewed, solicitor general Harriet Harman said this

Her announcement followed the decision by attorney general Lord
Goldsmith to order a review by the Criminal Cases Review Commission
of 258 criminal cases involving women convicted of killing their
babies over the past 10 years.

“We will make sure that we recognise that not only injustices done
in the criminal justice system, but any potential injustices in
care proceedings, are identified and acted upon,” Harman

The reviews have been prompted by the cases of Angela Cannings and
Sally Clark. Both women were convicted of killing their children
but had their sentences quashed last year amid concerns about the
reliability of expert evidence by paediatrician professor Sir Roy

Now thousands of cases could potentially be investigated, and tough
decisions will need to be made about the future of children who
were fostered or adopted because their birth parents were
wrongfully considered a risk to them.

Chief executive of Baaf Adoption and Fostering Felicity Collier
said: “The reality is that if children have been in an adoptive
family for some time they will be attached and it would be
inappropriate to move them now. I know that’s very difficult for
birth families, but everybody must be focused on the child.

“It is also important though for children to have the right story
about their past and in some cases reopening contact arrangements
will need to be considered. Each case will need to be carefully
considered. There are no simple solutions.”

Head of child protection awareness at the NSPCC Chris Cloke said
too much weight had sometimes been given to expert opinion because
in many cases the investigations carried out by professionals after
a child death “lacked rigour”.

“We want to see every area with a multi-agency team of social
workers, health professionals and police that feeds into the
coroner’s process and works to a national protocol. There is a lack
of trained professionals to do this work.”

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.