Bid to speed legal proceedings backed

Government plans to speed up child care proceedings are being supported by the Association of Directors of Social Services.

The cross-government review of care proceedings has been criticised by lawyers and magistrates for focusing on cost-cutting.

But John Coughlan, the Association of Directors of Social Services’ lead on children and families, said the increase in spending on legal aid in family courts “must be acknowledged”.

Reducing the time spent on cases in court would help to cut costs, he said, adding “we think more could be done to streamline the process”.

He said the ADSS wanted to push for social workers to be allowed to give expert evidence in child care cases. But they must have the confidence to communicate their expertise, and protocols would need to be put in place to ensure they would be given the opportunity to do so.

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