Cafcass calls for joint working pilots

Cafcass chief executive Anthony Douglas has called for pilots of joint working teams in the family courts system.

Speaking at the Children Law UK conference in London today, Douglas said the teams could include judges, court service managers, Cafcass practitioners and representatives from the health service, such as expert witnesses.

He admitted it would be a “tricky” to preserve the independence of judges but said different parts of the family courts system were currently “isolated” from one another and this needed to change.

Douglas also called for more political support for championing of social workers, saying they were the “single biggest strength” for vulnerable children in the UK.

“They are much maligned and misunderstood profession,” he told delegates.

Also at the conference, the head of England’s family court system called for judges to see more children in private to make sure their views are heard in cases.

Mark Potter, president of the family division, said: “We should trust judges to respect confidence of children while reporting the substance of their views.”

His predecessor Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss  said this used to happen in the family courts but changed when the Children Act 1989 came in.


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