The Big Question

Are plans to remove the anonymity of social workers involved in family court proceedings a good idea?

Shaun Webster – Change self-advocacy group
Social workers have all the power in the family courts and they often make parents with learning difficulties feel small. And they talk jargon all the time. If the courts were more open, there would be less of that sort of thing. It would be less scary. The courts are like a big boys’ club and there isn’t enough support for us.

Angie Lawrence – Single mother
Most family court proceedings involving children should remain anonymous. Often, any media that might be privy to such details can have their own agenda which could be in conflict with the best interests of the children. I was pleased to see the proposal to make it a criminal offence to publish information likely to identify children or families.

Len Smith – Gypsy activist
Knowing that a case will come under scrutiny, with people personally identified, can be a spur to top quality effort. However, I can see scenarios where identifying case workers could lead to personal danger. There should be some sort of “pre-hearing” examination that sets the parameters of each individual case, including identification.

Kerry Evans – Parent of two autistic children
Child protection cases can arise from the domino effect of social services failing to provide respite for disabled people. Often the media are the only group left to expose these injustices and get people talking about child protection. By not naming social workers, there is no one to take responsibility when abuse has been state-instigated.

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