Devon children’s workers ‘behaved like Stalinists’

The actions of social workers in Devon have been characterised as being "more like Stalin's Russia or Mao's China than the West of England" in the Court of Appeal.

The actions of social workers in Devon have been characterised as being “more like Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China than the West of England” in the Court of Appeal.

Lord Justice Aikens made this statement last Friday, according to reports, as Devon Council tried to overturn a judgement that an adolescent mother should be given a final chance to prove herself able to keep her child.

According to Devon’s lawyers, the mother had a tendency to have relationships with potentially dangerous people, which would put her child at risk.

Lord Justice Wall, who sat on the case with Aikens, called the council’s stance “pretty unattractive”, reports said, adding that local authorities needed to understand that public perception was that councils pre-judged such cases.

Lord Justice Wall has today been made president of the High Court’s family division.

A council spokesperson defended Devon’s argument, saying: “Social workers have a duty to act in situations where a child is at risk. In this case, after a comprehensive assessment, it was the view of the council that a care order was the most effective way of providing an appropriate level of protection for the child concerned.

“The council will now review its position.”

The judges showed Devon’s lawyers a ruling made on the same day against Greenwich Council, which had lost a case against the mother of two children the local authority wanted to put into care because the estranged father was physically abusive. The council said it suspected the parents were still in contact with each other.

The mother’s appeal to the court was upheld after judges, including Sir Nicholas Wall, said it was “poor social work practice” and the mother had not received enough help from the council.

Seeing this judgement, Devon’s legal team withdrew their case.

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