CAFCASS: Unfit For Purpose?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

On 11th November 2010, Chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge, criticised CAFCASS, the body responsible for looking after the interests of vulnerable children in the family courts. CAFCASS was described as being “not fit for purpose”. It was concluded that the service was dealing with “a legacy of low morale, unacceptably high levels of staff sickness and under-performance.”

The Public Accounts Committee said that CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service have “failed to get to grips with fundamental weaknesses in its culture, management and performance” following a 34% increase in its caseload, leading “chaos across the family justice system”. The service was criticised for its response to the increase in cases following the death of Baby P, now known as, Peter Connolly.

Many professionals working in the Family Justice System are aware of the systematic failings, bullying and inadequate managerial system at CAFCASS and it is thought that the services substandard approach has resulted in the departure of experienced professionals away from the service. CAFCASS have learnt a very expensive mistake which has lead to the most vulnerable children in society receiving a poor service and the service finds itself in the midst of negative publicity following the conclusions drawn by the Public Accounts Committee on 11th November 2010.

Caroline Little, an experienced consultant at Hanne & Co has over 30 years experience in family law and has been a member of the Children Panel since 1985. Caroline represents children, parents and other family members in complex and lengthy family law matters. Caroline’s experience covers both Private and Public family law.

Caroline has been a member of the Association of Lawyers for Children for 20 years and sat on the executive committee for 10 years. Caroline also sat as co-chair of the Association of Lawyers for Children for over 3 years and maintains a heavy involvement in the Family Justice Council, currently sitting on the Safeguarding and Voice of the Child subcommittees.

Caroline recently discussed her views on CAFCASS with leading news provider, ITN, in the wake of the Public Accounts Committee report. Caroline has an established reputation across London’s legal community and her vast experience in family law often attracts the most complex of disputes.

You can read more about the Public Accounts Committee and the criticisms of CAFCASS here:

www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed71348
www.familylaw.co.uk/articles/Cafcass11112010-5642

How can Hanne & Co help you?

Hanne & Co is one of London’s leading family law firms. Our specialist family law team have decades of experience in a wide range of family law disputes. It may be that you are currently involved in family law proceedings and have questions regarding the involvement of CAFCASS. In light of the recent Public Accounts Committee report, you may wish to seek legal advice as to the role of CAFCASS and the weight which could be attached to any conclusions drawn. Our specialist Public Law team at Hanne & Co consisting of experienced lawyers; Lorna Cservenka, Jackie Pearce, Michael Brierley and Samantha Cook, and consultants, Caroline Little and Paulena Panayiotou, are here to help and advise you on any such issues. In the event that you are currently involved in private law proceedings, Hanne & Co also have an experienced Private Law team with over a century of experience in private family law proceedings and we are able to assist you every step of the way and at each stage of the legal process in family law disputes.