Major family justice review published
3 November 2011
A major review by David Norgrove into the family justice system has been published today. You can find the report here or reposted below via Scribd.
The 225-page Family Justice Review was commissioned jointly by the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Education, and the Welsh Assembly Government. It aims to “improve the system so that it is quicker, simpler, more cost-effective and fairer whilst continuing to protect children and vulnerable adults from risk of harm.” The full terms of reference can be found here.
The report has already been widely reported:
- The Family Lore Blog has posted a useful summary of the report’s recommendations.
- Professor Richard Moorhead points out that the report makes “measured but telling criticisms of the legal aid proposals” which might be “sophisticated civil servant speak for, “There’s a fast train coming…. better get us off them tracks.””
- The BBC highlights the report’s criticism of family justice delays and recommendation that all childcare decisions should be made within six months.
- The Guardian, amongst others, picks out the lack of a recommendation (contrary the interim report – see para 108) for fathers to be granted a legal right to guarantee that their child has “a meaningful relationship with both parents”.
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As a father who has had to work hard for over three years to maintain a ‘meaningful relationship’ with my now four-year old boy, both through the Courts and a multiplicity of venues, until some normality of parenting has been achieved, in sense regretfully, I have to say that there are some positive parts in this report.
While David Norgrove appears to have ignored the body of evidence linking problems in later life – particularly of boys – with living apart from a father (“which increased the risk of difficulties by over 40%” Layard, R & Dunn, J. A Good Childhood. The Children’s Society. London: Penguin, 2009), there are positive aspects including badly needed reorganisation of the dysfunctional Family Courts, a “single family court, with a single point of entry”, an emphasis on mediation, continuity, a ‘track system’ through the Courts and, critically where there are obstructive mothers, a rapid return to Court within the first year if an order is broken. There is however, no perfect solution to the terrible predicament that children and their fathers find themselves, and this report is far from perfect. MS.
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