Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Secret courts protect social workers not children...


There may be a case for having secret courts - I can't right now think of what that case might be but someone made it and we have them. And if we are talking about being offended, then we should be offended by the government hiding behind children in order that we can't know what they are doing or saying.

A grandmother was hauled out of a comedy show and arrested on the orders of a family court judge – simply for hugging her granddaughter.

Kathleen Danby, 72, was sentenced in her absence to three months in jail by the secretive Court of Protection in April after a judge heard she embraced the vulnerable girl, 19, against the wishes of social services.

So, without any right to a defence or any warning an elderly woman has been sentenced to time in jail. I'm not concerned here with the merits or otherwise of the case but with the wrong that is imprisoning someone without their knowledge or them being able to defend themselves.

It seems to me that these cases - filled with people old and young who can't be named 'for legal reasons' - are an offence to justice. And the only beneficiaries from the secrecy are the social workers. The reason why secret courts exist is to allow social workers and other local authority staff to prosecute their actions free from scrutiny. As a local councillor - in theory a 'corporate parent' to these children social workers are 'protecting' through the secret court system - I am unable to challenge the work of those who, in theory, work for us 90 Bradford councillors.

The secrecy, protectiveness and evasiveness of social workers involved in these cases results in many people mistrusting - even fearing - social services. People make jokes that involve the social worker as some sort of bogeyman, a child snatcher who will drag little Johnny off kicking and screaming at the drop of a hat. And when you read reports such as the one above, it's easy to see how the prejudice of social workers and the courts destroys lives and wrecks families. It may all be for the best but we don't know and what little seeps out from the secret courts doesn't inspire confidence that they act in the interests of children rather than the interests of social workers and local councils.


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