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Monday, 29 October 2018

Judge criticises social workers evidence deciding four children should not go into care

Written by Brian Farmer

A social worker has been criticised by a family court judge after council bosses asked him to rule that four children should be taken from the care of their parents.

Judge Keith Wilding has decided that the youngsters should not go into care.

He said the social worker had made "critical errors" in her evidence and that the accuracy of evidence presented by the council gave him "considerable cause for concern".

The judge has outlined detail of the case in a ruling after analysing evidence at a private family court hearing in Watford, Hertfordshire.

He said social services bosses at Hertfordshire County Council (pictured) had wanted to either place the children for adoption or with foster carers.

The judge has not named the social worker. He said the children could not be identified and has not given their ages.

Council staff had raised a series of concerns.

Social workers said the children's mother lost her temper; said the children had sustained injuries and suffered "significant harm" as a result of "inadequate supervision"; said their physical needs had been neglected; and said they had not been given consistent behaviour boundaries.

Staff complained that the couple's home was "cluttered and untidy".

They also said the woman was "reluctant to talk about sex", which meant there was likely to have been "limited opportunities" for parent-child discussions about sexual relationships and sexual abuse".

The couple disputed council criticisms.

Judge Wilding listed examples which he said gave him "considerable cause for concern as to the accuracy of the evidence of the local authority".

He added: "I do not doubt that (she) is a dedicated, sincere and honest social worker, but she has in my judgment made some critical errors in her evidence."

The judge said the children's mother had a "history of losing her temper", shouting at the youngsters and occasionally swearing.

He said the couple denied hitting the children, although the man said he had once aimed "a tap" at one child's head.

"Whilst it is not good for children to be shouted at or to swear in front them or to 'tap' them on the head, it simply cannot be said that this amounts to harm," said Judge Wilding.

"If society were to intervene in every family where this might occur, the care system would be overwhelmed."

The couple accepted that their home was "cluttered and untidy".

But the judge said there was nothing to say the children had suffered significant harm as a result.

He added: "Of course, parents should keep the home clean, tidy and uncluttered, but again if all children living in such conditions were taken into the care the system would be overwhelmed."

The woman had not thought it "necessary or desirable" to have "in-depth conversations with her children about sexual abuse issues".

Judge Wilding said her attitude did not mean that the children were suffering "significant harm".

He said there was "no foundation" for making orders which would lead to the children be placed into council care.

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