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Court reporters
- CAFCASS - Untrained and over here

The amount of time a child should spend with a non-resident parent, nor does it have detailed written-down guidance on the factors to be taken into consideration on time-based recommendations” - 3 April 2002, CAFCASS’s Director of Operations Lamorna Wooderson.

Did you know that New Labour is responsible for a state-funded child-welfare agency - employing more than twelve hundred civil servants, and costing more than £100 million p.a. - that brings misery to tens of thousands of British children each year?

CAFCASS (the Children and Family Courts Advisory Service) began operations on 1 April 2001. After three years of operation, it has yet to establish guidelines about what it is supposed to do. Last year, the former Chairman, Anthony Hewson CB, quit in despair.

In theory, CAFCASS was designed to protect the rights and well-being of endangered children. But the agency confused the children of divorce with . . . children at risk. Most people don’t know that untrained CAFCASS officers write some 33,000 reports each year “investigating” perfectly normal parents who are having trouble arranging contact and living arrangements for their children after separation. In the course of making reports on cases in which no issues of child endangerment have ever been raised, CAFCASS officers routinely:

Recommend unsustainably low levels of contact between normal children and their parents (one hour per month supervised in a contact centre, three postcards per year, etc)

interview children as young as 3 or 4 asking them how much time they want to spend with their parents after separation make no effort to facilitate contact when one parent obstructs it defer, extend and aggravate disputes for months and years in order to write reports about any domestic disagreement: bringing back those “sandy clothes” from the beach, or who should pay for that broken boiler at Mum’s, or using “a damp towel” to dry children after swimming, etc.

According to CAFCASS’s “every case is different” methodology, any level of contact, however miserable, can be considered reasonable - or unreasonable - and brought to a full trial. Every case can be endlessly investigated, with no final resolution in sight.

No “best case scenario” has ever been designed for resolving normal cases quickly, efficiently, and humanely for both parents and their children.

If you, or your family, are investigated by CAFCASS, then anything you have said over the last ten years (including anything you have been said to have said) could be “reported” and used to ensure that you lose all proper contact with your children.

Margaret Hodge inherits responsibility for this disgraceful national disservice from Paul Boateng, Jane Kennedy, Jack Straw, David Locke, Geoffrey Hoon, Keith Vaz.

While “investigating” tens of thousands of perfectly normal families each year, untrained CAFCASS officers routinely make absurd recommendations about contact and residence for perfectly normal children and their parents:

A senior officer in Inner London inaccurately advised two parents that “no court in England will order overnight contact for a child until he is 5 ½ years old”

an officer recommended against overnight contact for the foreseeable future on the grounds that “he was unwilling to let the father practice his parenting skills on the child”

an officer recommended the end of all contact between a father and his children on the grounds that he “offered” to buy them a camera and pass it on to them through their mother at the next court hearing

an officer wrote an 18 page full-scale report on the “type of ordinary, domestic activities” a father considered appropriate for his children

an officer accused a father of not being “child-focused” for taking “his child for a ride in a furniture van”

a senior officer advised two parents that a child should not have her own room at the father’s but only “a cot tucked away somewhere” so she didn’t become confused

an officer criticized a father who had not seen his children in 15 months for being “angry,” “retrograde” and “showing frustration,” and recommended against re-establishing any contact until “the father has made a commitment over a significant period”

recommended two hours contact per fortnight in a supervised contact centre on the grounds that “the father might need help learning how to keep the children’s attention”

in a case where the mother had broken contact orders in excess of a hundred times, an officer made almost no mention of the fact in her report other than to state that “it is not the role of the officer to make spot checks on contact handovers”

an officer rejected a proposal of co-parenting on the grounds that the father was “trying to set up an alternative home”

CAFCASS does not keep records on itself, or what it does.

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