According to figures released by the Ministry of Justice, there was a 10% increase in the number of cases started in family courts in the second quarter of 2016. This has led to predictions that it could have an impact on the time it takes for disposal of cases.
According to the figures 66,328 cases were started in family courts marking a year on year increase of 10%. The increase in the number of public law cases however was even greater at 24% in the same period with the number of children involved rising by 21%.
Currently the average time for disposal of care or supervision applications is 27 weeks which is slightly above the 26-week time limit was introduced in the Children and Families Act 2014. 60% of cases now take 26 weeks according to the latest statistics.
A top family judge warned this month that the increase in care cases could plunge courts into crisis. Recommendations have been put forward to try to speed up processes while maintaining high standards.
While possible ways to deal with the rise in cases could be introduced it is also understood that care cases were of unique gravity and importance due to the fact they will have a major impact on the future of those concerned.
Lund Bennett are delighted to announce the recent appointment of Grace Matthews, Trainee Solicitor, as Education Director of the Manchester Trainee Solicitors Group Committee (‘MTSG’).
MTSG is one of the largest and most active Trainee Solicitors groups in the country and provides a range of events from social evenings, sporting fixtures to various educational programmes and fundraising events for its 500 plus members across Greater Manchester. Grace spoke further on her appointment:
“I am very excited about being elected as Education Director on the Manchester Trainee Solicitors Group Committee this year. I look forward to working with legal recruiters, barrister’s chambers, the courts and legal education stakeholders across Greater Manchester to provide training, networking and volunteering opportunities for all MTSG members and also working alongside all elected committee members over the next year.”
After a long period of growth since 2011, the number of adoptions fell in the 12 months to March 2016 for the first time while the number of children in foster care continues to rise.
Statistics also show that the 2,700 babies under the age of one were placed in council care in 2015. The rise has been largely put down to government pressure on social workers which has been driven by high profile failings such as the Baby Peter neglect scandal of 2007.
The falling trend in adoptions is predicted to continue with the number of children placed for adoption also falling. This is likely to have implications for the psychological wellbeing of children according to a recent article in the Independent newspaper. Some children are said to suffer psychological attachment disorders that lead to behavioural problems in later life.
The number of children taken into care has risen 96% from 5,500 in 1995 to 10,790 in 2016. While there is pressure on social workers to avoid the failings of the past it may be that too many children are now being placed in care with no studies to back up if this is really best solution for the children involved. However, it’s a tricky balance to strike when nobody wants to see a repeat of the Baby Peter Case.