This could even be as a tip off from a malicious neighbour. Do not treat this lightly. Both social workers and family court judges recognize hearsay evidence, which even criminal courts do not. In Salem this was finally known as spectral evidence and in the earlier inquisitions even the evidence of criminals was accepted.
If Social Services are already involved, realize that they have no powers until you or others empower them and feed them the information which judges will use to remove your children. Do not cooperate with them in any way. If you have a good solicitor, which may not be certain, seek assistance from her or from him. If you do not, then represent yourself as a litigant in person and try to find or create a McKenzie friend.
If you believe the situation to be dangerous, do not let it go to the family courts. Your children cannot be taken from you even by Social Services until a family court judge orders it, so if you believe that the situation is dangerous, leave the UK for Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, France or Spain. Help is available
in France and in most of these countries.Ireland is, of course, very similar to the UK and not yet with the same SS scheme.
If you let it reach the family court, lawyers and solicitors are likely to tell you that there is no appeal, but every case can be appealed, although by then your children may have been adopted.
Publishing your story
The editor/coordinator is an experienced writer/journalist. If it is dramatic enough, your story can be prepared by him and presented to the media, either under your own name or under a pseudonym if you need protection. This could earn fees to cover, or go towards, your re-location costs. TV documentaries using actors are also a possibility.
If you have a review coming up
Comments or corrections or advice from anyone familiar with this process would be welcomed
Fight or flight?
The worry and stress are such that flight where possible may be the only option. One can flee and still fight, beginning the fight either before or after the flight.
The biggest obstacles to flight appear to be lack of passports for the child ,or children, if considering mainland Europe, although Ireland will remain an option, and financial resources at journey's end where it may be difficult to obtain reasonably priced short term accommodation. Rents are considerably cheaper when one can sign a year long lease. A lone mother will need enough money to pay a month or two rent in advance and to pay for a creche after she finds a job. Where both parents are still together, it will be much easier for one of them to find work. While travelling to Ireland may appear simple, the economic situation is bad there at the moment and fleeing parents may find it difficult to obtain work. The same may be true of Spain and Greece.
However, many Irish with low skills chose to stay on social welfare rather than engage in low paid work and this fact is reflected in the number of foreign workers who appear to have no problem finding and taking up the lower-paid service jobs, where, of course tips may be plentiful. So work in Ireland may be a realistic option.
We would appreciate information on the work situation in other mainland European destinations. We would also appreciate receiving information on accessing UK benefits from other European countries.
Information is being gathered slowly. The first indication from Ireland is that it takes 2 years to qualify for benefits there but you can access your UK benefits for a number of months.
More information on Ireland here.
If you have a review coming up, such as one by an 'independent reviewing unit' or a similar meeting, composed of social services, school teachers or others, you should take urgent action, because this may be the step before taking you before the Family Court where you could have your children removed.
Some parents are called before this without any information about what is expected of them and with little or no advice. A vulnerable mother may simply break down and give Social Services the evidence they require that she is a hopeless case. At this stage, your rights under the European and UN conventions on human rights are already being breached, so the following action can be taken if you live in the UK.
There is a huge difference between appearing before a review meeting, weeping and lost, and appearing as an individual prepared to fight. In the first instance, the reviewers involved may not be too competent or care much about you - indeed they may see you as worthless. In the second case, if they know that you are already taking steps to protect yourself and your children they will tread a bit more carefully.
If by the time the meeting is scheduled, you believe that you have been treated badly, for example not given adequate information or help, begin the legal process to defend yourself before the meeting. Not after it when decisions may be made that are unfavourable to you.
Suggested procedure for fighting back
This is not legal advice but our best opinion. The responsibility for choice of action is yours. You may need a McKenzie Friend or any other lay adviser if you cannot get a competent and interested solicitor o help with this or, if you are resourceful, you may be able to do it yourself.
While it is not essential, it would be wise to submit a 'Subject Data Access Request' to the relevant Local Authority to establish what exactly they have on file about you. The format of the request is as follows:
Child Services Data Controller
(local council address)
Subject Access Requests in relation to the following:
(partner's name - if applicable)
Of (home address)
Please send me the information which I am entitled to under section 7(1) of the Data Protection Act 1998 in relation to Case (case numbers for children), currently being run by (lead social worker on your case). Please include:
1. Copies of all records, handwritten AND computerised.
2. Copies of all e-mails, faxes, letters etc.
3. Copies of all telephone messages, transcript and original recordings.
4. Copies of all internal memo's, and external correspondence. Whereby Third parties need to give permission for this, please seek that permission and obtain the relevant records.
5. Copies of all 'Running Sheets'.
Please would you also advise me of the logic involved in any automated decisions taken by you about me pursuant to section 7(1) (d) of the Data ProtectionAct 1998.
If you need further information from me, or a fee, please let me know as soon as possible. If you do not normally handle these requests for your organization, please pass this letter to your Data Protection Officer or another appropriate officer without delay.
This letter has been sent via Recorded Delivery. You have 40 Calendar days in which to respond to this request.
(partner's name - if applicable)
Next step. Lodge a formal complaint. Ask for the complaint form). Use what follows to help construct the complaint.
Question the source of any 'anonymous' referral and ask for the qualifications of whatever social worker or other individual initiated the case. You could even find conflict of interest here as the person may be involved in related profitable activities.
There is case law regarding the pursuance of a family after an anonymous referral where the couple in question were aware of how their case should have been handled and what went wrong for them - http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2013/416.html#back3
Ask for the evidence of there being any risk to your children, even where there was and you are now aware of it and avoiding any repetition, such as potential risk from another person and demonstrate that there is no longer contact with that person.
If Social Survives were aware of this risk you can ask them why they did not advise you as soon as they were aware of it. If the person involved was convicted. this could mean that they badly failed you and that they are the ones at fault.
If they are accusing your partner of violence and have no proof and, if it is not true, you can both flatly deny this, which will create problems for them.
Social workers must provide you with minutes from any CPC or Core Group, which should detail attendees and who said what, so this is another issue to complain about if that has not happened. They have an obligation to keep you informed and involve you in the process and decision making. Anything they have not advised you of in writing is questionable and no one can order you to do anything unless you have committed a crime.
Make your complaint in writing in strong terms to express that you have been treated unfairly.
Copy the complaint to the LA to the following people and copy them in to all correspondence thereafter:
Leader of the Council
CEO of the Council
Councillor responsible for Families and/or Children
Social Worker & SW Team leader/Area Manager if known
Department for Education
You can refuse access to social workers if you want to as you are under no obligation to allow them to interfere. (http://www.fmotl.com/Authority.htm) They will quote the Children's Act (most likely) but this requires consent to be enforced, so if you don't consent, they can't enforce. It's an approach that will put them on the back foot and you must follow it up if they don't respond to your complaint within the published timeframe. Send copies to the Director, Area Manager and to whoever is on the Childrens Board at the county council. The more people who know you are kicking up a stink, the better.
The main thing perhaps is READ EVERYTHING and SIGN NOTHING. If you have signed a form it can be retracted as having been signed 'under duress' if they did not give you a chance to read it thoroughly. Do not let them bully you into agreeing with things before you have had a chance to fully digest them and understand the implications. By signing their paperwork, you are effectively giving them authority over you and justifying their position. Every time they meet with you, they will be looking for more snippets they can twist and use against you, so be extremely careful about what you say and remember that you are entitled to voice/video record everything that goes on in your own home during their visits.
By standing strong, either alone or as a couple, you will have a much better chance of fighting them off. You don't need to be aggressive: be polite but let them know that you are a solid parent or couple, prepared to fight for your children. Article 8 of the Human Rights Act and Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights mean you are entitled to privacy and a family life without arbitrary interference.
If they want to have you or your partner assessed, find out by whom and check that person out. If it is an employed, or former, social worker (or police officer) it is unlikely to be 'independent' or impartial.
You may wish to consider the idea of submitting an Affidavit stating your version of events but it must be completely truthful so that they cannot deny or rebut it. Swearing your 'truth' upon penalty of perjury puts them in a very awkward position and if they cannot provide evidence to the contrary, then that truth becomes a Judgement in Law and the beauty of it is a judge cannot intervene and no one can act on their behalf - it is down to the individual concerned (for example the social worker).
If you choose not to let them continue to harass you and you end up with the police on your doorstep, remember they have no right of entry without a warrant. If they quote PACE, it DOES NOT cover 'concern for welfare' - that threshold is too low to allow them access, so they would themselves be committing an offence of unlawful forced entry -
Syed vs DPP(2010) - http://www.charitybags.org.uk/forced_entry_for_saving_life_or_limb.shtml#powers-of-entry-pace
Simply ask the constable (do not address him/her as 'officer') if they are 'standing on their Oath' - it means they cannot throw their weight around. http://www.watchingyou.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=53&Itemid=133
Also, you are not obliged to answer any questions - not even to give your name - quote 'Rice vs Connolly' and they should back right off.
Ultimately, it is up to you how hard you want to fight, but if you have honestly not harmed your children in any way and you are prepared to do a bit of reading, then the Law is on your side. Most people are just not aware of it in this way.
There is always the option of leaving the country, but you would have to do that before any court orders were put in place and of course there are financial implications attached, not to mention the upheaval for the children and yourselves at having to start a new life. It can be done, but there are no guarantees and as soon as you set foot back in the UK, they will start all over again, so it's a long term/permanent move. If you still want to, or have already done so, read http://www.ectopia.org/ireland.html which while specific to Ireland is relevant to any place you flee to as far as your UK legal position is concerned.
Once the penny drops and you overcome the fear that we have all been indoctrinated with, it gets easier to fight back.
Complaining to the Ombudsman
The complaint is that your rights are being trampled on. The very least you should have been told is what is going on. You should also have been provided with adequate advice and assistance, not just some disinterested solicitor.
You must first complain to Social Services using their complaint form, which you will receive upon phoning for it. You will need their response for the next stage. At any stage you can ask your local Citizen's Advice office for advice or assistance with the process.
Using the Social Services response, or none if they don't respond in good time, you can either get an application form or simply make up your own from the online details required at
Judicial review and other
If the Ombudsman fails you, you have one last national step, which is to seek a judicial review. We would greatly appreciate hearing from parents who have done this.
It may be possible to challenge the final decision on your complaint through this judicial review, in which a court of law reviews the decisions made by the public bodies involved. You can find out more about judicial reviews on the Public Law Project's website at:www.publiclawproject.org.uk.
You can also file a Human Rights or tort claim Finally, once one has tried all the above avenues and failed, one can petition the European Court of Human Rights, within six months of the final failure, quoting what articles of the Convention have been breached.
A Human Rights or tort claim
This is done on a simple-to-use N1 Claim Form, which you can obtain in the local District Registry of the High Court, which may be in the same building as the county court or you can download it below, within a year of the final decision complained of. Your complaint should be that you have been deprived of your Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which provides a right to respect for your private and family life, home and correspondence.
You can do this without a solicitor as a litigant in person, because UK solicitors and lawyers dislike taking on Social Services in court. Any attached references, including medical, could be helpful. You can claim that the action against you was either completely unjust or disproportionate or had inadequate reasons.
This gets you back in court before a different judge who may set aside any earlier court order and replace it with a different one and also award you financial damages.
You can name as defendant Social Services and if you feel that others were also guilty, such as the police, or a school, you can file separate claims against them. The best however is to try to select one only, such as the local authority.
Remember that the most effective step you can take is to inform Social Services that you have initiated a process of complaint to them, to the Ombudsman, to the court via a request for a judicial review and/or an N1 process. Finally, once one has tried all the above avenues, one can petition the European Court of Human Rights, within six months of the final failure, quoting what articles of the Convention have been breached. If you have not already fled the country with your children, the purpose of this is to get them to take you seriously.
If you do all this, how can anyone say you are not a competent mother determined to hold on to your children?
Download a copy of N1 Form at http://hmctscourtfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/n001-eng.pdf
Information on obtaining and filling in the N1 Claim Form at http://www.inbrief.co.uk/claim-preparations/claim-form-n1.htm
Where you stand legally
To find out where you stand legally go to the section on Fleeing to Ireland where the rules are the same for flight to any other country.
For families needing help
For media and general
Back to index page