Justice, speed and thoroughness in child protection court proceedings: messages from England

Dickens, Jonathan, Beckett, Chris and Bailey, Sue (2014) Justice, speed and thoroughness in child protection court proceedings: messages from England. Children and Youth Services Review, 46. pp. 103-111. ISSN 0190-7409

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Abstract

This paper reports and assesses the outcomes of a pilot programme in London to reduce the duration of child protection court proceedings. The initiative, known as the ‘Tri-borough Care Proceedings Pilot’, was intended to reduce the usual duration to 26 weeks, ahead of national moves in that direction. The paper locates the issue of court delay in a wider political and child welfare context, highlighting the dilemmas of balancing principles of family autonomy and child safety, support and protection, thoroughness and speed, welfare practices and court processes. It compares the policy, legal and court contexts in the USA and England, showing that what might appear at first sight a local initiative actually relates to a much wider, long-lasting and international debate about how to reach important decisions about children in a reasonable timescale. The paper concludes that there will always be, and must always be, tensions between the courts, national government and local welfare agencies. The pilot shows that greater speed can be achieved by a concerted effort from all the agencies, but at the same time the division of powers and responsibilities is a bedrock for protecting individual rights in liberal democratic societies. Welfare and legal practitioners alike need to appreciate this tension in child protection policy and practice, and resist recrimination when there are differences of opinion. Knowing that other countries face the same challenges can help to promote a more realistic and sophisticated understanding of the dilemmas and the implications for practice, and so help to bring about better decisions for children.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: care proceedings,juvenile dependency ,tri-borough pilot,court delay,permanence,adoption
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Social Work
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2014 13:40
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2020 23:42
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/50258
DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.08.010

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