Our ‘child protection’ system is an international scandal
Children of foreign families resident in the UK are being seized by social workers on an astonishing scale
By Christopher Booker
6:54PM BST 20 Jul 2013
Representatives from 14 European countries have expressed concern that social services’ behaviour may sometimes be in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
A remarkable meeting recently took place at the House of Commons, organised by John Hemming, the only MP who for years has been battling on behalf of those thousands of families being torn apart each year, for no good reason, by our weirdly dysfunctional “child protection” system. The meeting was attended by representatives of no fewer than 34 countries, including four ambassadors, all concerned by the astonishing scale on which the children of foreign families resident in the UK are being seized by social workers to be taken into foster care or sent for adoption. One estimate suggests that these now include no fewer than 6,500 of the 67,000 children currently in state “care” in England, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds a year.
One particular concern of many of those attending from 14 European countries was that, far too often, the seizing of their children appears to be in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, enshrining in law the right to respect for family life. So outraged last year was the Slovak government at the treatment of two small Slovak boys that it threatened to haul the UK government before the European Court of Human Rights. For once, the social workers were eventually ordered by the Court of Appeal to allow their mother to take them back to Bratislava.
Another concern of the meeting was the consistent failure of our social workers to notify the embassies that their nationals had been taken into care (as Mr Hemming explained, this is illegal), or then to allow them to have any contact with the children. Yet the social workers are quite happy to make last-minute demands of the embassies that they provide detailed information on the families. “Between us and the British authorities,” said one speaker, “there is only one-way traffic.” A further common complaint was that the lawyers provided by local authorities to represent the families in court seem all too often to be hand in glove with “the system”, colluding to have the seized children kept in care.
I have reported here more than a dozen such stories of foreign children being removed from their parents for what appeared to be quite bizarre reasons, such as the French mother whose children were snatched from her when she was only visiting London for a brief holiday. Another case involved a German mother, who only escaped with her son back to Germany in the nick of time after she had admitted that she was a bit depressed to a stranger, who promptly reported her to social services. On Friday I heard from a Russian mother, who has worked here for years, that although social workers had at last allowed her 16-year-old daughter to return to live with her after two years in foster care, the foster carer is still being paid £500 a week for looking after the girl.
What is clear is that the state of Britain’s “child protection” system is rapidly becoming viewed by other countries as an international scandal. They cannot understand how our system can be allowed to behave in such an inhuman and corrupt fashion. But apart from the admirable Mr Hemming, scarcely a single other politician seems to know or care.” ends