Letter: Children silenced

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The prospect of there being someone children can telephone directly about their plight in care is a welcome one ("Ministers look at ombudsman for children plan", 27 December).

But this will only be a real improvement for them if local authorities and their carers end the current practice, in some cases, of refusing such children private access to a telephone and enforcing this with injunctions.

Well-meaning proposals must also recognise that care for some children begins as soon as the local authority begins Children Act 1989 proceedings, which in complex cases may last for as much as a year. When children in care in these circumstances seek outside help their attempts are usually blocked by severe High Court injunctions making it impossible for their voices to be heard.

The person appointed to be a children's commissioner must not tolerate this. He or she must not be from within a social work or legal community which allows this to happen.