Britain's top family judge: 'Give contraception lessons to problem parents'

 

Social Affairs Correspondent

Courts should consider ordering contraception lessons for problem parents who have had multiple children taken into care, Britain’s most senior family judge said today.

Sir James Munby said cases where mothers had a dozen or more children only for them to be taken away by social service were a “distressingly regular occurrence”. Sir James, who is president of the family division of the High Court, said a solution being tried out at the moment allows courts to recommend parents for birth control programmes.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the British Association of Social Workers in central London, he said colleagues had heard cases where mothers had up to 15 children taken into care. He described a new initiative being trialled around the country called the Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDAC), where judges deal more directly with families in difficult circumstances.

“The new FDAC projects have dealt with the taking into care of 14 children of one mother and colleagues have dealt with a case of 15,” Sir James was quoted as saying in The Telegraph, adding: “I have certainly dealt with a case of 11 children.”

Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court (Photoshot) Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court (Photoshot) “These cases are still happening. 11 children being taken into care, or 14 children - these are very usual. Repetitive pregnancies and repetitive care proceedings are a distressingly regular occurrence.

Pilots of the FDAC began in 2008 as a new way of dealing with care proceedings when parental substance misuse causes harm to children but the parents are ready to tackle their problems. The court coordinates services to create bespoke help for families, with the aim of giving children a better chance of a stable family life.

“With some local authorities contraception is an important part of the thinking,” Sir James said. “The whole thing is very intensive but it does seem to work. The savings if you can avoid care proceedings are enormous.”

The new court puts parents directly in touch with judges, often without lawyers present. Sir James said the change had been successful but was opposed by lawyers, who he said had found the concept “difficult to accept”.

He also spoke of an “irreconcilable” tension between government guidelines on adoption and a recent ruling from the Supreme Court, saying: “Recently ministerial guidance came out, in spring last year, which contained at some point the statement or an exaltation that social workers should get away from the idea that adoption is a last resort.

“Two months later a ruling from the Supreme Court said adoption should in fact only be used as a last resort. They are very difficult to reconcile - that is judicial speak for irreconcilable. It would be foolish and dishonest for me to deny there is that tension.”

He added: “In the final analysis if there is a clash between what the Supreme Court says and the guidance says then under our constitutional system the Supreme Court wins.” The government would need to change the law, he said, if they wanted to shift the balance in favour of their own guidelines.

Sir James also discussed the need for the courts to have a built-in system for adults who are curious to find out the reasons they went into care as a child. He said there should be a way for them to be given the information, admitting: “We don't deal with this adequately.”

News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
football
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
In other news ... Jon Snow performed at last year's Newsroom's Got Talent charity event
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?