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
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn