MoJ report on Assessing Risk of Harm to Children and Parents in Private Law Children Cases
The Ministry of Justice has today published the Final Report on “Assessing Risk of Harm to Children and Parents in Private Law Children Cases”, by the panel of experts undertaking the work.
In May 2019 the Ministry of Justice convened a panel of family justice experts to lead a call for evidence on how effectively the family court responds to allegations of domestic abuse and other serious offences in private law children proceedings. It specifically focused on the application of Practice Direction 12J, Practice Direction 3AA, The Family Procedure Rules Part 3A, and s.91(14) orders, and is part of the Ministry of Justice’s efforts to build a more detailed understanding of any harm caused during or following proceedings in the family court.
The MoJ-chaired panel was made up of academics, members of the judiciary and family justice system professionals from England and Wales. Following the publication of the Progress Update in October 2019, this final report outlines the issues currently faced by users of the family courts and suggests recommendations for the family justice system to take forward to improve the way that courts identify and respond to allegations of harm in private law children proceedings. Whilst we initially set out to seek evidence from a wide range of harms that people in the family justice system have been exposed to the overwhelming majority of evidence received focused on the issue of domestic abuse, and this is therefore the focus of this report.
We are immensely grateful to all of those who contributed evidence by way of responding to the public call-for-evidence, contributing to focus groups and roundtables or submitting responses on behalf of their organisations. With the wealth of evidence received (over 1,200 responses), the panel were able to make a number of immediate and longer-term recommendations in their final report.
Alongside the report the Ministry of Justice has published an Implementation Plan, setting out the first steps theywill be taking.
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