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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

18 NOV 2008

New ALC Co-Chair criticises Government over Baby P

The newly elected as Co-Chair of the Association of Lawyers for Children, Piers Pressdee, a barrister at Harcourt Chambers, has criticised the Government over the failings of the child protection system that led to Baby P's tragic death.

Following the ALC's annual conference that took place in Southampton on 13th-15th November 2008, Mr Pressdee said: "We will watch the review closely, but let's not wait for it to tell us what is already utterly obvious. The system failed Baby P. That child should have been subject to care proceedings, which would have given him a voice and ensured that his welfare was paramount. His interests should have been independently represented by a court-appointed Guardian and an expert children lawyer, and his case should have been under the overall control of a judge grounded in family law with time enough to deal with his case properly.

"Whatever the failings locally, the fault-lines in the area of child protection go to the very top of national government, which discourages the use of care proceedings that it views as too costly and which has undermined so many parts of the system that should have been there to protect Baby P.

"The Government may say that its priority is safeguarding children, but, when it comes down to it, it's the Treasury that calls the shots and that's why the family justice system is in such crisis.

"The culture needs to change. There's too much emphasis on form-filling, box-ticking and budget-balancing. What really matters is the child - all the children in our society, their safety and their welfare. That's where our focus should be and where our resources should go. And we don't need a report to tell us that."

Further reading: Lord Laming to conduct a review after the death of Baby P

Family Court Practice, The

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