The Family Justice review has been published today and the full 228 page review can be read here http://bit.ly/sSx0IF The Review chaired by David Norgrove has made a list of recommendations including how to ensure that the child’s voice is heard and truly central to the operation of the family justice system.
It proposes to create a Family Justice Service which should have a strong central and local governance. The recommendations seek to ensure that there is robust judicial leadership to support the culture change amongst the family judiciary.
There are recommendations as to proper planning for case management to deliver a consistent and effective service in the courts. There is an aim to ensure the courts are as user-friendly as possible and that the current three tiers of court should be where possible in one building with a single point of entry.
There are recommendations for those that work within the new Family Justice Service, namely that they have the appropriate skills and knowledge to deal with families. A pilot scheme where Judges and Magistrates learn of each others decisions and outcomes for children and families on whom they have adjudicated.
More training for staff and the judiciary encouraging leadership responsibilities.
Perhaps the headlines have been grabbed by the private law Children Act recommendations where it states that “No legislation should be introduced that creates or risks creating a perception that there is a parental right to substantially shared or equal time for both parents”
This has perhaps been seen as a blow for those organisations seeking a greater acknowledgement of the role of fathers but as explained in the report, the evidence from countries such as Australia where legislation has been enacted is that this has led to damaging consequences for many children as the “shared” principle became counting the hours spent with each parent and not the quality time.
There are many other aspects to the review which I will deal with in subsequent blogs.