Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

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Family Justice: ensuring the voice of the child is heard

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Family law places great emphasis on the child. Ensuring that the interests of the child are addressed is central. But how can these issues be addressed if, in the course of proceedings – whether in court or mediation – those taking decisions do not hear directly from the children who are going to be affected by those decisions?

In theory the child’s interests are represented by CAFCASS (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service). But it has been recognised that however well staff in CAFCASS work, they may not always fully understand the child’s perspective. In 2006, CAFCASS established the Family Justice Young People’s Board (FJYPB) – a group of around 40 children and young people who have been through the family justice system or who have an interest in children’s rights and the family courts.

The Board has recently been developing proposals to ensure that the practice and procedure of judges and mediators gives children the opportunity to be heard directly.

In a recent speech to the FJYPB, Simon Hughes, Minister in the Ministry of Justice, announced that the Government would seek to implement proposals for all children over the age of 10 to be heard, both in couirt and in mediations. The precise details of how this will happen still need finalising, but this seems to be a step to which the President of the Family Court, CAFCASS and mediators are committed to.

For more details, see https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/simon-hughes-speech-at-the-voice-of-the-child-conference.
See also http://www.cafcass.gov.uk/about-cafcass/how-we-are-organised/family-justice-young-peoples-board.aspx

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Written by lwtmp

July 30, 2014 at 10:44 am

All change at the Commission for Victims and Witnesses?

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The Independent Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses is a post created under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004. The post has been held, since July 2010 by Louise Casey. She came to the post with a formidable reputation for speaking up about the consequences of anti-social behaviour, and she has taken this outspoken approach into her new role. Over the last 15 months she has issued a number of reports and made a number of important speeches about how the criminal justice system fails the victims of crime, particularly serious violent crime.
In just the last month (October 2011) she has published reports on research into the view of victims on their experience of court and sentencing, and on the needs of families suffering bereavement because of homicide.
She has now announced her resignation to take up a new role to consider the riots which took place in London and other major cities in the summer of 2011.
The Justice Secretary has published a letter thanking her for her work, but also – possibly ominously – indicating that her resignation gives an opportunity to rethink the Commissioner’s role.
To find out more about the Commissioner and her work go to http://www.justice.gov.uk/about/vc/index.htm

Written by lwtmp

October 28, 2011 at 9:19 am

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