UK Family Law Reform

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----- Original Message -----
From: Sarah.Dale@southampton.gov.uk
To: david@mortimers-removals.co.uk
Cc: SBSLCFIR@southampton.gov.uk
Sent: Thursday, February 13, 2014 10:08 AM
Subject: Response to FOI request: FOI/1314/1143

Dear David

Please find attached the response to your recent FOI request for information.

(a) the council authority, council officer and the name of that officer, who decides on what information on child neglect and abuse is collected & held by your council;

Response: Section 18 of the Children Act 2004 requires every top tier local authority to appoint a Director of Children’s Services. Southampton City Council have a People Director, this role covers the statutory requirements as issued by the Secretary of State for Education. The People Director is Alison Elliott. Within this role the People Director has professional responsibility for Children’s Services including all operational matters. The Director will ensure they adhere to the ‘Statutory Guidance on the roles and responsibilities of the Director of Children’s Services and Lead Member for Children’s Services’ this can be located on the Department of Education website: http://media.education.gov.uk

In conjunction with the above The Children Act places a duty on Local Authorities to take the lead in safeguarding the welfare of children. We can take any lawful action to ensure this happened. We have a duty to do our job which involves us in seeking information and support from others as set out in Working Together 2013. The link to Working Together 2013 is listed below:

http://www.education.gov.uk

(b) the means by which that person is held to account by a member of the public for their performance in discharging that public function;

Response: The People Director is accountable to the Chief Executive (Head of Paid Service) however all local authorities are required to set up a Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB). The role of the LSCB is to co-ordinate and monitor the effectiveness of arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people across the agencies. The Chair of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board is accountable for the effective working of the LSCB. Every LSCB has lay members.

If a member of the public is unhappy about service delivery or performance they are entitled to make a complaint. There are laws governing children’s social care and the local authority are required to have specific arrangements in place for dealing with these complaints. Please refer to the link below for the process and stages for complaining about a children’s social care service.

http://www.southampton.gov.uk

In the event of any confidentiality breaches and breaches of data protection legislation then the Caldicott Guardian appointed by the Local Authority has a responsibility to notify the Information Commissioner (Government) of these.

(c) the council authority, the council officer and the name of that officer, responsible for your child protection policies;

Response: The role of Southampton Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) is to coordinate what is done by each person/agency on the Board for the purposes of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in the area. The LSCB ensures the effectiveness of what is done by each person/agency for these purposes. However each agency is responsible for the delivery of their children protection procedures. Further information on the work of the LSCB and procedures are available on line http://southamptonlscb.co.uk/ and http://4lscb.proceduresonline.com/chapters/contents.html

(d) the means by which that person is held to account by a member of the public for their performance in discharging that public function;

Response: The LSCB is an independent body accountable to the Government Via Ofsted. The effectiveness of LSCBs are inspected by Ofsted as the same time as an inspection of the Local Authority. These inspections take place under 15 (A) of the Children Act 2004. Please refer to section 2 in the link below for the framework that Ofsted use to inspect the effectiveness of LSCBs. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources

Details about the role and responsibility of the LSCB can also be found in WORKING TOGETHER 2013 please refer to link in response to point (a). Please refer to the link in response (c) for information about Southampton LSCB.

The Chair of the LSCB is independent and they hold all agencies to account. The Chief Executive (Head of Paid service) has the authority to appoint/remove the Chair of the LSCB in agreement with other members of the LSCB.

If a member of the public was unhappy how an agency had discharged its public function then the appropriate agency complaints procedure would apply. For children’s social care this is the complaints procedure as listed in response (b).

(e) how the function in (c) is properly discharged and held accountable for policies which would best effectively protect children from abuse if the person referred to in (a) does not collect any information on child abuse perpetratration?"

Response: The Council works in partnership with a number of agencies to ensure that children are safeguarded against abuse. We have robust processes in place with these agencies for information gathering and sharing. The Council would not be the lead agency in holding and collecting information on child abuse perpetrators/alleged perpetrators, this is the responsibility of Hampshire Constabulary. Information held by the Police would be shared as part of a children protection investigation, but it wouldn’t be the responsibility of Southampton City Council to hold information on child abuse perpetrators.

All information is held in line with Data protection expectations and is regulated through legislation and organisations are held to account by the Information Commissioner.

Please note that a copy of this response and other Council responses may be included in the Council’s disclosure log which is available on the Council’s website –

http://www.southampton.gov.uk/council-partners/accesstoinfo/foi/foi_search.aspx

If you are interested in any further information from the Council, I recommend that you check our disclosure log first. It is likely that the log may already have responses to similar requests and the information you seek may be immediately available to you.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original letter and should be addressed to:

Head of Legal and Democratic Services

Southampton City Council
legal@southampton.gov.uk

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

With thanks.

Sarah Dale

Southampton City Council

----- Original Message -----
From: david@mortimers-removals.co.uk
To: Sarah.Dale@southampton.gov.uk
Sent: Monday, February 03, 2014 12:23 PM
Subject: Please accept this message as a official request for information.

Dear Sarah Dale,

Please will you kindly tell me:

(a) the council authority, council officer and the name of that officer, who decides on what information on child neglect and abuse is collected & held by your council;

(b) the means by which that person is held to account by a member of the public for their performance in discharging that public function;

(c) the council authority, the council officer and the name of that officer, responsible for your child protection policies;

(d) the means by which that person is held to account by a member of the public for their performance in discharging that public function;

(e) how the function in (c) is properly discharged and held accountable for policies which would best effectively protect children from abuse if the person referred to in (a) does not collect any information on child abuse perpetratration?"

Yours Sincerely

David Mortimer

----- Original Message -----
From: Sarah.Dale@southampton.gov.uk
To: david@mortimers-removals.co.uk
Cc: SBSLCFIR@southampton.gov.uk
Sent: Monday, February 03, 2014 12:18 PM
Subject: RE: Response to FOI request: FOI/1314/1001

Dear David

The Council works in partnership with agencies such as the Police and Health to ensure that children are safeguarded against abuse and that any information relating to alleged abuse is shared with the correct people. Hampshire Constabulary are the Lead agency with regard to the prosecution of alleged perpetrators of child abuse through the criminal justice system and therefore it is recommended that you submit a FOI to them to ensure that you obtain the most relevant and correct information. I have attached the link below for reference.

http://www.hampshire.police.uk/internet/do-it-online/online-forms/foi-request.html

----- Original Message -----
From: david@mortimers-removals.co.uk
To: Sarah.Dale@southampton.gov.uk
Cc: SBSLCFIR@southampton.gov.uk
Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 2:58 PM
Subject: Re: Response to FOI request: FOI/1314/1001

Dear Sarah Dale,

What I mean by substantiated child abuse cases are those who have been taken through the criminal justice system & found guilty of a child abuse offence. What I mean by child is those under the age of 18 years of age. What I want is information on the perpetrators of child abuse. I am not asking for any information about the child victims.

Yours Sincerely

David Mortimer

----- Original Message -----
From: Sarah.Dale@southampton.gov.uk
To: david@mortimers-removals.co.uk
Cc: SBSLCFIR@southampton.gov.uk
Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 2:41 PM
Subject: Response to FOI request: FOI/1314/1001

Dear David

You requested the following information.

Please will you kindly tell me what the (a) gender and (b) familial relationship was to the child victim of offenders in substantiated child abuse cases in the area which you have a duty to protect children from abuse for the last full year which figures are available, broken down by (i) physical abuse, (ii) emotional abuse, (iii) sexual abuse and (iv) cases of neglect.

I confirm that the city council may hold some of the information you requested.

From our preliminary assessment, we estimate that compliance with your request would exceed the appropriate cost limit under the section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). The Section states that a public authority is not obliged to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying with the request would exceed the appropriate limit. This is currently £450 for a local authority. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 18 hours in determining whether the authority holds the information, locating, retrieving and extracting the information. Southampton City Council holds a list of children and young people involved in child protection planning and the categories used. This information is generated from our client database. Information about substantiated child abuse cases, victims and perpetrators, if held, would be manually recorded within the case file. Southampton City Council currently has 230 children and young people involved in child protection planning therefore to be able to manually review each of these cases would exceed the appropriate cost limit under section 12 of the FOI Act.

Under section 1(3) of the FOIA, a public authority need not comply with a request unless any further information reasonably required to locate the information is supplied. If a request is too broad or general in nature, then public authorities have a duty to provide advice and assistance to the applicant in order to focus the request.

Hence, I would like to explore with you how the City Council may best assist you to request relevant information which we hold. If you narrow the scope of your request, we may be able to provide the information free of charge because it would cost less than the appropriate limit to do so. Any reformulated request the department receives from you will be treated as a fresh FOI request.

Sarah Dale

Directorate Management Assistant

Southampton City Council

Who do local authorities protect children from? 28th December 2013

http://www.ukfamilylawreform.co.uk/abuse.htm

What is and who is behind the Family Law Reform Group?

http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/ukfamilylawreform/info

The Family Law Reform Group, as the name suggests, is a group specifically set up to campaign for UK family law reform. It is the brainchild of David Mortimer. David, a father who has been through the family court process and suffered many of the pitfalls and injustices of an outmoded legal system, has long campaigned for changes in family law to achieve justice for all, and in the hope and expectation that his sons’ sons and other fathers’ sons will never have to endure what he or they have done. That is the ethos of this Group – to build a better future for our children.

I became acquainted with David a number of years ago through a mutual contact while researching for the first edition of my legal handbook Fathers Matter. During this time I have observed his determination, perseverance and tenacity in bringing difficult and highly controversial family issues to the foreground, even though on numerous occasions it has brought him into conflict with those in a position of authority. Although David instigated the formation of the Group, he makes it very clear that he is just one part of it and the Group depends on the input of all its members to bring about radical reform which is its ultimate goal . The Group also provides support and information to anyone who needs it.

Celia Conrad, former specialist family lawyer and author of Fathers Matter.