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----- Original Message -----
Dear Westminster City Council,
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?"
Dear Mr Mortimer
Thank you for your email received here on 30 December 2013, where you requested information on the below:
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..
This request is being handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
We are unable to process your request. This is because the cost of locating and retrieving the information exceeds the "appropriate limit" as stated in the Freedom of Information (Fees and Appropriate Limit) Regulations 2004.
The request would require interrogation of all electronic case files for children who have been subject to a child protection plan in the past year. From April 2012 – March 2013, 108 Child Protection plans were started in Westminster. Children become subject to a CP plan when concerns of significant harm are substantiated and the child is judged to be suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm. Theoretically we could look at each case and determine where we consider the risk of that harm to be i.e. from a parent, but that is different to identification of "offenders in substantiated child abuse cases".
It is estimated that it would cost £1350 to comply with your request.
In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 this letter acts as a Refusal Notice.
You may wish to refine and resubmit your request so that it reduces the cost to within the "appropriate limit". Please contact me if you would like some advice on refining your request.
If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request you have the right of appeal. If you wish to appeal please set out in writing your grounds of appeal and send to:
Knowledge & Information Management Team
10th Floor East, City Hall, 64 Victoria Street
London SW1E 6QP
Should you still be dissatisfied with the outcome of any such complaint you have the right to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner, pursuant to section 50 of the FOIA. The contact details are:
Information Commissioner's Office
Customer Care and Complaints Team
What is and who is behind the Family Law Reform Group?
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.