He She Makes no difference to family judge and psychological expert
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Two more glimpses of the surreal underworld of our “child protection” system. I spoke last week to a mother whose two young children were recently removed by social workers because she had once been involved with a violent partner. He was long out of her life, and she had been living happily with the father of her younger child. The only evidence against her was a report commissioned by social workers from a “psychological expert”. I gather that the local authority’s lawyer told a court that, according to the report, the mother was suffering from “a severe personality disorder”.
Utterly baffled by this charge, the quite normal mother noticed that the report repeatedly described its subject as “he” rather than “she”. She drew this to the attention of her barrister, who put it to the “expert” that it seemed to refer to someone other than his client. Had it perhaps been copied from a different report? The “expert” acknowledged and apologised for her “mistake”. But the magistrates seemed quite unfazed by this admission, ordering that the children should be sent for adoption because they might be “at risk of emotional harm” – even though the mother only lost them in the first place because of the danger posed by an ex-partner she has not seen for two years.
Meanwhile in a northern city, last Monday, there were ugly scenes when half a dozen girls aged 16 and 17, living “semi-independently” in a local care home under social services supervision, came to the social workers’ offices to collect money they are given for food and day-to-day expenses.
When a social worker accused one girl of spending her money on drink, the girl angrily remonstrated. The social worker then refused to give money to any of the girls, who began shouting abuse and banging at the windows.
Terrified social workers locked them all in and fled, leaving the girls to protest loudly that they want to go back home, while daubing the room with graffiti accusing social workers of being “child snatchers”. I cannot, alas, recount how this unhappy affair ended, but next day, I am told, the offices were still in some chaos.