…courts must adapt to the realities of the internet and in particular social media…
In this spirit, the following letter went to the Director of Children’s Services at Barnet Council today, together with this check list for the welfare of children:
Mr Jay Mercer
Director Children’s Services
North London Business Park
Oakleigh Road South
London N11 1NP
Dear Mr Mercer
Re Melissa Laird’s parental responsibility for ABC
I am writing with the legal authority of Melissa Laird which I attach.
1) Following the Utting Report of 1997 the then Health Secretary observed: “the Utting Report painted a woeful tale of failure. Many children who had been ‘taken into care’ to protect and help them had not been protected and helped. Instead some had suffered abuse at the hands of those who were meant to help them.”
2) In 2012 the Children Commissioner reported:”Both children in care and those not in care are being sexually exploited. While the majority of children being sexually exploited are not in care, a disproportionate number of them are.”
There are a stream of further recent reports of the systemic neglect and abuse of children in local authority care, besides regular articles in The Telegraph and a Dossier of Online Evidence.
3) Melissa Laird has parental responsibility for ABC Carver and a sustaining duty to protect him from the neglect and abuse within the local authority care system. She carries a criminal liability for the same under section 1(1) Children and Young People Act 1933 in respect to section 17 of the same enactment.
4) To meet that responsibility she must have contact with ABC through Skype. She has a further legal liability in respect to section 1(2) Children and Young People Act 1933 to ascertain his wishes and feelings in regard to his current care and treatment and ensure that his needs are being met in accordance with his wishes and feelings.
Please advise on how you plan to address this urgent issue in protecting ABC from neglect and abuse in the care of Barnet.
5) As ABC’s mother, she is required under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to ensure that there is reasonable justification, if decisions are being taken in respect to his care and treatment disregarding or in contradiction to his express wishes and feelings. If so, then she is obliged to take steps to address such neglect and abuse by the London Borough of Barnet.
6) She expects that Barnet ensures that the details of her name and address [1041 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington DC 2007] are included on the register maintained by the proprietor of ABC’s school or any early years providers and that confirmation is forwarded forthwith.
She further expects to receive all the information on ABC’s health and development as specified by the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage so that she is able to evaluate the extent of neglect and abuse being suffered by ABC in the care of Barnet and take action to protect him from the same.
7) I attach the “welfare checklist” which we are currently working to. Please confirm that this approach accords with that of the London Borough of Barnet’s in determining ABC’s best interests in accordance with section 1 Children Act 1989/Children and Adoption Act 2002 and section 4 Mental Capacity Act 2005, following the best interests requirement of Schedule A1 of the same enactment.
I look forward to hearing from you on 4), 6) and 7) above with some urgency to address the gross deficiencies in ABC’s present circumstances, as described above, in the care of Barnet. Deficiencies which are leading to an unnecessary exposure to injury of ABC’s health as criminal offences by bodies corporate and the responsible person for a child in care.
I also look forward to your proposals regarding date and time for regular Skype sessions.
Sabine K McNeill
Copy to local MP, Local Councillors, the cabinet member for children and families and the London Mayor.
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