Follow the Money Part Two
(please read Part One first, which sets out the context and purpose)


Social workers
The social worker is the person at the sharp end. On any individual case, they have to make the judgment call as to whether the situation can work at home or whether the child needs to be removed. There isn’t a black and white answer in all individual cases, there’s an element of discretion and individual judgment. They do have the power to make a recommendation to the Court as to what the final outcome should be, though it is the Court who decide on the final outcome.


(a) Direct Influence – social workers are paid a salary. They don’t get performance related pay, they don’t get bonuses, they don’t get a pay rise for hitting a target about how many children they take away. There is no direct financial benefit for a social worker for taking a child away as opposed to leaving a child at home. Social worker’s pay increases are based on a very rigid local government formula, which are about experience, qualifications and time in the post. There isn’t a direct financial correlation between the recommendations they make and the pay they receive

(b) Indirect Influence – although social workers can’t get a PAY RISE as a result of what they do in the job, it is possible that they get a better position (and a better paid position) as a result. It is possible for a social worker to become a senior social worker/senior practioner, or a team manager, or to move into becoming an Independent Reviewing Officer. Those jobs are all better paid. It is theoretically possible that a social worker could directly financially benefit as a result of doing what their employers consider to be a ‘good job’. If one was working for a Local Authority where “more adoptions = good” then this could have an impact on individual workers.
(c) Ultra-Cautious – Maybe the ‘bonuses’ from hitting adoption targets aren’t made in their paypackets, maybe they are cash deals under the table, brown envelope territory [If anyone at a Local Authority were doing that, there would be a substantial risk of prison, and Local Authorities have audits and accounts. It is a pretty unlikely accusation]. There are social workers who go on to leave social work to go and work for a Fostering Agency, or CAFCASS and there might be a better chance of landing such a job if there’s a greater demand. There have been social workers who have set up their own Fostering Agency and then went on to sell it to make huge amounts of money [This is true, there were at least two social workers who did that. ]
Job Security
(a) Direct influence – you could not sack a social worker for ‘not taking enough kids away’ or for ‘not recommending adoption enough’. Sacking someone in a local authority is not an easy thing to do, and this would come nowhere near the standard that would be required.

It could however be, that an individual worker would feel that ‘their face didn’t fit’ if they were out of step with what their manager or Local Authority thought about thresholds for removing children or managing risks at home.

(b) Indirect influence – A worker who makes the wrong call on risk could be in for a very difficult time. In our current climate, making the wrong call and a child left at home being seriously injured or killed is probably going to lead to a sacking, a public enquiry, damage to your reputation, being less employable in the future. Making the wrong call the other way – recommending adoption when the child could be at home has less risk for the worker’s employment. The ‘safety first’ or covering your back mentality, might have an impact on approach to risk.

The less children that are at home on a social workers caseload, the less risk the individual social worker has of something going wrong. (and on a personal level, the less visits they have to make, the less anxiety they have about the children, the less stress) Those are all things that could indirectly influence a social worker’s decision on an individual case, even if they don’t realise it.
(c) Ultra-Cautious – if there is no ‘demand’ for child protection, then there will be less social workers, people would be laid off. If the pre Baby P figures were a more realistic level of the amount of care proceedings that ought to be taken, there would be 6,500 sets of care proceedings a year instead of 10,000. That’s a lot less social workers, and who wants to be unemployed? So rather than leave families alone to get on with things, is there a tendency to find problems where there aren’t any, to go into Court on things that could be left alone, to keep that ‘demand’ going?


Local Authority

I’ll quickly touch on the impact for Local Authorities as a whole, many could be said to be the same as for social workers.

The most ‘expensive’ cases for Local Authorities, in terms of writing cheques and a quantifiable cost is a case where the child is in long-term foster care. A child in long-term foster care costs a Local Authority about £130 per week in fostering allowance – payment to the carer (it goes up as the child gets older), or nearly £7000 per year

So, having a child who is 5, put in long-term foster care, ends up costing the Local Authority at least £77,000 over the rest of his childhood. (The real costs are higher, since many foster carers are Agency carers and the LA pays a sum on top to the agency, and there are other costs to take into account. £100,000 to have a child in foster care for life is probably about right)

A child who is adopted is more difficult to quantify – some adopters receive an adoption allowance and some receive nothing at all. And the amount that is paid varies on the need of the child and the means of the adopters. That means that it is harder to work out exactly what it will cost, but it is likely to much less than fostering over a long period.

A child who stays with a relative will probably receive a sum comparable to fostering allowance, but it might be less (if there is a Child Arrangements Order or a Special Guardianship Order, it will almost certainly be based on fostering allowance but be less because it can take other income into account)

Does all that have an impact on recommending Adoption rather than Fostering? It is not impossible that it does. There are a lot of other reasons why Adoption is considered by Local Authorities to be the ‘gold standard’ of permanent placements, but it is reasonable to bear in mind that it is also appreciably cheaper for them than fostering.

What about adoption v a child staying at home?

A child who stays at home doesn’t require a cheque to be written once a month, the costs there are more about the cost of staff time in visits and the supports and monitoring that are in place. These are hard to quantify, precisely because there isn’t just a simple figure to write a cheque for, but of course, £7,000 a year would buy a lot of support and help for a hard-pressed family. The likelihood is that a placement at home works out financially cheapest for a Local Authority.

It would be difficult to argue that a Local Authority makes a recommendation of Adoption rather than placement at home for financial reasons. Although at a time when support services have been cut and continue to be cut, there would be costs of setting those services back up.

(There are the other pressures as already outlined about the consequences for getting risk wrong being massively worse for ‘wrong to leave the child at home’ as opposed to ‘wrong to remove’)

[And for the Ultra-Cautious – the ‘adoption target and bonuses’ could have an impact here. If we look at one of the sources exposing this scandal, Sue Reid at the Daily Mail

claim that some authorities got two million pounds over three years for hitting adoption targets. That would be about £670,000 per year. I don’t know how many extra care proceedings it is alleged that they had to issue to get that bonus, but if it was more than ten, it wouldn’t make any economic sense, because they’d be paying out more than the bonus was worth to get the bonus]

[What one could do about this – would it be unreasonable, given that Local Authorities now after the Court of Appeal decision in Re W Neath Port Talbot 2013 have to set out the detail of what support would be available if the Court went with each of the various placement options, to expect a Local Authority to cost these out? That would certainly make it transparent if a Local Authority’s recommendation happened to coincide with the one that was cheapest for them]


Local Authority lawyers

Advance disclosure here – I am one.

The Local Authority lawyer advises the social worker as to whether threshold is met, how to present their evidence, what the legal tests are for each type of order that might be sought, what the balancing and competing factors are. Fundamentally, they are advising the social worker about risk; but where the social worker can be 100% child-focussed, the Local Authority lawyer has to keep some focus on the risk that any course of action could have for the Local Authority. It is a part of their job to keep the Local Authority OUT of the Sunday papers, away from a public enquiry, away from judicial criticism.

Most of what I said about social workers also applies. The influence, to my mind, is more likely to be in the Job Security – indirect sphere than any other.

Lawyers by their nature are cautious (try to ever get one to say that they are 100% confident of anything – even the sun coming up tomorrow morning. They are more likely to channel their inner David Hume “Although many past cases of sunrise do not guarantee the future of nature, my experience of them does get me used to the idea and produces in me an expectation that the sun will rise again tomorrow. I cannot prove that it will, but I feel that it must.” )

A lawyer whose job is to advise on risk (both to the child and to the Local Authority if they get their decision wrong) is even more likely to be cautious. The fact that nationally we are presently very much on the ‘child rescue’ scale of things and that ‘child dies at home’ is a huge scandal with big repercussions and that ‘child wrongly removed’ does not get the same attention (just google Baby P, then google Al Alas Wray and you can see that there’s far more controversy when social workers underestimate risk than when they overestimate it)

Ideally a Local Authority care lawyer has an awareness of that implicit tendency to play safe, and then brings ‘family preservation’ into the balance to take stock of whether they are making the right decision or just the ‘safe’ decision about level of risk.



(a) Direct Influence – Guardians are paid a salary. They don’t get performance related pay, they don’t get bonuses, they don’t get a pay rise for hitting a target about how many children they recommend should be taken away. There is no direct financial benefit for a Guardian for taking a child away as opposed to leaving a child at home. Guardian’s pay increases are based on a very rigid civil service formula, which are about experience, qualifications and time in the post. There isn’t a direct financial correlation between the recommendations they make and the pay they receive

[There are SOME Guardians who get paid on an hourly rate – self-employed Guardians, but these are less common these days, having been unattractive to CAFCASS as an organisation. It is probably easier for a self-employed Guardian to justify spending more time working on a case where the child is at home than where the child is in care, so any financial incentive there works the other way]

(b) Indirect Influence – unlike social workers, there isn’t really a promotion scheme available for a Guardian – there isn’t a “senior Guardian” or “Guardian team manager” – there is the possibility of moving into management in CAFCASS, but there does seem to be a hard divide in CAFCASS between Guardians and administrators and not many people cross over.
(c) Ultra-Cautious – A lot of Guardians come originally from Local Authorities, do they have one eye on the possibility of moving back there, possibly as a manager? If you are a Guardian with management aspirations, the Local Authority is a better prospect than trying to achieve that at CAFCASS? Is there thus a financial incentive on keeping the Local Authority sweet by agreeing with them, so that you keep the options open on getting a juicy job in the future?
Job Security
(a) Direct influence – you could not sack a Guardian for ‘not taking enough kids away’ or for ‘not recommending adoption enough’. Sacking someone in the civil service is not an easy thing to do, and this would come nowhere near the standard that would be required.

It could however be, that an individual worker would feel that ‘their face didn’t fit’ if they were out of step with what their organisation thought about thresholds for removing children or managing risks at home. We do know from High Court cases that there had been a culture at CAFCASS of management thinking that they could influence recommendations and conclusions. We also can see that CAFCASS is positioned on the ‘child rescue’ side of the scale, considering ‘safeguarding’ to be their highest priority.

(b) Indirect influence – A Guardian who makes the wrong call on risk could be in for a very difficult time. In a similar way to that set out for social workers, although there is a degree of insulation – it is always more likely to be the social worker than the Guardian who carries the can. The ‘safety first’ or covering your back mentality, might have an impact on approach to risk.

(c) Ultra-Cautious – if there is no ‘demand’ for child protection, then there will be less Guardians, people would be laid off. If the pre Baby P figures were a more realistic level of the amount of care proceedings that ought to be taken, there would be 6,500 sets of care proceedings a year instead of 10,000. That’s a lot less Guardians, and who wants to be unemployed? So rather than speaking out when ‘unnecessary proceedings’ are issued, do Guardians play along, to keep the demand artificially high?
Solicitors for parents
(a) Direct Influence – some solicitors are simply salaried, i.e they get a wage from their employers. Some are partners and they get a share of what the firm earns. The amount of revenue generated by an individual solicitor will impact on the amount of money that they are paid next year, and whether they get a bonus. They will tend to have targets on how much they should earn.

They don’t, however, get paid by the OUTCOME of the case or the results they achieve, but on whether the work they did generated money. It is possible for a solicitor to achieve a result that the client was happy about, but lose money on the work they did, or to make money on the case but end up with a bad outcome. (That’s because care cases pay a fixed fee, and the more time the lawyer spends working on the case, the less profitable the case is, and can even get to the point of the lawyer losing money on the case)

There isn’t a direct financial influence on the solicitor on any individual case of what the outcome was. But obviously a solicitor who leaves their clients unhappy tends to not get much work in the future. If there is a financial incentive, it is therefore to try to make the client happy so that they would recommend that solicitor to other people and keep work flowing in.
(b) Indirect influence -the less time a solicitor spends on a case, the more profitable the case is. This is a perverse incentive for those cases that require a lot of work


That is complicated though, because if you end up spending more than TWICE as much time as the Legal Aid Agency allocate to an average case, you will get paid for ALL of your work, but if you spend 1.85 times as much time as they allocate to an average case, you get paid for the average case, thus making it a gamble once you spend more than an average amount of time on a case.

That’s confusing, so I’ll try to illustrate. The numbers aren’t real, just to help explain.

Let’s say 10 hours is the average (the FLOOR) and 20 hours is the amount over which you’ll get paid for the time spent (the CEILING), then a case will pay for 10 hours of work whether the solicitor spent 1 hour or 19 hours on it, but once you get over the CEILING of 20 hours, it pays for the hours you spent on it. To borrow from Mr Micawber – to do 19 hours work and get paid for 10, result misery. To do 9 hours work and get paid for 10 result happiness. Sorry, for non-lawyers this is complicated but it is important

A bad, shoddy, lazy or greedy solicitor could earn more money out of a parents case by doing very little work on it – as little as they could feasibly get away with. I don’t think that’s true of 99% of solicitors – it isn’t a line of work that people came into to get rich, but there are bad apples in every profession.
Does a solicitor who gets a reputation as a real “fighter for parents” end up being overlooked for Guardian work? Parent work finally does pay better than Guardian work, so if a solicitor was choosing between the two types of work, parent work is more financially beneficial (higher fixed fee, more chance of getting past the Ceiling), but is it possible that solicitors who would prefer to do a mixed assortment of work, sometimes for the parent sometimes for the child, might feel indirectly pressured to ‘tone it down’ when acting for a parent so that they also pick up Guardian work? [Really hard to quantify this – my gut feeling on a long time in the profession is that most people simply recognise when a solicitor is doing a good job for their client and they get work based on the reputation of representing their client well, because that will carry through into representing their client well on other cases. I have much more time and respect for someone who fights hard than for someone who is a pushover]

(c) Ultra-cautious

Local Authorities recommend solicitors to people – who are they going to recommend? The ones who make social workers life difficult or the ones who ‘play ball’? [This a frequent assertion – most Local Authorities will NOT recommend individual solicitors for that reason, instead providing a list of those in the area who do this type of work for the parent to choose from freely]

Sometimes Local Authorities pay solicitors privately, to represent grandmothers or aunts who are making an application in care proceedings – again, who do they choose for that – the trouble-causers or those who play ball? And the solicitors know if they want to get this work, to play ball? When one of those solicitors is representing a parent in a different case, do they have one eye on the work that the Local Authority will send them in the future? Because the parent can only send them one case, but the Local Authority can send them lots and lots. [That should again, be the reason for NOT recommending or picking an individual solicitor but instead to provide the grandmother or aunt with a complete list to make their own choice]

Guardians get to choose which solicitor to instruct. Some solicitors represent parents sometimes, and Guardians sometimes. Is the Guardian going to instruct someone who gave them a hard time on another case? Or would they instruct someone who got their client to agree with what the Guardian was saying? Again, the parent can only send them one case but the Guardian can send them lots. [This is probably a bigger conflict than the two above, since it can’t be sidestepped by the same methods. It does rely on the professionalism of the Guardian to recognise that the solicitor is doing their job and doing it well by challenging the evidence, and the solicitor to fearlessly represent their client without favour. ]
What about a social worker giving evidence who everyone knows has given notice and is about to join CAFCASS, and become a source of new work and new cases? Is there a temptation to go a bit easy on them, so that you don’t ruin your chances of getting that new work?


Job security
(a) Direct
The more cases a solicitor takes on, the more chance they have of hitting their cost target and staying in employment next year. Does that possibly lead to solicitors ‘spreading themselves too thin’ ?

The advice that they give to clients and the job they do for clients has an incentive if anything, to do a good job. By doing a good job, and making the client feel that they fought on their behalf, they will get other recommendations and other work, making their job more secure.

(b) Indirect

Solicitors are being made redundant, firms are closing. A solicitor who regularly goes over the average time for a case but doesn’t hit the ceiling limit to get paid for their actual work will lose money. Do fears about job security lead to solicitors focussing on those cases that are already past that ‘ceiling’, and spending less time on the cases that are just over the ‘floor’ but not yet at the ‘ceiling’



(c) Ultra-cautious

We can see by the above discussion that a solicitor needs a certain volume of care proceedings to keep going. Even with the number of proceedings having gone up 40% post 2008 firms are closing and staff are being laid off. Where is the incentive to speak up about ‘unnecessary proceedings’? To have those cases on weak evidence thrown out of Court? Solicitors do benefit financially from an artificially inflated ‘demand’ for care proceedings and would be cutting their own throats if they tried to put a stop to it. If parents’ solicitors won all their cases, their local councils would stop issuing care proceedings and the solicitors would go bust, is where you take that to the nth degree.

For Counsel, job security and income are more inextricably linked than for other professionals. Counsel aren’t employed and don’t earn a salary. They get paid for the work they do. The more they work, the more they earn. And in general, the better they are at their job/the better their reputation, the more they will work and the more they will earn. They won’t get sacked or laid off, but if they don’t earn enough to cover their cost of living, there won’t be job security for them. So I have focussed just on income.

It is, of course, the duty of counsel to represent their client, and to ‘promote and protect fearlessly and by all proper and lawful means the lay client’s best interests and do so without regard to his own interests or to any consequences to himself or to any other person’

As a result, there should NEVER be any financial incentive or consideration that would make counsel do anything other than act in the client’s best interests at all times.

(a) Direct
As outlined above, the more work you do, the more money you earn. So it is in the interest of any counsel to have their client be satisfied with the representation – if the client doesn’t like their counsel, they could ask for the solicitor to change them for the next hearing and counsel would lose that future work. Also, if the client reports back to the solicitor that they weren’t happy, the solicitor might not be so keen to use them next time. So if there is a financial incentive, the direct one ought to be to do what is already the duty – to promote and protect fearlessly the client’s interests without any thought of anything else.
(b) Indirect / Ultra-Cautious (I group them together for this, because for people INSIDE the profession, these concerns are easily dismissed, but for those OUTSIDE they are not taken so lightly)

It touches upon the points already raised about solicitors, but it probably happens even more for counsel. Counsel can be in court cross-examining Mister Pink the social worker in March, and representing Mister Pink in April. Representing Miss Blond the Guardian on a Monday, representing a mother who hates Miss Blond on a Wednesday.

{The incorrect spelling there is intentional}

As we can see from the duty of counsel, that MUST have no impact upon them at all. In the first example, counsel must rigorously test the evidence of Mister Pink in March and then represent Mister Pink to the best of their abilities in April. In the second, they must represent Miss Blond the best they can on Monday, and be ready to give Miss Blond a tough time on the Wednesday if that is what is in the mother’s interests. They MUST absolutely not be thinking about the impact that grilling Miss Blond in one case might have on any other, or on whether Miss Blond will ask for different representation.

That’s the duty, but even counsel are human beings, and have all of the quirks, foibles and flaws of human beings. I can’t really stress strongly enough though that if counsel was ever making decisions on Case A as a result of considerations about what impact it might have on Case B, they would be in breach of their duty and this should never happen.

[Isn’t it terrible that I have no qualms about throwing my own profession of Local Authority lawyers to the lions, but hem and haw about counsel? If you are counsel, that part of the code of practice ought to run through you to your very core, like the letters on a stick of Blackpool rock, and that is so intrinsic to the job that it is hard to countenance it not being followed]
The indirect diary conflict – your client wants a day in Court to fight about something, everyone else wants to work out an agreement and sort it out. The day in Court that’s available for the fight would clash with another piece of work that you don’t want to turn away – what should you do? Again, the duty to protect and promote fearlessly the client’s best interests will always prevail over counsel’s narrow self-interests.

I am sure that for some parents, the idea that their counsel could be representing Mister Pink or Miss Blond in other cases and being supportive and kind and fighting for them doesn’t feel right.

And probably the reassurance that all counsel have a code of honour that means the fact that Mister Pink and Miss Blond indirectly put money in their pocket in other cases and might do so long after the parents case is finished won’t affect the way they do the parents case, doesn’t really count for much.

It might be more a problem of perception than a problem of reality, but we go back to dear old Sussex Magistrates “Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done”

For a parent worried about this, is the “trust me, Scout’s Honour” arrangement sufficient protection to make them feel comfortable?

What could be done? Well, it probably is not unreasonable for a parent to ask whether their particular counsel has often represented Mister Pink or Miss Blond, or whether there are any cases coming up where they will soon be doing that. If the parent really feels unhappy about that, they can choose someone else to represent them. It is important that they have full confidence in their representative.




I certainly do think that when I began doing care proceedings in 1994, there were experts who were ‘hired guns’ – their reports were tailored to whoever was paying them, and you had experts who people would rightly label ‘pro Local Authority’ or ‘pro parent’

That’s been weeded out over time, not least because invariably these days an expert is only instructed with the agreement of all parties and the costs are usually split. So the expert is not writing a report with the view to pleasing one solicitor who hired them. And because the report is only commissioned if everyone agrees, you don’t tend to get experts who had positioned themselves firmly on one side or the other, but rather people who have a balanced view and look at the facts of the particular case rather than pushing an agenda.

It is better than it was, but is it perfect?

Experts, like counsel, earn from the work they do. If they do a report, they get paid. If they don’t do a report, they don’t get paid. If the report is well-received and people think it was good and it helped, they’ll get recommended in other cases. If it isn’t, they won’t.

It is worth holding in mind the principles I discussed earlier. A parent is a parent in one particular case, and might never come back to Court again; but a Guardian and a Local Authority will be in lots of cases.

Indirectly, can this fact influence the expert? If you have to ruffle the feathers of one party by saying something they don’t like, is it easier to ruffle the feathers of a parent who you might never come across again rather than a Local Authority or Guardian who could block your involvement in future cases?

The tendency for expert reports to be commissioned pre-proceedings might exacerbate this problem – in those situations it is not the level playing field with everyone paying for the expert and everyone choosing, but the Local Authority paying for the expert so they get the final say. With those reports, is there a risk of going back to the bad old days of the expert making recommendations in order to get more instructions and ultimately make more money? And thus writing reports to keep the Local Authority happy?
This concern particularly arises with assessment of mental capacity (probably more a Court of Protection issue per se, but I’ll bring it up anyway). In those cases, is there a tendency for the Local Authority to seek a capacity assessment from someone who will give them the answer they want? Is the protection that everyone needs that the expert report will be fair and unbiased particularly absent from a group of individuals who might need that protection the most? A declaration of incapacity can have such a huge impact on a person’s life and takes their ability to make their own decisions and fight their own case away from them. [I’m not saying here that capacity assessments ARE bent, but that there’s a risk here of undue influence, even unconscious influence that we have to be watchful of]
The Courts




(a) Direct  – Judges get paid a salary. They don’t receive performance related pay or bonuses. They do not directly benefit from the outcome of any case, and the system is designed to ensure that this is not the case. Pay rises are based on a civil service scheme and are not based on performance targets.


(b) Indirect – Judges are measured on their statistics – how quickly cases are dealt with is the chief concern, but statistics are also gathered on outcomes. If one were suspicious that central government had a pro-adoption outcome, one could suspect that a Judge would be considered a ‘better’ Judge if they made more adoption orders. There are promotions that can be made within the judiciary – a District Judge can become a Recorder, a Circuit Judge, a Designated Family Judge, a High Court Judge, a Court of Appeal Judge, a law Lord.  It is probable that when applying for a promotion, there is some consideration of how the Judge has performed.


(c) Ultra-Cautious  – a Judge therefore going for a promotion would directly financially benefit if they got it, and that MIGHT affect their decision on granting adjournments / outcomes of cases if they thought they were about to be measured against them.  Ultra-ultra cautious is of course the issue of bribes. There has never been a case in England of a Judge being found to take a bribe. For one thing, you just don’t get appointed as a Judge if you are that sort of person. For another, Local Authorities are really mean with their cash and have to account for every penny which makes bribery difficult. For a final thing, a Judge taking a bribe would be at huge risk of prison if caught, and if there’s one place that isn’t somewhere good for a Judge it’s a prison (think about it)


Job Security


(a) Direct – as with some of the other professionals, it is not an easy task to sack a Judge. Certainly to do so based on the outcome of individual cases or even a group of cases is difficult to conceive of.  It is possible that a Judge who got routinely appealed and criticised for getting cases wrong would be moved out of that area of work or encouraged to resign. But on any individual case, I do not think that job security has any influence on the decision.


(b) Indirect /Ultra-Cautious – well, as already discussed, the volume of care proceedings has gone up immeasurably. We are in a time of cuts. If the current level of care proceedings includes ‘unnecessary cases’ then if those cases stopped, it is possible that the Government would lay some Judges off. So, one might be sceptical that it is not in a Judge’s interest to be throwing out all of the ‘unnecessary cases’ since then they will stop being brought.


The Government


This is the difficult bit with the financial conspiracy theory. At the end of it all, if there’s an increase in the number of care proceedings and adoptions, that costs the Government more money. Each case costs money – they pay the lawyers, they pay the Courts, they pay a share of the Local Authority’s income so the more cases there are, the more they pay out.


One might argue that the incentive is much more in job security, particularly at ministerial level. Nobody wants to be a Minister in charge of keeping children safe if there is another Baby P, particularly if they can be blamed for it. A Minister might, if very cynical, calculate that the risk of a scandal in child protection costing them their job is much higher if there’s a policy of ‘keep children at home with parents’ and that goes wrong and a child dies than if the policy is ‘child safety as priority’ and some children might be removed unnecessarily.