Policing parents? Protecting Children? Promoting Adoption? Are we getting the child protection system we deserve? Multi disciplinary conference 1st June 2015

We are excited about this ‘ground-breaking’ conference that will bring together such a range of voices, on such key topics, for children and their families.

It’s attracting a lot of attention, with a wide range of people registered already. They include judges, legal and social work professionals, academics, journalists, care leavers, parents and mckenzie friends. We aim to keep this balance between types of delegate as much as possible.

There are of course risks as well as potential benefits, of starting to try to re-position current polarised debate around the child protection system.

We think it’s worth taking those risks, for children as well as for their families and for professionals.

We’ve had some discussions and here (in the name of transparency) are some key decisions on managing those risks for all attending:

  • We don’t plan to exclude anyone from the conference based on their views; or their actions outside this conference. Even where we may disagree with some of those views or actions.
  • Attendance is in a personal capacity and, of course, doesn’t imply that anyone is speaking on behalf of any organisation they work for or are associated with.
  • We will exclude anyone who doesn’t follow the ground rules of the conference or intend to. This is to protect other participants, enable a wide range of voices without any dominating, and to ensure the conference isn’t disrupted or its aims distorted.
  • We want people to live tweet and write about this conference and we want to publish talks and papers and records of discussion wherever possible. To ensure we can do this it is important that the privacy of individuals is maintained and in particular that the anonymity of children is maintained. This means we can’t allow you to identify yourself or someone else as a parent of a child involved in a family court case; or to name the child involved in a court case; or to discuss the details of what has gone on in court in individual cases (unless the information is contained in a published judgment or a judge has specifically given permission). We ask that anyone wishing to discuss a case, in which they have been involved, should do so with regard to both the feelings of all involved and bearing in mind the law about protecting children involved in court cases. If any participant is unsure what they can discuss, they may ask a member of the organising committee who will attempt to assist. The committee will advise what they as organisers feel able to permit and believe is likely to be within the law, but cannot give legal advice.
  • although the conference aims to share views and experiences of the current system, it is not and cannot be an inquiry into or an appeal from individual cases.


Ground Rules So Far

  1. respect the law regarding the confidentiality of care proceedings (the organizers will interpret this law with caution and their interpretation will be final for the purpose of the conference rules);
  2. allow speakers to speak without interruption;
  3. raise any questions at the end of each session;
  4. allow the chair to decide who should speak and when, and to impose reasonable limits on the length and topic of individual contributions.
  5. participate in any discussions with courtesy and respect for one another’s views; robust criticism is fine but abusive or personal remarks are, of course, not.


Links to information about the law on confidentiality are here

As always, constructive suggestions are welcome as to what we should add to our Ground Rules.

Sarah Phillimore has commented further here in light of the recent judgment in P and Q (Children) [2015].