Statistics show vulnerable children across England are repeatedly forced to move school

Statistics show vulnerable children across England are repeatedly forced to move school

Posted by on Jul 31, 2015 in News

According to the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) which has collected data from 124 local authorities, nearly 1000 children in care have attended three or more schools within a single academic year.

For those in their GCSE year, the data shows that more than 10% of students in the worst five local authority areas would move once or more a term.

As laid out in its January report, Finding Their Feet, the CSJ recommends the wider adoption of ‘scorecards’ to clearly set out outcomes for children in care in each local authority. The indicators laid out in the report include prevalence of early and repeat parenthood; the number able to ‘stay put’ with foster carers after their 18th birthdays, the number going on to apprenticeships and higher education, the number of schools children have been to (particularly in crucial exam years), the number of foster carers they have had, and the number of social workers.

By reporting outcomes in a clear, transparent way, the CSJ argues that councillors in these local authorities can build up an accurate picture about whether care leaders are meeting the needs of these vulnerable, young people.

A disrupted education adds to the series of challenges faced by children in care. Despite representing less than one per cent of young people, care leavers make up one quarter (24 per cent) of the adult prison population, 11 per cent of young homeless people and 70 per cent of sex workers. Those leaving the care system are now twice as likely not to be in education, employment or training (NEET) at the age of 19 than the rest of the population, while more than half of care leavers struggle to secure somewhere safe to live when they leave care.

To see the figures, please visit the Centre for Social Justice press release link.

To read the rest of the article, please visit the Family Law Week’s website.

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MOJ increases fee for issuing divorce proceedings

MOJ increases fee for issuing divorce proceedings

Posted by on Jul 30, 2015 in News

The Government plans to increase the fees for issuing divorce proceedings from £410 to £550. Originally this figure was set to £750, which would have been an 80% increase, however, the MOJ reconsidered and increased instead by about a third which according to them is more ‘affordable’.

There will, however, be a fee remission in cases where the party is vulnerable, such as women in low-income households.

To read the full article and response document, please click on the Family Law Week’s link.

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Resolution is ‘disappointed’ with Ministry of Justice’s legal aid cuts

Resolution is ‘disappointed’ with Ministry of Justice’s legal aid cuts

Posted by on Jul 29, 2015 in News

Resolution has expressed its disappointment at the MOJ for its reaction to the recent report published by the Justice Select Committee which is critical of legal aid cuts.

In the final Equality Impact Assessment accompanying the Bill the MoJ set out that its objectives for the proposed legislation were to (The Objectives of LASPO):

·  discourage unnecessary and adversarial litigation at public expense;

·  target legal aid to those who need it most;

·  make significant savings in the cost of the scheme; and

·  deliver better overall value for money for the taxpayer.

 

To read the full report, please click on the Parliament Publications link.

 

Resolution has tried to raise awareness of the effects of legal aid cuts on those that use the family justice system, such as an increased number of litigants in person and domestic abuse victims not being able to obtain legal support.

For the full resolution quote, please click on the Family Law Week’s link.

 

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Local Authorities in England are “turning their backs” on young people leaving their care

Local Authorities in England are “turning their backs” on young people leaving their care

Posted by on Jul 21, 2015 in News

According to the Chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee only 8 out of 151 local councils know where all their care leavers live despite the fact that they have an obligation to stay in contact with them and despite Ofsted already rating two-thirds of care leavers’ services as inadequate or in need of improvement in November 2013.

According to The National Audit Office report: Care Leavers’ Transition to Adulthood, the number of young people that are leaving care has almost doubled in a decade (from 6,900 in 2003/04 to 10,310). Approximately 62% of children are in care because of neglect or abuse which can have serious and lasting effects on their mental and emotional health, however, due to high staff turnover, heavy workloads and an increasingly stretched budget, care leavers are not getting the support that they need.

The report also finds local authorities have no information on 17% of their 19- to 21-year-old care leavers, even though they are often vulnerable.

Care leavers often face difficulties in accessing their own health records, identification documents and personal history, it adds.

It also highlights that there are no official statistics on some aspects of care leavers’ lives, such as whether they have timely access to health services and whether they feel they left care at the right time.

To read the rest of the article, education section on BBC’s website.

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Closure of 91 courts in England and Wales announced

Closure of 91 courts in England and Wales announced

Posted by on Jul 20, 2015 in News

In a written ministerial statement Shailesh Vara has announced the consultation on the closure of 91 courts and tribunals in England and Wales. This follows on from the announcement made by the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Justice the 23rd June 2015 that there needed to be reform of courts and tribunals in order to have a quicker and fairer access to justice.

Progress has already been made on this front by modernising the service provided. This includes installing Wi-Fi and digital screens in court buildings and implementing a digital case management system for the administration of criminal cases.

This is encouraging progress, but more needs to be done. There is a broad consensus that the current system is unsustainable and that we have an opportunity to create a modern, more user-focused and efficient service. Increased use of technology such as video, telephone and online conferencing will help drive these improvements.

However, in addition to these changes courts and tribunals must be closed in order to reduce the cost of the estate and to reinvest the savings. At present Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service operates 460 courts and tribunals across England and Wales which costs the taxpayers approximately half a billion pounds each year despite the fact that last year, over a third of all courts were empty for more than fifty per cent of hearing time.

For the entire article, visit Family Law’s website.

For the consultation, visit the Digital Communication on Justice’s website.

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100% of the assets received in family matter

100% of the assets received in family matter

Posted by on Jul 15, 2015 in News

This shows the discretion the Courts have in dealing with case.

The Court of Appeal’s decision to order a hospital consultant to hand over 100% of his fortune to his former wife has been described by family lawyers as exceptional but fair given the circumstances.

Essam Aly, an anaesthetist who left his wife Enas Aly in 2011 and moved to Bahrain, has failed to pay any child support since 2012.

The Court of Appeal’s decision to order a hospital consultant to hand over 100% of his fortune to his former wife has been described by family lawyers as exceptional but fair given the circumstances.

Essam Aly, an anaesthetist who left his wife Enas Aly in 2011 and moved to Bahrain, has failed to pay any child support since 2012.

After it was feared that he would never again support his ex-wife and two children, family court judge Mark Rogers made a ruling that the entire £550,000 family assets should go to his ex-wife. The Court of Appeal upheld the award.

Emma Hatley, a partner at Stewarts Law, said the case serves as a ‘stark reminder’ that the distribution of wealth on divorce in England remains a highly discretionary area.

She said: ‘A departure from equality, to the extent of awarding all of the available resources to the wife, is an exceptional outcome, but it is a fair one where the husband was found to have effectively ‘abdicated responsibility’ for her and his children’.

Read full article in Law Gazette website.

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Divorce and cohabitation trends over the last twelve years

Divorce and cohabitation trends over the last twelve years

Posted by on Jul 14, 2015 in News

Interesting figures released by the office of national statistics show the divorce and cohabitation trends over the last twelve years.

  • In 2014, 51.5% of people aged 16 and over in England and Wales were married or civil partnered while 33.9% were single, never married.
  • Between 2002 and 2014 the proportions of people aged 16 and over who were single or divorced increased but the proportions who were married or widowed decreased.
  • The increase between 2002 and 2014 in the percentage of the population who were divorced was driven by those aged 45 and over, with the largest percentages divorced at ages 50 to 64 in 2014.
  • In 2014 around 1 in 8 adults in England and Wales were living in a couple but not currently married or civil partnered; cohabiting is most common in the 30 to 34 age group.
  • More women (18.9%) than men (9.8%) were not living in a couple having been previously married or civil partnered; this is due to larger numbers of older widowed women than men in England and Wales in 2014.

 

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The Law Society issues practice note to help lawyers with vulnerable clients

The Law Society issues practice note to help lawyers with vulnerable clients

Posted by on Jul 9, 2015 in News

The Law Society has issued a practice note in order to aid law firms meet the needs of vulnerable clients.

The guidance aims to help law firms identify vulnerable clients, communicate with them more effectively and therefore help them achieve the best possible legal outcome for their situation.

Vulnerability indicators

Risk factors may be short or long-term, and can fluctuate over time depending on the circumstances. The following are offered as examples of risk factors and are not an exhaustive list:

  • advanced age, children and young people
  • physical disabilities or ill-health
  • cognitive impairment
  • loss of mental capacity to make relevant decisions
  • mental health problems
  • learning disabilities
  • sensory impairment
  • dementia
  • acquired brain injury caused for example by a stroke or head injury
  • severe facial or other disfigurement
  • difficulty in accessing and/or understanding complex information, for example, because of psychological or emotional factors such as stress or bereavement
  • communication difficulties, including no or limited speech, English as a foreign language, limited ability to read or write and illiteracy
  • experience of domestic violence or sexual abuse
  • heavy reliance on others (family or friends) for necessary care, support or accommodation
  • long-term alcohol or drug abuse
  • exposure to financial abuse

Some people may be affected by more than one risk factor – for example, many people with a learning disability have hearing and/or visual problems that can affect their communication and understanding.

Any one or more of these risk factors may mean that your client is vulnerable and may require your assistance to express their wishes, understand relevant advice and provide you with instructions, or that they may lack capacity to make relevant decisions and to give your instructions.

 

In order to find out what the Law Society deems “vulnerable”, please visit Family Law Week website and read the full article.

 

To read the full practice note please visit the Law Society advice section on “Meeting the needs of vulnerable clients“.

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Children’s Charities release report which states that Government policies do not prioritise children

Children’s Charities release report which states that Government policies do not prioritise children

Posted by on Jul 8, 2015 in News

According to various children’s charities, Government policies and spending decisions do not prioritise children which is potentially in breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

 

For the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), current Government policy means that spending on services pertaining to children and families has decreased to 2006 levels despite increasing need, millions of children continue to live in poverty, and they are no longer entitled to legal advice or representation costs which limits their access to justice.

The report also states that reports of sex abuse has risen by 60% whereas arrests have fallen by 9%.

 

To read the full report, visit Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) website.

 

To read the full article, please visit Family Law Week website.

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Record Number of prosecutions for violence against women

Record Number of prosecutions for violence against women

Posted by on Jul 1, 2015 in News

According to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) there has been an 18% increase compared to last year in prosecutions for violence against women and young girls, which amounts to more than 107,000 cases including rape, domestic violence and “honour” crimes.

Whilst it seems that the increase of prosecutions and convictions is due notably to victims having more confidence to come forward, it is also suggested that there is an increase due to the “growing use of the internet” which acts as a crime enabler.

Perhaps the only advantage to be taken from this new form of crime is that it leaves digital footprints which can be utilised by the police as evidence.

For more statistics on these issues and to read the full article on BBC’s website.

If you are affected by domestic violence please contact RISE, a local charity which supports victims of abuse. If you wish to speak to one of our solicitors, please contact us by phone or by email.

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