Newcastle upon Tyne
B e f o r e :
|In the matter of:|
|Re: E (A Child)|
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Suite 104, Kingfisher Business Centre, Burnley Road, Rawtenstall, Lancashire BB4 8ES
Telephone: 0845 604 5642 ľ Fax: 01706 870838
Counsel for the Mother: MISS D ADCOCK
Solicitor for the Guardian: MISS L COWELL
Crown Copyright ©
"By her own account and, indeed, this is supported in the report, there has been a reduction in some of the more worrying aspects of her previous presentation which, in layman's terms, may be described as an amelioration, although there are clearly still areas for concern. On the positive side she has engaged well with all professionals, attended appointments and co-operated with the majority of demands placed upon her. Her physical care of B is adequate. She appears to be very emotionally attached and has responded well to her baby.
On the negative it is clear that she does still have significant difficulties with interpersonal relationships. She has a tendency to have short-lived, volatile relationships with older men. Though not currently in a relationship, this does not mean that this is not a risk for the future. This pattern of relationship development is undoubtedly a reflection of her own extremely dysfunctional childhood and absence of good parenting experiences. She clearly has immense difficulties developing relationships within her own peer group, a tendency to verbal aggression, albeit this in itself may ameliorate over time with attendance at anger management. In addition there is her vulnerability, her tendency to put herself in potentially dangerous situations with older people, her chaotic management of money which in the long term could lead to possible physical neglect, that is to say she has not got enough money to care for herself or her baby."
Of the plan to progress through reducing levels of supported accommodation, DráTyrie said that there would need to be a robust package of monitoring at least until B went to nursery.
"Contrary to my previous opinion, noting her engagement particularly with professionals throughout this pregnancy, it would, in fact, appear that there has been a worrying change. It is clear that [M] is again struggling to engage with professionals and struggling to deal with constructive advice with regard to provision of adequate physical care for B. She responds in a defensive and, indeed, aggressive manner at times and this is in spite of her tearful concerns when I saw her of B being taken into care. It is my view that [M] is emotionally attached to her baby but I would suggest that this is at the level of an attachment to an object of her own, that is something that is hers rather than anyone else's, which is more than can be said of most aspects of her life. Anger management would go some way in helping her address her problems but certainly not all of her mental health problems and I have my doubts about capacity to attend and engage consistently.
As I indicated in July of 2011, long term psychotherapy would be the desirable treatment and this needs to be likely long term, albeit I note that the National Health Service currently tends to restrict treatment to two years only. A positive outcome is not always possible. I am of the opinion that it is highly unlikely that [M] would attend and engage with such therapy over a long term period. It is clear from the records that the package of care implemented with B's arrival was a fairly comprehensive one and that in spite of this and an awareness of the risk of B's removal, [M] has been unable in any way to moderate her behaviour and, therefore, I think that even with a long term, robust package of care and monitoring it must now be acknowledged that there would be a significant risk to the emotional, psychological and physical welfare of B if to be placed in the care of her mother."
She ended by saying that she did not believe that the mother would cause direct, physical harm to a child in her care. Nevertheless, the potential for a child to be caught in the crossfire due to one of her many angry altercations with others existed along with the potential for physical harm as a result of neglect of her physical care.
(1) that the mother experienced a difficult and dysfunctional childhood and exhibited difficult and disruptive behaviour from an early age. She was accommodated as a child due to her behaviour which her own mother was unable to manage, stating she was a risk to her siblings;
(2) she had a diagnosis of unsocialised conduct disorder in childhood and an emotionally unstable personality disorder with mixed features of both borderline and impulsive type in early adulthood. That diagnosis rendered her incapable of caring for A in an appropriate manner, being unable to provide consistent, physical and emotional care;
(3) the emotionally unstable personality disorder in adulthood affects the way in which she sustains interpersonal relationships, copes with normal life stresses and relates to inappropriate manner within society. She is prone to emotional outbursts, impulsivity, a chaotic lifestyle and in terms of her parenting abilities she has major difficulties in providing consistent, secure and emotionally warm parenting and secure boundaries;
(4) those factors have been observed at the recent deterioration in her presentation at Elizabeth House;
(5) B had been exposed to her extremely aggressive outbursts aimed at others, she is unpredictable and thereby unable to maintain a safe and secure environment for her. Further, she is not thereby consistently emotionally available for the child;
(6) on 21st June mother was evicted from Elizabeth House due to her behaviour. That was a recurring pattern. She had been threatened with eviction and on her third warning from St Helena's hostel in 2011 and was requested to leave Praxis in April of last year;
(7) the mother struggled to meet her own basic needs and, finally,
(8) she struggled to meet the basic needs of the child.
"I would never harm her. What you would do is put B in a safe place and out of the way because otherwise she would be affected by it."
She denied the suggestion that she might inadvertently put her at risk of harm. She denied that B had ever been at risk of physical harm, she had not rocked her vigorously, she did not recall an occasion when she was asked to hand her over because of that to a worker and she denied that there had been an incident where B's head had nearly hit a door frame as she stormed out of a room. Essentially she said that everything that has been alleged against her was not true and that the Local Authority had wanted B out of her care from day one.
"A care order in a case such as this is a very extreme thing, a last resort as it would be very likely to result in a child being adopted against the wishes of both her parents.
As already mentioned, it is clear that a judge cannot properly decide that a care order should be made in such circumstances, unless the order is proportionate bearing in mind the requirements of Article 8.
It appears to me that, given that the judge concluded that the section 31(2) threshold was crossed, he should only have made a care order if he had been satisfied that it was necessary to do so in order to protect the interests of the child. By 'necessary', I mean, to use Lady Hale's phrase, 'where nothing else will do.'"
He went on to state that the conclusion was clear not only under the Act but put beyond doubt by Article 8 of the Convention which raises a presumption that a child's best interests are served by being with their parents wherever possible and that adoption can only occur if a child separated from his or her parents against their will when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that separation is necessary for the best interests of the child.
first, what is the timetable within which the child's welfare is to be determined?
second, what are the key issues that need to be determined for the ultimate decision to be made?
third, whether there are jurisdictional facts which, if found, are sufficient to satisfy the threshold?
fourth, what are the key findings of fact in respect of the key issues identified?
The response to those questions must then inform the answers to three questions identified by Lady Hale in the matter of In the matter of J (Children) namely:
first, what is the harm and/or likelihood of harm?
second, to what is the harm or likelihood attributable? and
third, what would be best for the child?
The court is then to conduct an evaluation of the placement options considering what services are available identifying: first, the welfare analysis of the available placement options; second, the best option among those available on a welfare evaluation and what orders are proportionate and necessary.
MissáAdcock reminded me of much of this, of the stringent standard to be met, of the need to take the least interventionist course and to consider the issue of assistance central to this case with a mother who acknowledges the need for it.