IN THE COUNTY COURT AT CHELMSFORD Ref. U02042014-102637
SITTING AT THE MAGISTRATES’ COURT
Wednesday, 2nd April 2014
HER HONOUR JUDGE PURKISS
ESSEX COUNTY COUNCIL
- v -
SH, SP and “LJH”
MR BAILEY appeared on behalf of Essex County Council
MISS BURGESS appeared on behalf of the respondent SP
The respondent SH was not represented
MRS BAILEY appeared on behalf of LJH
JUDGMENT (AS APPROVED)
Transcribed from the
official digital recording by
MARGARET WORT & CO
(Official Court Reporters)
Edial Farm Cottage, Edial, Burntwood, Staffordshire, WS7 0HZ
* This transcript has been prepared without the aid of documentation *
Wednesday, 2nd April 2014
JUDGMENT (AS APPROVED)
JUDGE PURKISS: This is the final hearing of an application for a care and placement order in relation to “L”, born on 5th December 2013. L’s mother is “SP”; L’s father is “SH”. Both of L’s parents have parental responsibility for him.
On 5th June 2013, I made care and placement orders in relation to L’s older sibling, AP-H, and the brief judgment that I gave in relation to that application is set out at G41 of the bundle before me for this hearing.
In that case, the parents accepted that they were unable to look after A. The mother had sought a late adjournment of the case in order to allow for assessment of a number of relations.
The concerns about the parents’ care of A are reflected in a lengthy threshold document. This threshold document was agreed by the parents and was the basis of findings of fact in relation to threshold in the proceedings concerning A. In brief, the headline issues were:
(i) the risk to A arising from the parents’ abusive and volatile relationship - both parents have convictions for violence against each other;
(ii) the risk of physical and emotional harm as a result of the parents’ lack of appropriate sexual boundaries - the parents had disclosed that Mr H masturbated in front of a child;
(iii) the inability of the parents to protect A from sexual harm, in that a family member who had abused Miss P was allowed to stay in the family home;
(iv) the mother’s mental health issues;
(v) the mother’s learning difficulties and their resultant impact on her ability to provide adequate parenting.
It will be seen from that summary that there were a range of serious issues arising not only from the mother’s innate difficulties and the impact of those on her individual parenting, but also from the sexual risk from Mr H and mother’s inability to protect a child in her care from that harm.
In this case, the local authority seeks, as I have said, care and placement orders. Those applications are supported by Eloise Dove, L’s guardian. The parties have been represented in these proceedings, save for Mr H, who has been served with notice of both applications but declined to play any part in the court process. Mr Bailey of counsel has represented the local authority, Miss Burgess of counsel has represented the mother and Mrs Bailey has represented L. I am grateful to all of the parties’ representatives in this case. As I said, the father, despite service of the applications, has not played any part in these proceedings. In addition, he has only attended two contacts with L and the first statement of the social worker records that, within those contacts, it was observed that he found it hard to maintain a consistent and calm mood in L’s presence.
The mother has participated intermittently and on an inconsistent basis with her legal team and with social care in relation to L. The last contact that her legal team had with her prior to her attendance at court for the start of this hearing was on the afternoon of 14th March. On that occasion she provided instructions for a statement, indicating that she opposed threshold and opposed the local authority applications. Her case was that she had separated from Mr H and wished to be assessed on that basis.
She then failed to engage with her solicitors and attend at their offices in order to sign her statement. She did not respond to messages left for her and, despite being served with notice of the placement application on 22nd March by the social worker who attended at her address and despite having indicated to the social worker that she would attend court for the final hearing, it was 11.30 this morning before the matter was called on. She had not arrived.
I adjourned the matter in order to allow the mother’s counsel to make an attempt to contact the mother on a landline telephone number, which the local authority provided in order to make contact with the mother. Miss Burgess managed to speak to the mother and the mother then indicated that she wanted to come to court. She explained that she had been unwell and been to her GP, who advised her that she had a virus and should not go out. As I needed time to complete my reading anyway, the mother did have time to get to court and, when she arrived, she instructed her counsel that she wished to oppose the making of care and placement orders.
In January of this year, the mother had applied for permission to instruct a psychologist to undertake an assessment of her alone as a prospective carer for L and the basis of that application was said to be that the mother had separated from Mr H and wished to put herself forward to care for L alone. That application was refused. Having perused the documents filed by the parties in advance of that hearing, and having been told what the submissions were of the parties at that hearing, it would appear that the application was refused on the basis that the mother and Mr H may have reunited.
A court cannot make a care order unless the circumstances at the relevant date are as set out in Section 31 of the Children Act:
“The child concerned is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm
attributable to the care given to the child or likely to be given to him if the
order were not made not being what it would be reasonable to expect a
parent to give to him.”
If the threshold for the making of an order is established, the court must then consider the local authority plans for the child, keeping the child’s welfare as the court’s paramount consideration. The court must take into account all of the relevant circumstances of the case, but in particular the matters to which it is directed in Section 1(3) of the Children Act and the court must remember that any delay in determining the welfare decision is likely to prejudice the child’s welfare. I remind myself I should not make an order unless I consider it would be better to do so than not.
The local authority applies for orders, the effect of which contemplates a permanent separation of L from his birth family. Article 8 and Article 6 of the ECHR are engaged in relation to this application.
Following the recent decisions in the cases of Re B (a child) 
UKSC 33, Re G (a child)  EWCA Civ 965, Re P (a child)  EWCA
Civ 963, K v London Borough of Brent  EWCA Civ 926,
B-S (Children)  EWCA 1146 and W (a child) v Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council  EWCA Civ 1125, I must consider whether or not the permanent removal of L from his birth family is proportionate to the risk of harm to him in his family’s care or the risks associated with removal. In evaluating which set of arrangements for L’s future are to be endorsed, his welfare is paramount and the court must not approach the task of deciding whether or not to approve a care plan in a linear way but must undertake a global holistic evaluation of each of the options available for the child’s future before deciding which of those options best meets the duty to afford paramount consideration to the child’s welfare.
I remind myself that an order severing the ties between a child and his parents can only be made where it is justified by the overriding requirement pertaining to the child’s interests. Adoption is, in the words of Lord Neuberger in Re B (a child)  UKSC 33, a very extreme thing, a last resort. In short, the court must be satisfied that nothing else will do.
In considering the local authority’s application for a placement order in respect of L, again I must have L’s welfare as my paramount consideration and must bear in mind that any delay is likely to prejudice his welfare. I must have particular regard to the matters set out in Section 1(4) of the Adoption and Children Act. A court cannot make a placement order unless the circumstances are as set out in sections 21(2) and 21(3) of the Adoption and Children Act. Section 21(3) requires the court to examine whether or not parental consent has been given and, if not, to consider whether or not to dispense with that consent, as set out in
Section 52 of the Act. In this case, the parents do not and will not consent and, in deciding whether or not to dispense with their consent, I must be satisfied that adoption is in L’s interests and that his welfare requires the court to dispense with his parents’ consent.
In considering whether or not to make a placement order, I bear in mind that a placement order is not something which follows automatically from the making of a care order, even where the care plan is for adoption. I should only make such an order where I am satisfied that all avenues to rehabilitation have reasonably been explored and that the child is ready to be adopted. The standard of proof in relation to any disputed facts is the civil standard of proof, the balance of probabilities and the burden of proof rests with the local authority. It is not reversible and it is not for the respondents to establish that allegations are not made out. Findings of fact must be based on evidence and not on speculation.
In this case, I have read the bundle of documents which has been placed before me in advance of this hearing and in addition a small placement bundle in relation to L. I have read all of the documents in both of those bundles and I have also heard oral evidence from the allocated social worker, Elizabeth Davies, from the mother, SP and also from the child’s guardian Eloise Dove.
The evidence has focused, unsurprisingly given the historic findings, on the extent to which there has been any meaningful change in the mother’s circumstances since the conclusion of the proceedings in relation to A, as she asserts that she has separated from Mr H and wishes to be considered as a sole carer for L.
The assessments within the previous proceedings are however, in my judgment, relevant to the issues before the court because they assist in relation to the mother’s capabilities as a sole carer.
Within the previous proceedings, there was an assessment of the mother by Astrid Pollard, psychologist. Her opinion, accepted by the court, was that the mother had a mild learning disability. She was unable to accept support from professionals and had a lack of understanding of the emotional impact of events, such as a child witnessing sexual activity or a parent failing to attend contact. Astrid Pollard identified that mother denied needing assistance in relation to her parenting. She expressed the opinion that it was unlikely that change could be effected in the foreseeable future. She diagnosed high levels of depression, which required treatment, and she concluded that the mother would be unable to prioritise her relationship with her children for any extended length of time. In addition, because of mother’s difficulties, she would struggle to plan and undertake routine tasks but, were she willing to accept help, she could be assisted to do that. Finally she thought that it would be very difficult for the mother to offer a good enough standard of emotional care to her own child as a result of her own childhood experiences.
There was also an assessment of parenting undertaken by the Woodlands
Family Centre. Again, that evidence was before the court and was unchallenged in the proceedings in relation to A. The concluding analysis of that assessment notes that the mother had been inconsistent in the care she provided A, sometimes refusing to take on board advice and behaving in a very immature fashion.
Importantly, in my judgment, it was also observed that when the mother’s emotional needs were triggered, she failed to focus on A and became very confused with routines. She struggled to understand the impact of domestic violence and, even though Mr H had been observed to be regularly angry, she was found to be heavily reliant upon him. She was identified as being very vulnerable. She was reluctant to change and she did not think she needed to change her parenting and, to conclude, Woodlands found that she lacked confidence to care for her child independently and continued to be reliant on Mr H for support.
Mr H was observed to have shown an ability to meet A’s basic care needs, but it was also observed that this was inconsistent and dependent on his emotional wellbeing and, sadly, the conclusion therefore was that it was unlikely that either Miss P alone or together with Mr H could offer safe and consistent care to A.
Those assessments are somewhat out of date but they were accepted by the court in the middle of last year and, in my judgment, they contain highly relevant information in terms of the mother’s functioning, Mr H’s functioning and their individual capabilities as prospective carers for L.
The mother gave evidence before me and told me that she really wanted a chance to be able to care for L by herself. To that end, she told me that she had been staying with a friend of hers over the last few weeks and that the only reason she had been found at the flat that she used to share with Mr H was because she had returned there in order to collect some more of her belongings. She told me that Mr H remained in her accommodation because she had asked him to move out on a number of occasions but he had refused. She was adamant that they were not a couple. She told me that she continues to suffer from depression and she takes antidepressants.
She complained about domestic violence at the hands of Mr H. Her application for a further assessment indicates that she has separated from him and wishes to be considered as L’s sole carer. In that application, she accepted that
Mr H resided in her property but the application, dated 14/03/2013, says the respondent mother is residing with her mother and has been so since she gave birth to L. The respondent has only returned to the property to let workmen in (fitting a new kitchen) whilst Mr H was at work.
In her statement dated 17th January she says that Mr H was “domineering and controlling”. She says: “I fully accept I have a background of anger management issues but I am doing what I can to address this and am on a waiting list for anger management classes. I have attended regular appointments with my GP and been prescribed antidepressant medication. My mother has registered me for therapy. My anger issues have been because I have been a victim of domestic violence at the hands of Mr H and I came to a decision to end that abusive relationship, which has ended in December 2013. I am now going to attend a domestic violence freedom project.” And she then goes on to conclude: “I truly regret my relationship with Mr H and I really have separated from him for good this time. Losing A has made me realise what I need to do to become a better parent for my children.”
Elizabeth Davies has been the allocated social worker for L since January. The last contact that the mother had with L was on 23rd January of this year. She had been taken to contacts by her own mother but, after her mother stopped taking her, Miss P stopped attending. Since then, she has not attended contact at all.
The social worker has spoken to the mother on many occasions and she has been told by the mother that she has separated from Mr H and on other occasions that they intended to remain together. In her first statement, she says this: “Miss P on numerous occasions has asserted that she is leaving Mr H but to date they are still very much a couple. They live together and share the same bedroom. The flat they share is only a one bedroom flat. During my visits throughout the months of January and February, Mr H and Ms P were still living together as a couple. The fact is that Miss P cannot operate independently of Mr H. Miss P informed me that she cannot look after L without the support of Mr H” and she describes Miss P as saying to her: “After all, he is the father.”
The social worker thought that this pattern of separation and reconciliation between the parents was similar to their behaviour in the proceedings concerning A.
The social worker filed a further statement, setting out the recent enquiries
she had made shortly before the final hearing and she referred to a conversation she had with HP, the maternal grandmother, on 21st March. She had visited HP in order to speak to her but also with a view to making contact with SP. HP told her: “That she had not seen SP for a couple of days. However they both” – and that is HP and her partner DL - “confirmed that SP was still living with SH. Mrs P said: “S will never leave S although she knows he is no good for her but she will not leave him.”
On 22nd March, Elizabeth Davies had visited the mother’s flat in order to serve the mother and SH with the placement papers. She said this: “I telephoned SP on her landline, for which she was most annoyed, demanding to know how I obtained the number. SP stated she does not wish to speak to me because, in her words, I took all three of her children. She stated because Social Services wants her to separate from the father of her children. With that, SP spoke to me and said they would not ever be separating.”
She goes on to say: “I put the documents through the letter box and left. Hearing Mr H’s voice from the flat as he swore has led me to conclude that they are still living together and they have both asserted that they are never going to separate. It would appear therefore that SP says one thing and behaves entirely differently.”
The social worker was cross-examined when she gave oral evidence about the assertion she made in her oral evidence that the mother had also said on this occasion that she would not separate from Mr H. That is not recorded directly in
the extract that I have set out from her recent statement.
It is right that it is not recorded but I do not accept, having heard the oral evidence of the social worker, that the social worker was wrong in her evidence on this point because the second paragraph does include the social worker’s evidence that the parents have both asserted that they are never going to separate. However, even if I am wrong about that and this sentence did not relate to the conversation that the social worker had with the mother on that particular day, I accept the social worker’s evidence that the mother has said to her on occasions that she will not separate from Mr H and I do not think therefore, even if the social worker was confused about the specific conversation which took place on the 22nd, that the criticism that is made in more general terms of her evidence on this point can be sustained.
The fact is that, in this case, there appear to have been numerous separations and reconciliations and the social worker may simply have become confused about what the mother said. The statement, although the grammar is a little odd, does make it clear that one of the reasons why the mother did not want to speak to the social worker on the 22nd was because the social worker wanted her to separate from Mr H and it seems to me therefore that, even if mother did not say directly that she was refusing to separate from Mr H on this occasion, it may well have been implied.
The social worker had further contact from SP on Monday, 24th March, when the mother called her to tell her that: “SH had been lying to social services. SH visits his mother at least two times a week and he sees A” – that is the parents’ oldest child – “when he is not allowed to see A. She stated that he then comes home as late as 12.30 and wants a cup of tea and food. During this conversation the mother confirmed to the social worker that she had received the court documents left for her on the 22nd.”
The social worker relies on this conversation and the conversation that took place on the 22nd to support her assertion that, despite the mother’s statement that she has left SH, she has in fact done nothing of the sort and they continue to cohabit in SP’s flat, otherwise the mother would not have made the observation that Mr H comes home as late as 12.30 and wants a cup of tea and food. That appears to me to be compelling evidence which does support the social worker’s case.
In the most recent statement, the social worker says that she visited the home of the grandmother, who said she had not seen the mother for a couple of days. Both she and her partner had confirmed to the social worker that they were still together.
The guardian, in her three reports to the court, highlights the similarity between the actions of the parents in these proceedings and their repeated separations and reconciliations in the proceedings concerning A. In addition, she points to the fact that the parents frequently requested contact and then failed to attend. She observed in her report dated 9th March that the parents continued to live together and that her enquiries indicated they remained in a relationship with each other. She had visited HP on 29th January for a pre-arranged visit with the mother and she was told by HP that the mother was not there and in fact, contrary to her assertion in her application for further assessment that she had been staying at the grandmother’s since L’s birth, the grandmother told the guardian that she had never stayed there overnight. Grandmother and step-maternal grandfather told the guardian that, after a period of lying about their relationship, they had been told by the mother and father that they were no longer considering separating, as they had addressed the difficulties between them.
I have considered all of this evidence about the relationship between Mr H and SP and I have come to the clear conclusion that they have remained living together as a couple throughout these proceedings. The mother has not been able or willing to sustain any sort of meaningful separation from Mr H. Despite the mother’s assertion that she has separated from him, I believe the social worker’s evidence that the parents confirmed to her that they continued to be in a relationship in January of this year. I also believed the guardian’s evidence, that the grandparents confirmed to her that the mother and Mr H continued to reside together as a couple and in a relationship and the social worker’s evidence about what the grandparents said to her.
Although I have heard no evidence from the grandmother or her partner, I cannot imagine that this is a subject about which they have any interest in deceiving the social worker or the guardian. The information they provided was in the context of offering an explanation as to why the mother was not at the grandmother’s address as the social worker and guardian had expected her to be. The mother does not deny that she was not at her mother’s address. She has offered a different explanation. She has asserted that the reason she did not attend contact was because she was required to wait at her flat for builders and that she has been at her flat in relation to her requirement, the necessity for her to be at her flat for that reason.
The reality is that what can clearly be observed in the history of these proceedings is a pattern of inconsistency in relation to the mother’s position as to what should happen in relation to Mr H. She has fluctuated between moving between wanting L back with her and Mr H, wanting to live with her parents and wanting to look after him separately and saying that she has separated from him.
Having had an opportunity to observe mother in the witness box and her sometimes emotional response to some of the questions, she impressed me as a relatively unsophisticated and vulnerable witness. I have no doubt that she loves her son and wants the best for him, but her responses indicated, at best, a very basic understanding of professional concerns and, in my judgment, a real lack of insight into the deficiencies in her parenting and to the risks that there would be to a child in either her care or in the care of her and Mr H. She continues to maintain that she has separated from Mr H but I simply did not believe her and, as the hearing progressed, I formed the view that she was saying what she thought she needed to say in order to strengthen her case.
It is submitted on behalf of the mother that it is difficult for women who have been the victim of domestic violence to separate from their partners and that it is unsurprising that someone as vulnerable as SP, with her profile of difficulties, should have been unable to be assertive and demand Mr H leaves her flat and the social worker is criticised for not assisting the mother in relation to achieving this outcome.
I have no difficulty accepting the general proposition that it is difficult for women who have been the victims of domestic violence to extricate themselves from violent relationships and I can see that, for someone like SP, it would be even more difficult to do so, but this is a situation which is far more complex than that straightforward analysis. SP is not only a victim of domestic violence at the hands of Mr H, she has also perpetrated domestic violence against Mr H. In 2012, she was convicted of an offence of battery against him. The psychological assessment of Mr H within A’s proceedings identified his cognitive abilities were in the borderline range and that he presented as being naïve, lacking in reflection, in such a way as to impede his ability to listen and act on advice and he is also identified as probably suffering from periods of anxiety. I note in this regard that, when the social worker visited the mother’s flat on 22nd March, Mr H had said to her that he was unable to open the door because SP would not let him.
The reality is that, in this situation, the relationship between the parents is one of mutual dependence in the context of their both having significant cognitive and personality difficulties which impact upon their parenting. Both have anger management issues, which mean it would be unsafe for a child to be in their care as individuals or together. In addition, there is a concern about the sexual risk posed
by Mr H.
The guardian is concerned that, in the very few contacts which have taken place, the mother has struggled to meet with L’s need for adequate basic parenting. In addition, she has not demonstrated sufficient commitment to L by attending, the last contact she attended being in January 2014. Mr H has not really demonstrated any commitment whatsoever to L, having failed to participate in the proceedings and failed to attend contact more than twice during his short life.
The mother’s explanation for her failure to maintain contact is that she had been told she was required to wait in her property to allow builders access to her council flat. I think this evidence is significant, firstly because it confirms the evidence of the other witnesses, that in fact the mother remains in the flat with
Mr H, and secondly, in my judgment, it is simply not credible that an adult who has been unable to attend contact over a period of 2 months to a very young baby fails to attend that contact as a result of having to wait in for builders. I do not believe her. I think this is a lie she has fabricated in order to excuse her lack of commitment to L.
I am reinforced in my view that this is the correct analysis by the social worker’s evidence that the mother had asked for contacts to take place the day before the final hearing and L was made available for that contact by the local authority. Even then, so close to the final hearing and after the mother told me that she was staying with her friend C, the mother failed to attend that contact.
Another example of the mother’s failure to engage or show sufficient
commitment to L is that she failed to engage with her solicitor in the run up to this hearing. The only reason she appeared at the hearing was because I stood the matter back in order to allow her counsel to contact her on a telephone number. Mother did come to court in response to that call but I am quite satisfied she was aware of the hearing in advance of today as a result of having received the papers from Elizabeth Davies on the 22nd. Even having received those papers, she took no steps to provide instructions to her solicitor, nor to attend court to participate in the hearing until contact was made with her. At the hearing she explained she had not seen her solicitor because she had been diagnosed with an illness by her GP and advised to stay indoors but I note that, having been contacted by her counsel, she then decided she did want to come to court.
I do not accept that having a virus means she was unable to provide her solicitor with instructions for the hearing. In any event, even if this were a valid reason for her failing to engage, I accept the social worker’s evidence that she had made arrangements with her to have contact with L the day before the hearing and she failed to attend that contact. It seems to me she would not have made that arrangement if she had been unwell and unable to attend as she now asserts but, even if I am wrong about that, there was no reason why the mother could not cancel the arrangement for contact, speak to her solicitor on the phone or call her solicitor or the court on the morning of the hearing to advise that she was unwell and unable to attend.
I see all of these examples as further examples of the established pattern of
the mother and Mr H being unable to be consistent, not only in their engagement with social care but in their management of these proceedings and in their attendance for contact.
So, for all of the above reasons to which I have already referred in this judgment, I am entirely satisfied that the mother and Mr H remain as a couple and that the deficiencies in the mother’s parenting have not been addressed in between the conclusion of the proceedings for A.
I find, firstly, that there has been no material change in the mother’s lack of capability to care for a child safely. In my judgment, any child would be at risk of physical harm in her care by virtue of her inability to control her temper or emotional harm as a result of witnessing volatility between his parents. Secondly, L would likely be neglected in either his mother’s or his father’s care or the care of both of them. Thirdly, the father poses a risk of physical and sexual harm to L. Fourthly, the mother is unable to protect L from the father and, fifthly, the father is unable to protect L from the mother. Consequently, it follows from everything that I have said that there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the threshold for the making of an order under Section 31 of the Children Act is established overwhelmingly in relation to L.
Moving on to consider what order if any I should make in relation to L, L is a young baby. He has the need of any young baby for safe care, security and nurture. He is far too young to express any wishes or feelings which the court could take into consideration and his physical, emotional and educational needs are
the same and will be the same as any young baby has.
The local authority has explored whether or not he can be cared for in his birth family. It has conducted assessments of a number of individuals put forward by the family and sadly it has concluded - rightly in my judgment - that he cannot be cared for safely by any member of his birth family. It would obviously be better for L if he could be cared for within his family as that placement would offer him the opportunity to grow up in his own family and be reassured of his parents’ love for him. However, I accept the excellent final analysis of the guardian in this case. In this scenario, L would be exposed to the risk of sexual abuse, neglect of his needs because of the significant limitations of both of his parents, physical and emotional abuse from exposure to domestic violence. The lack of commitment demonstrated towards him by his parents thus far would also cause me to question whether he would receive any real reassurance of their love for him if he were placed in their care.
I agree with both the local authority and the guardian that the only realistic option, given L’s very young age, is alternative care from that offered by his parents, in the form of an adoptive placement. Long-term foster care could not offer him the full sense of belonging and security and legal security which L requires and in any event the history demonstrates, as the guardian indicates, that his parents would be unlikely to be able to commit to on-going contact in a way that would ensure that L’s emotional needs were met if he were to grow up in foster care.
L will undoubtedly suffer emotional harm as a result of losing an opportunity to have relationships with his birth family and to grow up in his birth family. This will be a life-long enduring loss. However, in my judgment, his need to be protected from the many risks that there would be to him were he to remain in the care of his parents, both in the short and the long term, outweighs the harm he would suffer as a result of losing relationships with his birth family.
I note from the local authority’s care plan that there is a possibility that L may be able to be placed for adoption alongside his sibling A. It is unclear presently whether or not this could happen but, if that were achievable, it would obviously afford L an opportunity to grow up together with a sibling and this would reduce his feelings of loss in connection with his adoption outside his birth family. The care plan provides for a reduction in contact between L and his birth family which, in the circumstances, is entirely appropriate. The plan does provide for L to have an opportunity to have indirect contact with his parents at a frequency of once per annum and I consider this to be a contact plan which meets L’s need to have an understanding of his family of origin and his identity.
There is a pressing need for plans to be implemented for L without delay.
L is a child who is ready to be adopted. I have come to the firm conclusion that the only plan which meets L’s needs is one of adoption and that plan needs to be implemented without delay. Consequently, I have no hesitation in concluding that L’s welfare requires me to, firstly, make a care order to the local authority, secondly to dispense with his parents’ consent to adoption and, thirdly, to make a
placement order to the local authority and that concludes this judgment.