Family court focus

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27/06/2018

Family court focus

As we go to print work if well underway on developing the Family Courts Professional Session at Napo’s AGM, which is on 5 and 6 October this year, in Southport. The FCS session will take place on the Friday afternoon of conference and we are planning a Question Time Style panel on the future of Cafcass and justice. We will be inviting the new Chair of the Cafcass Board, Edward Timpson to take part alongside Caroline willow from Together with Children, a parliamentarian and a Family Court lawyer. This year, FCS will also be running a fringe meeting on Saturday lunchtime.

Can I also remind Family Court members that the Section AGM will be held on the Thursday before Napo AGM, 4 October, in the Ramada Plaza Hotel (next door to the conference venue). More information will be sent out to members nearer the time.

Put these dates in your diaries.

Workloads

Workloads in Cafcass continue to be a major concern. Family Law Week has just reported that in April 2018, Cafcass received a total of 3,541 new private law cases. This is a 13 per cent increase compared to those received in April 2017. This is the highest demand for the month of April in the last four years. In April 2018, Cafcass received a total of 1,110 care applications. This figure represents a 6 per cent increase in comparison with April 2017.

The Workload Measurement tool is not effective at reflecting workloads accurately. It is not a measure of time available to do the work. When it first began, “green” was a reasonable achievable workload and the present “green” is not.

The Cafcass Negotiating Committee have agreed to re-run the Napo TOIL and working hours survey ASAP so that we have a clearer picture of where the problems are and the extent of the issue. I have recently seen an email from a manager member of Cafcass HR team reminding colleagues that “updating cases between the hours of 12am and 3am is not advisable for a number of reasons”. Well, well, well.

The following quote is taken from a Cafcass issued document to staff. “The Working Time Directive is European legislation that came into force on 1st October 1998 and applies to all workers. A worker is an employee or someone who is paid a regular salary or wage and works for the organisation, including a trainee on work experience. The intention of the Directive is to protect workers’ health and safety at work by limiting the number of hours worked and providing rest breaks and annual leave entitlements….

“The Working Time Regulations (WTR) restrict the number of working hours to an average of 48 hours per week for each worker. The average is normally calculated over a rolling 17-week period”.

Equal Rights

As part of my duties as national vice-chair, I have recently taken on the role of link officer with Napo Equal Rights Committee. This committee needs more members. Please consider joining. It is not over demanding with only one face to face meeting each year and other work undertaken by email, teleconferences etc.

Considering the recent publicity of the Windrush scandal it seems that racism and discrimination are alive and thriving at the highest institutional levels.

Amnesty International have found that about 80% of those on the Metropolitan Police gangs matrix database are black despite Met figures showing that only 27% of serious youth violence is committed by black offenders. This could seriously harm young lives and is to be the focus of an enquiry by the information commissioner following the claim by Amnesty that it is racist and in breach of human rights law. The youngest person on the database is aged only twelve.

Jay Barlow
National vice-chair, Family Court Section

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