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Judge criticises social workers

PUBLISHED: 13:21 15 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:48 25 August 2010

A TOP judge has criticised social workers for trying to separate two children from their warm and loving mother. The new head of the family courts, Lord Justice Wall, slammed Greenwich social workers for failing to support a mother trying to be reunite

A TOP judge has criticised social workers for trying to separate two children from their "warm and loving" mother.

The new head of the family courts, Lord Justice Wall, slammed Greenwich social workers for failing to support a mother trying to be reunited with her two young children, who are in care.

Sir Nicholas Wall, who was sworn in on Tuesday as the president of the High Court's family division, said that the actions of the council would not help to get rid of an image that social workers were "arrogant and enthusiastic removers of children from their parents into an unsatisfactory care system - trampling

on the rights of parents and children in the process".

The case began in January 2008, when a three-year-old girl was taken to hospital with her arm broken in three places.

After doctors treating her injury told social workers that the incident had not been an accident, the young girl and her five-year-old brother, from Greenwich, were taken into care the same day.

A judge confirmed the care order in November 2008 after hearing that the girl's father was probably responsible for the injury, and that her mother was probably still in contact with the man.

But in a hearing last Friday, Judge Baron overturned the care order.

She called the order "draconian" and said that the children's mother had asked Greenwich council to help her escape her abusive relationship to no avail.

Lord Justice Wall, who was sitting alongside Mrs Justice Baron, said: "She both needed and sought help and was quite improperly rebuffed by a local authority which had plainly prejudged the issue."

He added that this was "very poor social work practise."

A spokesman for Greenwich council said: "Our priority was, and always will be, to protect children from being violently abused. In this case there was overwhelming evidence that a baby had been physically abused and we developed a care plan to provide safety and security for the baby and another young sibling.

"We accept the court's concerns about the lack of support provided to the mother. The council has policies to treat cases of domestic violence extremely seriously and with great sensitivity.

"We are arranging for an independent review of the case so we have the best plan to ensure the welfare of these very young children."

tim.dickens@archant.co.uk

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