family

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The decision in Lancashire CC v B was unclear in the explanation of what a carer is. In Redbridge LBC v B it was unclear whether a child was harmed by a health care worker at the hospital or by a parent. The court held that the criteria in the threshold test were met due to the fact that while the child was in the hospital the health care worker was classed as a carer. The issue of deciding whether or not to make a care order in a case of an unknown perpetrator was determined in Re O and N . The cases were both involving children who had been injured. In one case it was probably the father who had harmed the child, but the mother could have been to blame. In the other case one of the parents had clearly harmed the child, but it was unclear which parent it was. In both cases, the mother and father had separated since, and the threshold test was met. The application of the welfare principle was different in each case. The courts had to weigh up: should they not make a care order and return the child to the mother as it was not clear that she was responsible for harming the child, or were the suspicions enough to justify a care order? Lord Nicholls said that agreeing with the method in Re H at the welfare stage in uncertain perpetrator cases would be ‘grotesque because it would mean that the court would proceed on the footing that neither parent represents a risk even though one or other of them was the perpetrator of the harm in question’. He stated, ‘the preferable interpretation of the legislation is that in such cases the court is able to proceed at the welfare stage on the footing that each of the possible perpetrators is, indeed, just that: a possible perpetrator’. He also said that social workers should be wary in these ca... ... middle of paper ... ...ssible risk to the child in that case are too similar to Lancashire County Council v B to merit a different approach. Applying s.31(2) does create a difficult balancing exercise which is difficult for local authorities to get right. Cobley & Lowe believe that, “in the light of the case law, section 31(2) strikes the right balance as it stands” . As stated in a Guardian article,“Under the Children Act 1989, the statutory thresholds set down are simple, but open to wide interpretation. This system places the onus for making the right call on the professional skill and judgment of social workers” . The courts must seek to protect parents as well as children in order to have a meaningful role in child protection. This was explained by Cobley & Lowe, “on the one hand protecting the family against undue state intervention and on the other protecting children at risk” .
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