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Deprivation of Liberty

Posted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 3:01 pm
by Ignatious
Well,.. recently has a 6 month review and the decision is to remain on plan for another 6 months. Obviously not happy about that. 2 main issues why were still on, one centred on my 3 month old and the other the 9 year old. It's the 9 year old I'm going to discuss here.

He has significant needs. Autism, ADHD (both undiagnosed), Epileptic, Joint hypermobility to the point of self dislocation (which he self corrects) and as such an unsteady gait. He can't talk so there is no 2 way verbal communication and as such is extremely reliant on adults to interpret his wishes.

Recently, He has figured out he is tall enough to climb over his bedroom stairgate, (I would like to add the gate is there to keep him in his room at night), made his way downstairs and into a storage cupboard with pads, nappies, wipes and assorted creams and smeared himself head to waist in Sudocream. (between 2:00am when he climbed over gate and 3:30am when I discovered him).

As such, I decided as a parent I needed to ensure my stepson is safe within his room of a night and that this kind of activity is not replicated. In that regard, I went out, purchased a second stairgate and positioned it directly above the first one.

The professionals involved, notably safeguarding social worker has described this as a depravation of his liberty. I disagree. It was a decision of the chair at conference that the gates are to come down effective immediately. To date, this has not happened and I feel the local authority are/have overstepped.

My understanding is they have a threefold duty. (1) to investigate, (2) provide supporting services and (3) refer matter to court. They can not regulate, control, compel, restrain, confine or coerce without sanction of the court. I would also argue that Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards currently only applies to 18yr olds +, and those between 16-17, they are covered by the Mental Capacities Act. Upto 16, it falls within parental remit.

My failure to comply with the decision of the conference and social workers I can clearly see is going to be taken negatively as non compliance, but I feel completely justified by my actions, well within my rights as a parent and to not stand up for what I believe is right would be negligent in protecting what few rights we have as parents.

Re: Deprivation of Liberty

Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 12:19 pm
by Suzie, FRG Adviser
Hi Ignatious,
I am sorry to hear that the children remain on a child protection plan and that you disagree with the reasons for this.

Regarding your 9 year old stepson, rather than the professionals trying to coerce, compel etc, it may be that they have been trying to advise? As you suggest, ‘Deprivation of Liberty’ may not have been the best term to use. It might have better been expressed as a health and safety concern, such as what would happen if there was an emergency in the home and the family had to leave quickly? Two child safety gates in one doorway may have prevented a quick evacuation in the event of a fire for example. Perhaps you could ask your local fire brigade for some advice or tips and or an occupational therapist might be able to undertake a home visit and offer help and support to your nine year old?

Also, although difficult, it may be useful if you spoke to the children’s social worker, in particular, a children with disabilities social worker, assuming your stepson has one for their suggestions on how to keep your stepson safe.

I see that you have chosen not to remove the stairgates and, as you say, this could be taken negatively. Can I ask, if it was part of the Plan that the gates must be removed? The consequences of not following the plan can potentially be very serious, with the risk of Children’s Services increasing their involvement with your family and potentially taking advice from their legal department as to whether they should consider removing the children. If you aren’t going to follow their recommendations, I would suggest you follow some of my suggestions above and discuss your concerns about removing the stairgates with the social worker (and other professional mentioned) and get their suggestions as to what else can be put in place instead to ensure your stepsons safety rather than just ignore them completely.

Also, I’d just like to clarify whether you have parental responsibility for your stepchildren? I saw that you referred to your partner as your fiancée previously. Have you married yet? If you are married to their mother and have an authorised Step-Parent Parental Responsibility Agreement (PRA), then clearly you have parental responsibility. If you have not yet married or if you have but not yet got an authorised Step-Parent PRA, you do not have parental responsibility and therefore do not have any legal decision-making ability for your step children, or right to any information being shared with you and you might want to discuss getting one with your wife and the children’s father if he has parental responsibility.

If you’d like further advice, perhaps you might like to call us on our telephone advice service so that we can discuss your concerns in more detail. Our lines are open Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3.00pm on 0808 801 0366 (excluding Bank Holidays).

I hope that you find this helpful.

Best wishes


Re: Deprivation of Liberty

Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:28 pm
by Ignatious
Thank you for your reply Suzie.

Firstly I would like to confirm even though I am not the child's biological father, I do have a full PR order granted by the courts (Both biological parents agreed to my having PR) as it was in the best interests of the child.

In the period since my last post, I have decided to complain to the Local Authority and am currently at Stage 1 of the process. Whereby I gave them 'enough meat on the bone' to initiate an investigation, I feel it will not be sufficient to resolve my issue. IF it does manage to resolve it at stage 1, all well and good. However I am days away from receiving the written response and have already started to formulate an escalation to stage 2 in the event that they are not.

I would like to confirm that in the minutes of the child protection paperwork I have received from the last conference specifically instructs me to 'remove' the stair gates effective today (the date of the conference). And yes, to date, the stair gates have remained and will continue to do so. Over the course of the last few weeks, I have researched case law regarding deprivation of liberty and try to keep abreast of the ever changing situation in law on this subject. All of my research has pointed me toward having a very strong case that the LA have overstepped.

I strongly and genuinely feel that it is my right and duty as a parent to protect my step-son. Unfortunately as part of this process his liberty may have become restricted but this decision was not taken lightly and has been taken encompassing multiple layers of the family dynamic. My point remains however that I feel the LA have no power to instruct me to change what happens within the home especially when I think it is (at least for the moment) in his best interests when factoring in all of the elements he presents with and the family functionality.

Re: Deprivation of Liberty

Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 3:45 pm
by Ignatious

So, I got my Stage 1 reply back,... Having gone through this procedure before my assumption was correct. The Manager who investigated her employee, the Safeguarding Social Worker, basically sided with the social worker in that she 'did not tell me what to do' but would use words like 'advise' and 'recommends' sometimes with the prefix 'strongly' to denote the seriousness of concerns. Complaint not upheld.

So, Off went my 8 or 9 page escalation letter to Stage 2. I mean, come on,... When a social worker 'Strongly recommends' in a society where not following advice and recommendations (from a social worker) is deemed as non compliance, to 'strongly recommend' still amounts to being told.

So, my concerns remain that the Local Authority have 'Told me what to do' when I believe they have fail in their duty to properly investigate, and had they actually looked into the matter properly might have arrived at the conclusion that what I have done is (granted, not ideal) well within my rights

Chasing up my complaint pre weekend, Its still not been looked at (6 working days after I sent it) but I've been assured it will be looked at on Monday, not as a Stage 2, but as a corporate complaint. I would guess my escalation has some serious merit.

Question to FRG, In relation to complaints procedure, can the complaints team change from the standard stage 1, stage 2 format?, and what is a corporate complaint (in relation to the Local Authority) and is it potentially as serious (ie policies being breached) as I'm thinking it is?