Sentenced for possession of IIOC. Zero contact with my daughter since arrest...

SuFather
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:30 pm

Sentenced for possession of IIOC. Zero contact with my daughter since arrest...

Postby SuFather » Thu Aug 24, 2017 4:19 pm

First of all, I'd like to say thank you to FRG for having such a great resource. I have read a good number of threads on the board and feel great empathy for you who are going through something similar to what I have experienced.

I am in a currently in a position where I do not know where is best to turn for assistance and would be most grateful for some advice. I have taken some good pointers from previous posters on threads but I will now outline my situation below.

My wife and I separated when my daughter was 9 years old. My wife and I had not been getting on well for some years and I ended up meeting somebody else. My relationship with my daughter was, and always had been, fantastic and has meant everything to me. On separation, I moved out of the family home to live on my own and my wife made my life difficult in every conceivable respect! Harassment of my new partner and myself, even death threats, but most upsetting of all, making it difficult and awkward to see my daughter. I arranged mediation sessions which my wife reluctantly agreed to attend, but we could not come to (what I would consider to be) a fair resolution: ie) I wanted see my daughter every other weekend and some of the school holidays.

Over the next year, my life started to fall apart. I managed to see my daughter on a sporadic basis when my soon-to-be ex-wife would permit. Then rather stupidly, I got arrested for possession of IIOC. This is something I can't believe I've actually done, but after engaging with Lucy Faithful, a psychotherapist and being diagnosed with severe clinical depression, I feel like I am in a much, much better place now. On arrest, I was bailed and one of the bail conditions was that I could not have contact with anybody under the age of 18 unless approved by Childrens' Services. This is totally understand from the police's and CS's risk management perspective. I was told by the police that a risk assessment would be carried out by CS and I would hear from them soon.

Two weeks later, I had not heard anything from CS, so found the phone number and called them. After several phone calls, I got through to a case worker, who had spoken to my wife and daughter two weeks previously. He had carried out a full risk assessment with them and had concluded that on a scale of 1-10, I was of the highest level risk 10. It was therefore decided that I was to have no contact with my daughter except for on the phone, providing my wife was able to listen in on the call. The fact that CS hadn't even bothered to attempt to contact me and also the fact that they carried out a full risk assessment without engaging with me in any respect was of great concern. I voiced my opinion thus, but was told that CS can carry out a risk assessment without engaging with the alleged offender and they were under no obligation to contact me.

The investigation by the police took twelve months. In that time, I have had very irregular contact with my daughter over the phone, usually one call every week or two for a strictly timed period of five minutes on each call. I wrote to CS on two occasions during this period asking for them to reconsider their decision, the answer remained 'no', the case was closed until after the police investigation was completed. In addition to this, the police officer in charge of the investigation was so surprised that I had not been allowed any contact with my daughter, that he also sent a correspondence to the CS case worker, stating that in his opinion, I was '..of very low risk..' and '..should have been interviewed in the CS's risk assessment..' Unfortunately, this also fell upon deaf ears.

The court case is now thankfully over- I received a short suspended sentence for the possession of a small number of images. I was issued with a SHPO (Sexual Harm Prevention Order) that will expire in five years. Condition 1 of the SHPO is that I shouldn't advertently be in the presence of any child under the age of 16 unaccompanied, except for my daughter (with the approval of CS). The last part of the statement was a great relief to me when read out in court!

However, this relief was short-lived. On leaving court, I contacted CS, told them the news and asked them to re-open their case so that I could have access to my daughter. One week later, I called them back for an update and regrettably, they told me that their decision remained the same as before the court case- I am not to have any contact with my daughter. I was utterly distraught. They would not provide me with any further information and said my only route is to seek legal representation.

After separating from my wife, she has been a nightmare to deal with, especially in respect of having access to my daughter. My arrest/conviction obviously exacerbated this. We are still not on speaking terms and I rather suspect that it is largely down to her influencing CS, that I am not allowed to see my daughter still.

I have been reading advice from lawyers, I have been reading advice from Fathers 4 Justice (who recommend not to use a lawyer) and have looked into Litigant in Person (self representation in court). I basically do not know what steps I should take next and would be most grateful of any advice and input here.

Many thanks for reading.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 1687
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Sentenced for possession of IIOC. Zero contact with my daughter since arrest...

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:43 pm

Dear SuFather

Welcome to the parents discussion board.

My name is Suzie, online adviser at Family Rights Group.

From your post, you seem very distressed that you are not able to see your daughter as you are receiving no support from children’s services to do so.

Children’s services role is to ensure that children are safeguard and not at risk of harm. Prior to your conviction, children’s services decided that you should not have contact with your daughter. I do not know enough about any assessments carried out by them or whether your daughter was placed on a child protection or any other plan. Whilst the case was open and children services were carrying out enquiries it is likely that they would have suggested to your daughter’s mother that there should be no contact.

Now that they have closed their case, unless your daughter’s mother has been told that any contact with you would mean that children’s services will become involved again or have concerns about her ability to protect her daughter, I think it is probably your former wife’s decision that contact should not take place.

As you say children’s services do not consider that you should have contact, I suggest you ask that they carry out a risk assessment of you to find out what level of risk you might pose to your daughter. Put your request in writing when you ask for a risk assessment and ask for a written response.

If your daughter’s mother is unwilling to supervise contact, do you have anyone else you can suggest could do so? You would need to have someone in mind if you do make an application to the court. It may be that contact will have to be at a contact centre, you should try to identify one which you attend as a result of Children’s services do not have parental responsibility for your daughter only you and your ex-wife share parental responsibility.

The only course open to you if you wife will not discuss contact would be to make an application to the court. Your application would be for a child arrangement order for contact.

There is currently limited or no legal aid for such cases so unless you can afford to engage a solicitor, the likelihood is that you would be a litigant in person. The courts are now used to cases being brought by people without a lawyer.

You may wish to make contact Coram Children’s Legal Centre (Child Law Advice) on 0300 330 5480 as this is the organisation that offers advice in respect of private law proceedings. There website here .

I hope you find this helpful.

Best wishes

Suzie

DD2SS
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2017 4:56 pm

Re: Sentenced for possession of IIOC. Zero contact with my daughter since arrest...

Postby DD2SS » Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:02 pm

Dear SuFather,

I am sorry to hear about your situation. I understand just how painful it is not being able to see your children.

Having had experience of many of the issues you raise in your post, I thought it might be helpful to write. I am coming from a personal rather than a professional perspective, but hopefully it will be useful to you. If I seem critical at any point, please take it as constructive since I am not being judgmental, only realistic.

You appear to be facing a number of problems at the moment, but please correct me if I'm wrong. First, you have a conviction for child sex offences, are on the sex offenders' register, and have some other conditions as part of a SHPO. Second, you haven't seen your daughter - who seems to be around ten or eleven - for many months. Third, you do not have means to see your daughter because your ex-wife will not allow it. Fourth, your relationship with your wife was already on bad terms because of the circumstances of the separation and divorce, the details of which are uncertain but reading between the lines may not reflect brilliantly on you. Fifth, the CS case seems to be closed because you do not see your daughter and your wife is protecting your daughter. Finally, you have not had any specialist risk assessments performed (outside the criminal justice system) to evidence your risk status.

My understanding of where you are at the moment is that - notwithstanding Suzie's point about CS conducting a risk assessment - since you and your ex-wife cannot agree on child arrangements, you will need to apply to court for a child arrangements order under private law. I realise that FRG specialises in public law, but perhaps my comments will be helpful whichever system people are in. I will keep them fairly general, not least because every case is different, services and experience in this area seems to be fragmented, and once you have had experience of family law you learn not to try to pre-empt anything!

I will make two broad comments first. First, everything you do now, try to keep your daughter's interests and what's right for her first. This may well be different from what you want or what you think is right. Second, try to accept that this is a long process and coming to terms with a serious criminal conviction and its consequences - for yourself, for those around you, but mainly your daughter - will be a lifelong process.

I recommend that, regardless of whether your communications get through or not, try to write to your daughter every week so that she knows that you love her and so that you maintain some form of contact. I would keep it focussed on her, what she is up to at school, and not write about your life and new partner.

I am sure you are aware that to apply to court you will need to have tried and failed mediation first. After that, it is difficult to say how things will progress. It is possible that in a case like this the court may appoint a Children's Guardian to protect the children's interests. There are protocols to deal with a case like this.

It would be easy to think that the only factor that the court will consider is risk. Obviously that is a big part of what the court will need to establish, but it is not the only part. You may need to undergo formal psychological assessment. It is worth being prepared - and have thought about - those other things that might mean that even if risk is deemed to be suitably low or manageable might influence the nature of the time you spend with your daughter.

I would consider the following. First, your daughter is old enough to be aware of the nature of your crime. She will have been taught about internet safety at school and will be starting to realise that you are one of the people she has been warned about. She will be exposed to the media and TV where sex offending and child abuse are commonly talked about. She may or may not be able to put some of these issues and feelings aside, but you will need to accept that her feelings (particularly as she reaches adolescence) - while influenced by the people around her - may be her own, genuine, and might affect your relationship with her. On a general note, it is worth remembering that many if not most people who hear or think about individuals who commit child abuse, however indirectly, feel genuine disgust, and your daughter may also feel that way.

Second, you now haven't seen her for a period of time, so you may need to go through a period of time in a contact centre to rebuild trust and the relationship as well as gather evidence for court about how good you are with her.

Third, I don't know the circumstances of the split between her mother and yourself, but your daughter may have feelings about that too that might affect your relationship independently of your offence.

Fourth, your ex-wife may well be a nightmare to deal with from your perspective, but she is unlikely to be viewed as behaving irrationally under the circumstances. On the contrary, most people would regard her as behaving completely rationally. Therefore, this is about what's best for your daughter - having as good as possible relationship with her father provided it is safe to do so. Therefore, accepting you will do everything possible to your best for her, go at her pace, understand the complexity of the situation, and not blame her mother for your actions might help your case.

With respect to legal representation, the above should start to indicate that this may well be a very very expensive process with lawyers. Think of a number, double it, then double it again! Many of the issues aren't really legal, but where lawyers do help is filtering out the client's high emotion and making sure you don't make matters worse for yourself. For instance - and please take this the right way - your post shows two examples of not taking responsibility for your crime: your stupidity was not getting arrested for the crime but committing the crime in the first place, and secondly you cannot see your daughter at the moment not because of your wife but because you committed a child sex offence. These types of details raise people's eyebrows and get opposing lawyers, judges, and psychologists frothing, and not in your favour!

That's probably enough for one day, but I hope it helps. I am sure that you will get to see your daughter in due course, but please make sure you have the support around you for this part of your journey. It can be really, really tough.

Best wishes.


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