Police unfairly influence SS

DesperateDad
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:51 pm

Police unfairly influence SS

Postby DesperateDad » Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:15 pm

I’ll be as factual as I can as it’s a complicated situation (when isn’t it?), but essentially I need to know what I can to do re-establish the right to unsupervised contact and overnight stays. SS imposed a Working Together Agreement last year, lifted this recently, but now are implementing an even harsher one just because the police ‘complained’ to them because they were unhappy about the SS decision to drop the WTA, despite the fact that all this time (and pain) on, we have done nothing but adhere to the agreements whilst in place, there has been nothing but improvement in our situation, and there are no causes for concern – only the original case evidence.
I live with my partner in one authority – he has been convicted for possession of illegal images and is currently serving a suspended sentence, along with the weekly probation meetings, the VISOR contact/monitoring (and unannounced drop-ins) and he is about to start the counselling course required by his sentence.
I have a 2yr old child with a close friend (I was the donor but have been an active father ever since birth).
At the time of my partner’s arrest (August 2015), my child’s mother and I were obviously contacted and made aware formally of the situation (which he had disclosed previously to us), and restrictions were imposed on his contact with my child. We have always complied without fail.
In March 2017 I was arrested for the same offense (historical), and put on bail, and SS put in place a WTA for me, temporarily stopping me from unsupervised contact or overnight stays – which is a nightmare because I live quite a distance away and have weekly childcare (one/two days a week). By September 2017 the police stood down with no further action but made it clear that they had evidence from my equipment but were unable to charge me due to technical mistakes on their side.
It’s worth saying here that from the point of my partner’s arrest there have been many anomalies in the approach of the police, their treatment of us, and SS’s lack of response to us when seeking to establish paths forward. It’s also important to state that neither my partner nor I were aware of each other’s historic offenses although the police’s behaviour has very unfairly treated us as though there was some collusion. I suspect that this has something to do with their ‘mess up’ when confiscating all of our equipment in the first place and not logging things correctly, who knows?!
Anyway, I have been in counselling for two years, with a STOPSO counsellor on a weekly basis (which began prior to my arrest), and -despite the immense strain and upheaval, my friend and I have managed to maintain as much ‘normality’ for our child as possible, only disclosing the situation as necessary to a select number of friends and family (with all the emotional turmoil and confrontation that this causes too).
When my case was closed, the police in my authority told me that they would notify SS in my child’s authority (who presumably should have reviewed the situation at that point), but we continued to adhere to the WTA whilst trying unsuccessfully and repeatedly to make contact with them to review the situation.
When my partner has wanted to attend a family event or social gathering, he has first had to clear this with his probation officer/VISOR contact, who historically contacted my child’s authority SS. Sometimes they gave permission, other times they didn’t respond to the question (leaving his probation officer no option but to refuse him permission to attend), and sometimes SS denied permission for him to attend – it all depended entirely on whoever might have answered the telephone or responded to the e-mail, with no consistency or logic around the decisions.
In March 2018 I forced contact with SS to ask them to be consistent or to outline their criteria for decisions around his visits, and they acted surprised that his probation officers needed their permission at all, saying that it was now up to my child’s mother to decide (having had disclosure), and that they would notify his probation team that SS no longer needed to be involved in decisions around his contact, as long as he was working within his sentence, notifying his probation team/VISOR, and that my child’s mother was fully aware and had full disclosure – they spoke to her and it was agreed.
Our case was now closed, and the WTA ceased. This was amazing because it meant that my friend and I could now resume ‘normal’ shared parenting, my involvement was no longer hindered, meaning that I could take my child to visit my family, collect from nursery, stay overnight, babysit at weekends if Mum wanted to go out (at her house, and without my partner obviously) etc.
However, my partner’s VISOR officer made it clear (to my partner) that he was horrified that SS were allowing me unsupervised contact with my child, despite the fact that he was not the arresting officer in my case, has nothing to do with my case (only my partner’s), I had never met him (nor my partner’s probation officer), and despite the fact that my visits to my child (agreed by SS in an entirely different local authority) had nothing to do with him. In the meantime, my full, enhanced DBS had been restored to me also – I had to raise a dispute with DBS and police, who agreed to reinstate it?!
The VISOR officer complained to SS, who summoned me to a meeting, then met my toddler and Mum at their home, and said that they need to carry out new investigations, re-instate the original WTA conditions until they can make a new decision, contact my child’s GP, nursery etc (making further disclosure that we have worked so hard to avoid), and they tried to deny having ever lifted the original WTA, eventually saying it was a mistake on their part.
Last week, the social worker had a video conference with EIGHT professionals in my local authority, including my partner’s probation officer (nothing to do with me), his VISOR officer (nothing to do with me, but very unprofessionally vocal about his thoughts on me throughout the last 2.5yrs), and various other professionals. We knew the meeting was taking place because my partner had been told by his probation officer – the social worker was horrified to discover that we knew it was taking place, and WE are the parents!
Obviously, the social worker hadn’t been involved in my historic case (they have changed many times over the course of time, with some leaving, some temporary staff, each time wanting to re-acquaint themselves with the information they should already have, and re-open discussions). The social worker stated to my child’s mother that “if we find that there is no further action, no new offenses, then we are likely to be able to continue without a WTA and to put this behind us.” This made sense to us – after all, the arrest was for historic evidence dating back, the case was closed with no further action, my DBS had been restored, we had been allowed to resume normal contact, access, unsupervised visits, and there was no evidence to suggest that my child was unhappy, unwell, mistreated, abused, or exposed to any risk (which would have been easily gleaned from my child’s nursery, GP, observation, discussion with Mum, healthworker etc.)
However, during the heavy-handed meeting he had with the eight professionals, they provided him with their reasoning behind why I should NOT be allowed unsupervised access (i.e. details of the evidence they had previously had but couldn’t use for whatever reason, details of images, conversations etc.) He returned with a decision to re-instate the old WTA (possibly with even harsher conditions than the previous one), lasting until my child is TEN (another 8 years away!), with no unsupervised access, overnight visits, and therefore no ability for me to have ‘normal’ family holidays with my child, no babysitting, no opportunities to forge a one-to-one relationship with my child and be the father I had intended to be and have strived to be, and was given the full opportunity to do for the first year of my child’s life, and the last few months. We are horrified and terrified.
My child’s mother has an impossible task in front of her. She knows and believes me to be a great father to our child, posing no risk, and she fully believes that our child is much better off with my uninterrupted involvement as an active father and role-model. She was obviously horrified (at the point of my partner’s arrest and sentencing, and the details of my arrest), and could never condone the behaviour. However, her knowledge of me, our weekly contact and discussions around this, my ongoing counselling, and the way in which we have worked hard through this all mean that she has been an amazing source of support. We have both done our utmost to ensure that our child has so far been unaware of any of the stress and pressure we have been under, and we have been thrilled to be able to get on with life, aware of how fortunate we have been to have a second chance, and we have made leaps of progress.
Understandably, the visit this week and the re-visiting of historic details has re-opened the horror for her (and for me) and put afresh feelings of fear and concern in her mind. Whilst I understand the importance of disclosure in order to ensure a mother can make informed decisions around the safeguarding of her child, I cannot believe that it is healthy or helpful for SS/police to continually interfere unprompted because they are unhappy to know that a long way away there’s a family able to get on with life, disgruntled because the father is ‘the one who got away’.
The 8 people in the meeting were nothing to do with me, I have no probation officer to vouch for me (I wasn’t charged, had no trial with any pre-sentencing report of mitigating circumstances, and was not sentenced). There is nobody amongst the 8 people present (or anyone within the police) with any knowledge of me, my life over the last two years, my counselling, my progress, they have no contact with me, other than the contact they have with my partner and HIS case/sentence/conditions.
We feel so powerless to challenge the SS decision, which is not based upon any real assessment of me, my child’s mother, my child’s health and happiness or ongoing well-being. It is not based on their sensible prior decision to allow us to move on. It is based upon the intervention of police from another borough, providing the social worker with the horrors of historical evidence (that had already been available to previous social workers, and involved no contact offenses). The social worker also stated to my child’s mother that he had been categorically told during the video-conference that my partner & I had colluded or been involved together in our offenses, which is absolutely untrue, and has certainly never been raised with my partner during any of his probation meetings. It was never raised during the case (either case), although we can see various instances of unprofessional conduct by the police/probation over the course of the last 2.5yrs, such as discussing the details of my case with him during his meetings, voicing their views of me during his home-visits, inviting him in to my ‘stand down’ meeting at the police stations, so that they could tell me about the evidence on me that they could not use, in his presence. All very strange.
My child’s mum is now scared to fight on my behalf or to insist that she trusts me because the social worker has made it clear that she must demonstrate fear/mistrust if she herself is to be entrusted with my child’s wellbeing and safety. But if she does the opposite and agrees to state that she does not trust me (aside from being untrue) she provides them with the logical right to impose restrictions on me.
How can we possibly argue against whatever viewpoint SS want to take, when they are governed by the ongoing intervention of the police who do not know me. It seems that if I had been arrested, charged and sentenced all that time ago, then by now they may be looking to relax the WTA on my family because they would know me, know the counselling I have undergone, have access to evidence on me etc. Because there was no further action, I will never have the ability to demonstrate that we have moved on. In a year, two years, five years, ten years, they will never accept that I have suffered sufficiently, suffered an immense amount (if punishment is their aim), nor will they ever accept that I have made great strides to turn my life around (if rehabilitation is their concern). They are set in their minds, and we have no way of ensuring the best outcome for our child, i.e. the most ‘normal’ upbringing we can provide, with two parents who are responsible, adoring, intelligent, self-aware, fallible, remorseful (in my case), and close friends! How can someone put this behind them and move on with life in a healthy way for all concerned (which has to be the aim of the law and the system) if every couple of years the police are going to re-intervene with no prompting, in order to scupper what we have strived hard to build back up. I’m just waiting now to see what else they’re going to try to do to me, perhaps they’ll decide to find away to remove my DBS again and scupper any hope I have of work!
Please, any advice or help would be so greatly appreciated!!!

User avatar
Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 1988
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Police unfairly influence SS

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:38 pm

Dear Desperate dad,

Welcome to the Parents Forum.
I can see that there have been various assessments and interventions by children services into your contact with your son. Currently, they have stated that you can only have supervised contact with your son and no over-night visits. Mum has been assessed as being protective enough to be the supervisor. Is there any type of plan (child in need or child protection) in place to monitor and support this arrangement? Or has the case been closed?

Because there were no criminal case pursued against you, it is likely that you have missed out on some of the support that might be offered to alleged sex offenders via this route. Such assessments and support can be used by children services in their assessments and may have resulted in your risk level being reduced.
However, you have been engaging with counselling. Was this taken into account by children services when they assessed you?

I think the most important thing you can do is to see what forensic assessments of you could be done and what support other support could you engage with, to reduce any risk you pose.
If you can, have a look at the Parents Protect website and speak to the Just stop it now helpline about your situation.
Have all the appropriate (specialist) assessments of you been completed or have children services only completed their own assessment and left your contact supervised?

I suggest you ask the social worker, in writing, to provide copies of any assessments completed of you.
You could also request a copy of your son’s file via the Data Protection Act process. See the information commissioner’s advice on how best to do this.

I just wanted to flag up with you about police involvement with assessments.
For there to be a criminal conviction the police would need to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that an offence had been committed.
However, children services have a different balance of proof. They only need to show that on the “balance of probabilities”, so 51% compared to 49%, that you might be a sexual risk to children. This is because of the vulnerability of children compared to adults. So there may be some adults who may be innocent but who have limits on their right to a full family life, in order to protect children against assessed risks.
So the key for you would be to reduce any risks that have been highlighted. The starting point is seeing what the assessments of you and mum say and what you can do to address the risks identified.

I hope this advice helps but if I have missed anything or you have further questions or need further advice, please post again or call our confidential advice line on 0808 801 0366.

Best wishes

Suzie

DesperateDad
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:51 pm

Re: Police unfairly influence SS

Postby DesperateDad » Thu May 03, 2018 12:54 pm

Hi Suzie,
Thanks for getting back to us. In response to your questions:
- There is currently only the Working Together Agreement in place (the original one which was dropped and then reinstated), so no CIN or CP plan (as of yet)
- The counselling I have engaged with has not been taken into account as far as I am aware, as they only know about it because I happened to mention it in our last meeting.
- I don't know what 'specialist' assessments of me could be completed, are you able to elaborate? All that has been done as far as I am aware are the assessments completed by CS, leaving my contact supervised.

I believe that the social worker has finally made contact with the mother this morning, saying that the original WTA is likely to remain in place (until the children are 10) but that he'll need to meet with her and me (individually) first, to get us to sign, and then 'close'....

Thanks
DD

User avatar
Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 1988
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Police unfairly influence SS

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri May 11, 2018 11:43 am

Hi DD,

Mum is complying with children services request that you only have supervised contact. Mum is quite right to follow what children services says until there is a further assessment of you. If she didn’t and allowed you unsupervised contact, then there would be a real chance this would have been escalated to child protection level.

Your complaint is that you have been wrongly assessed as being dangerous to your son-that you might sexually abuse him. I questioned whether the social workers assessment of you was fair.
The social worker is saying this arrangement is to stay in place until your son is 10 years old.
How did he reach this decision?
In these circumstances, I would expect you to have a risk assessment by someone who specialises in internet offences and risk of sexual abuse.
Ask the social worker whether he is an expert in risk assessing alleged sex offenders?
Or, as I recommended in my last post, contact the Lucy Faithfull Foundation- Just Stop It Now helpline and ask about forensic risk assessments and support such as counselling that might be available to you and your family.
If you are not getting the right assessment and support as advised by Lucy Faithfull Foundation, ask the social worker why.
Ultimately you can challenge any decisions or failure to assess, by way of complaint. Here are tips for working with children services.

Let the social worker know about the counselling and other support you have completed and ask for copy of the social work assessment to see how you have been assessed. Also ask him to outline what you can do to reduce any risk you pose and for him to recommend any courses for you to do.

The other way to have your contact looked at, to see whether it is fair, is the private law route for a child arrangements order for contact.
The private law route would allow a judge to make a decision based on what is in the best interests of your son-looking at the welfare checklist. However, the judge would ask for a section 7 report which may be completed by children’s services. I expect the court would want a forensic risk assessment of you but who I am not sure who would pay for this as private law children act proceedings are not within FRG’s remit. You could contact Families Need Fathers or the Child Law advice line who should be able to help or seek advice from a solicitor.
I hope this advice helps.

Best wishes,

Suzie


Return to “Welcome and rules of use”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest