Contact framework

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Starwars90
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue May 04, 2021 12:37 pm

Contact framework

Post by Starwars90 » Tue May 04, 2021 3:01 pm

I was arrested in January on suspicion of possession of IIOC and am on bail with conditions that I cannot live or sleep in a property with children. This has meant I’ve had to move out of the family home.

To say this has turned my life upside down is an understatement. I have been (and continue to be) under an incredible amount of stress from all angles which fills my every waking moment. My family is also suffering a consequence of the events in terms of my absence from the family home for a very long indefinite period. I am thankfully getting some help dealing with mental health from doctors and MIND.

My wife is willing for me to return home. My children want me back and are in the dark of why I am not at home which is hard to keep up a pretence. Children are under 5

The bail has recently been renewed by a magistrates Court till July. The police investigation is delayed awaiting forensic testing of devices.

The police made a report to social services which has resulted in a contact plan being put in place which coupled with the police bail conditions means I am getting very little contact with children.

I question the police use of bail rather than “releasing under investigation” and the amount of time I am being kept waiting on bail. It seems to fly in the face of presumption of innocent till proved guilty , right to a trial in a reasonable period of time and right to family life .wherever innocent or guilty nobody should be kept in limbo for months and months.

The assumption is being made by social services that I am guilty of the worst imaginable crimes and that it could involve or affect my children which in turn justifies their extreme actions . They have not been forthcoming in setting out the stages of the process
( it there is any ) for how I can get from having little supervised contact, increasing supervised contact and ultimately returning home .

Questions

1. What are the steps of the process I can expect to go through to get my life back? I appreciate until the criminal matter is concluded I can’t expect to move home as bail conditions prevent . Is there any kind of framework that social services are following like a reintegration plan or is it just the whims of each social worker to decide when and what steps to happen before and if a father can return home ?


2. What can I do to help speed this along ?



By this I mean
(a) increasing supervised contact 
(b) having almost unrestricted supervised contact subject to wife 
(c) moving back home and having unrestricted contact and a normal life

I imagine I need to wait to make a plea and the police forensics to come back before anything much happens . After that what do I need to do to get social services off my back and return to a normal life . I imagine but guessing that they will want me and or wife to complete some kind of course. As I say I want a bit more certainty so I can plan my life returning to normal.

Thanks

Starwars90
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue May 04, 2021 12:37 pm

Re: Contact framework

Post by Starwars90 » Mon May 10, 2021 3:43 pm

Hi Suzie

Are you able to advise on my questions? thanks

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 3055
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Contact framework

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon May 10, 2021 4:03 pm

Dear Starwars90,

Welcome to the Parents Forum. I am Suzie FRG’s online adviser.
I can see that you are currently on bail with conditions not to live in a property with children. Children services have drawn up a contact agreement around contact with your children who are under 5.
You do not say whether there is a child in need or child protection plan, so I assume that there isn’t either at the moment. Please look at the triangle diagram which sets out different levels of children services interventions.
You might find the process from a fathers perspective useful.
Children services have to assume the worst-that you have committed the offence you are being investigated for, until they know otherwise. They cannot risk children not being protected. This is why they have imposed a strict contact plan. Is any friends or family involved in the supervision of your contact? If they were, then you may be able to get more contact with your children. The friend or family member would need to be assessed to make sure they understand about your potential risk to children.
In answer to your questions, yes you are right to say that the criminal process will need to be completed. If you are found guilty then often children services expect you to undertake any courses, therapy or support around your offending behaviour that might be offered via the criminal route first of all. You would also need to be risk assessed by children services, who might instruct specialists to do this. They will want to find out whether you could be dangerous to your own children. To find out more have a look at the Parents Protect website or the NSPCC website both of whom offer a lot of support.
Going forward, children service involvement would depend on the level of risk and how well you and our wife are working with children services. Please look at our guide for working with social workers .


. Your wife’s ability to protect your children from your risk would also be assessed. Sometimes we hear that children services will do an assessment which concludes that it is not safe for offenders to return home. If this is the outcome for you then it might be worth seeking an independent risk assessment to get a second opinion. Here are links to support when sexual abuse is a concern.


I hope this advice helps but if you need further advice, please post again or call the advice line on 0808 801 0366.
Best wishes,
Suzie

Starwars90
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue May 04, 2021 12:37 pm

Re: Contact framework

Post by Starwars90 » Tue May 11, 2021 1:51 pm

Further questions ...

Thank you very much for your reply and time.

There is a child protection plan in place and children are on the risk register. There is an upcoming child protection conference review meeting this week but not expecting any substantive change as forensics not back.

My wife and older sibling were both police checked in January and deemed suitable to supervise contact. Contact has been just through wife twice a week but could try asking if would consider a further contact at my older siblings house.

Thanks for the links and will take a look through them.

Can you comment on what the following might alude to

In response to a question I raised why the authority thinks more access to my children is not in their best interest they wrote, :

“due to your previous conviction ( as a minor over 20 years ago ) and current allegation against you , the local authority will consider whether legal advice needs to be sought to ensure the ongoing safety of your children is met.” This is actually a paraphrase but putting in quotes to make clearer who is speaking.

I’m not sure how to interpret this and should I be worried . I don’t know whether they are just going on a worse case scenario, because as you say they don’t know the extent of risk until the police investigation concluded . Obviously if the children had been sexually abused it would be entirely right and proper that the parents access is controlled or removed but I I’ve always said this has nothing to do with my kids, and there will be no evidence to say otherwise.

I’ll read through links you sent but just wanted to ask directly , whether the assessment process is arbitrary , down to the luck of draw which social worker , or if there is a framework they have to operate within, therefore if they don’t act reasonable there is recourse/ redress to complain .

Will involving my wider family help ? I have quite a few older siblings . I see there is such a thing as a family conference . Can the family override social services by in effect taking on the responsibility of making the decisions ?

Thanks

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 3055
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Contact framework

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon May 17, 2021 5:04 pm

Dear Starwars90,

Thank you for your further post. You link the quote to you asking for more contact and the reasons why they set the level at 2 times a week. Children services responded by talking about the safety of your children so they may be asking their lawyers about going up to the Pre- proceedings level where you would get a letter advising why they are concerned, what you can do about this to reduce your risk and so avoid care proceedings but also to consider what assessments need to take place. You would be entitled to a legally aided solicitor to support and advise you at the meeting. They already have evidence -the previous conviction-that points to your children being at risk of suffering significant harm. So, a specialist risk assessment of you is needed whatever the outcome in the criminal proceedings. Without you having support to address your behaviour since the earlier conviction, they will assume that you could still be a risk to your children. Here is information about the pre- proceedings process.

The allocated social worker will normally do the children and family assessment. Some social workers are trained to do the risk assessments as well, but often a specialist will be instructed. This may be negotiated by your solicitor, if the case did go up to the pre- proceedings level.

A family group conference (fgc) could be used to support your contact. Supervisors could be found from your family network. But without a risk assessment of you, I imagine a FGC would be fairly limited.
Children services are operating at a different balance of proof than the criminal court. Children services would only need to show “on the balance of probabilities” that your children are at risk from you. In the criminal court, the prosecution will need to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that you had committed the offence to get conviction. If you were found not guilty, children services may still come to the conclusion that you pose a risk.
Please do look at the resource I sent in my earlier post.
If you need further advice, please post again.
Best wishes,
Suzie

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