By Christopher Booker
Social workers are removing children from loving families without proper justification, says Christopher Booker
In recent months, I have been reporting on what is one of the most alarming scandals in Britain today – the secretive system that allows social workers to remove children from loving families without any proper justification, and to send them for adoption or fostering with no apparent concern for their interests.
Four more examples have come to light in the past week. The first came to my attention via Lynn Boleyn, a former councillor from Dudley, who first became concerned about “forced adoption” when she sat on various committees concerned with child care. Last week, she was in court with a mother of five girls, whose family tragedy began when her partner was sentenced to 14 years for abusing the eldest girl, who was sent to live with a relative. Although there was no evidence of their mother harming them in any way, the other four girls were seized by Dudley social services and placed in foster care. Three were kept together, separated from their two-year-old sister whom the council now wants to put out for adoption.
The three girls, aged 11, 10 and 7, are desperately unhappy, constantly asking to be reunited with their mother. But on Friday, a judge said he had no power to stop social services summarily withdrawing them from their local school to be sent to a new home. The 11-year-old was looking forward to being in the school play and the end of term Leavers’ Service. She has now been torn away from friends she has known since she was four, the nearest thing to stability left in her life. The children’s wishes were not taken into account.
A second case concerns another woman, for 20 years an NHS nurse who served with the Royal Army Medical Corps in the first Gulf War. Until recently, she was a semi-professional dog breeder, living happily at home with her eight-year-old son (his father having walked out when she was pregnant).
In March, their home was raided by two RSPCA officials and five policemen, complaining she had too many dogs in the house. Her home was untidy because she was clearing an attic, but the seizing of the dogs (breaking the leg of one of them) left it a befouled mess.
Acting on a tip-off from the RSPCA, Leeds social workers then intervened, and expressed surprise that the house was tidier than they expected. Nevertheless, they told the mother to bring her son’s clothes to school, from where he was taken into foster care.
After three months, during which he has only been allowed short supervised “contact” with his mother, the boy is miserable, constantly asking when he can return home. His mother has repeatedly had to draw the social workers’ attention to various conditions, such as head lice and threadworm, which indicated that he was not being properly cared for. Last week they announced that they were moving him to another foster home.
Although there was no evidence that she was anything other than an admirable mother, apart from the temporary mess made of the house in March, the social workers say her son cannot be allowed home until they have both undergone “psychiatric assessments”. These cannot be arranged until October. Nor has the boy yet been given a guardian to represent him, as the law lays down.
My last case is so shocking that I will return to it in more detail at a later date. It centres on a London couple who, earlier this year, had their six children seized by social workers on what appears to be flimsy hearsay evidence (I have seen the court papers).
The mother was pregnant again. Last month, after the boy was born, three social workers and five policemen entered the hospital ward where she was breastfeeding at 3am, wresting the baby from her by force. They then discovered that they had nowhere to keep him. The boy was put into intensive care, where his mother was taken to breastfeed him for four days, until she was fit to leave the hospital. She saw her baby for the last time two weeks ago.
I will return to this story when I have had some explanation from the council responsible.